Virtual Team Appreciation: Rewards & Recognition

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Although many employees consider remote work a desirable arrangement, remote managers must maintain a sense of team cohesiveness. This lesson explores how to use employee recognition in remote teams.

Remote Management

If you're a store manager at a big box retailer, you'll likely see all your employees nearly every day as you walk the aisles. If you pass by an employee who's going above and beyond, you can commend them at the precise moment at which they were displaying the desirable behavior. Some organizations even allow a manager in this scenario to give an on-the-spot cash bonus. If you manage a remote team, it isn't that easy.

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  • 0:04 Remote Management
  • 0:30 Recognizing Remote Employees
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When remote managers want to recognize remote employees, they will usually be forced to use mediums like video conferencing.

Recognizing Remote Employees

Let's look at some of the different ways we can recognize remote employees.

1. Showing that they're part of the team

MIT conducted a study that demonstrated that remote employees felt that, despite being remote, communications and interactions with their virtual teams were one of the most important aspects of being satisfied as a remote employee. Think about all the things a manager would typically celebrate or do in the traditional office settings. Nearly all of them would celebrate work anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. Many would also give public recognition for things like educational achievements or ''employee of the year'' designations. If you're a remote manager, it would be a mistake to leave these celebrations out of the virtual workplace. It's also important to note that the 'public' nature of the recognition also matters. In other words, a remote manager should formally and publicly recognize a work anniversary rather than merely sending an email.

Remote managers should celebrate all the same events that would be celebrated in the office.

2. Using the virtual water cooler

In most traditional offices, employee break rooms and water coolers are socially important. Employees often use the setting to blow off steam or to catch up with a workplace friend. Since these types of interactions are obviously absent from remote environments, remote team leaders can use technology to create the next best thing. When remote teams meet for work purposes, managers can make an effort to include less formal content by talking about lighter topics.

3. Giving cultural recognition

By their very nature, remote teams are cross-cultural, meaning they are the confluence of more than one culture interacting together. For example, electronic medical record vendor Allscripts uses virtual teams for implementation and product support. These teams work remotely from nearly every corner of the globe. This means a remote team leader is trying to engage employees across time zones, languages, and cultural practices. To keep the ''close family'' feeling, remote managers can actively engage cultural differences as a means of recognition. Here are a few specific cross-cultural recognition ideas:

  • Choose a performance metric for a month of work and select the winner, basically making it a game. At the next in-person meeting, the meal choice belongs to the winner, who will select one of their traditional foods for the entire team to try.
  • If the team has members all around the world, recognize employees by letting them pick the date and time of the next team meeting. If they normally have to be up at 3:00 am local time in order to make a 9:00 am EST meeting, reward them by letting them choose a normal time for themselves.

Make it a game! Use the diversity on the remote team as a reward by letting the winner of a game choose the cuisine for the next meeting.

Teams are cross-cultural even if all the members are domestic. Cultural differences in food, vocabulary, and work habits vary widely even within the United States. Even if the team is spread over only a few states, cross-cultural recognition is applicable.

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Virtual Team Appreciation: Rewards & Recognition Quiz

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Diverse teams can use rewards that take advantage of the _____ nature of the team.

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