On any team, there are moments that we can learn from (including failures of different kinds), and on the brighter side, achievements that are truly worth celebrating. How do you recognize a staff member’s star performance or acknowledge a team’s job well done from a distance?

Though they may not share an office, there are many ways to reward distributed teams for their hard work and ingenuity. There’s also a number of ways to show appreciation for teammates’ contributions.

Here are some ways remote managers and company leaders are rewarding their remote team on a regular basis:

At Schibsted Media Group, an international firm that owns some of the largest newspapers in Sweden and Norway, over 6,900 employees are distributed across 30 countries. I spoke with David Iwanow, Global SEO Manager of Schibsted Media Group, who shared how his team handles remote recognition and rewards.

“We acknowledge successes via team Slack channels, but they also include wins in internal presentations. When visiting remote teammates in person, managers will have small gifts in tow. Our company’s other incentives are often tied to employees’ personal motivators; however, more self-motivated members require fewer rewards.”

Creator of one of the most popular productivity apps, Doist is a remote-first company with 56 employees in 54 countries. Head of Marketing Brenna Loury described the ways in which recognition is built into their internal culture.

“We have various different ways to recognize team members for a job well done. For each project, we publish weekly ‘squad snippets’ where we share what we accomplished last week and what we’ll work on in the week ahead. This is a great way to highlight awesome performance of various individuals to the whole squad. Outside of the squad structure, I use our monthly marketing updates to share examples of great work with the whole company.”

Ad hoc acknowledgement also takes place; for example, if one of Doist’s writers publishes a particularly fantastic blog post, they’ll share it in a company-wide message for everyone to see.

“We do not offer any material incentives to reach goals. In fact, as a company (except for the support team) we have not ever used any numbers or metrics to strictly guide our goals. Our incentives are embedded in our company culture that is founded upon the values of ambition and balance; this seems to have worked—Doist has a 97% employee retention rate since our first team member joined in 2011.

“Years ago, we had more of a ‘no news is good news’ policy but now, we’re much more proactive about sharing positive feedback and constructive criticism on a regular basis. I strongly believe that even just one sentence of genuinely positive feedback from a team member (and especially from a manager) can be far more motivating than any material incentive you may be thinking of offering.”

Darren Buckner is CEO of Workfrom, which has built an app for finding suitable workspaces and a global community for remote workers. He’s found some creative approaches to showing appreciation for his team, and to make those experiences fun.

“At Workfrom, there are several ways we recognize an individual or an entire team’s job well done:

  1. We offer a very public recognition of great performance via our team communications tools (Slack, email, etc.).
  2. We work to prioritize a teammate’s pet project, a ‘burning itch,’ or otherwise important initiative they’re passionate about.
  3. Teammates are given the ability to select the team movie of the month; we reimburse costs for anyone who wants to enjoy it.
  4. They also receive lots of thanks, high fives, and kudos privately and with the entire team.”

Darren emphasizes that this happens regularly, but isn’t part of a formal schedule.

“We have routine ways that we acknowledge a job well done, but these are not scheduled. I take every chance I can get during team meetings to acknowledge how much we are kicking ass (as long as we are). I also build it into planning and goal setting with the team.”

Rewards can be tied to company profits, or intangible benefits that enable professional growth.

“We also offer several incentives for teammates to meet and exceed their goals, including profit sharing, leadership, and priority setting. People are at their best when they are appreciated, respected and heard. I’ve been surprised by how far a simple gesture of gratitude can take us.”

Alfred Lua, who leads user acquisition at Buffer, maker of the eponymous social media management tool, shared a variety of the ways that the growing global team congratulates one another.

“We often write up a comprehensive post about the teammate and their work in our internal forum.”  (This gives them visibility among the fully remote company’s 70 distributed employees.)

For other wins that perhaps don’t warrant an expanded post, well, there’s an app for that.

“At Buffer, we use use HeyTaco!, a Slack tool for recognition, appreciation and awards  for small celebrations…and I believe there are private praises that are often shared via direct messages, too!”

T.J. Barbour is a developer lead at VAE Inc., a full service IT infrastructure solutions company based out of Herndon, Virginia. As a distributed teammate, T.J. shows appreciation for his colleagues’ work electronically and by phone from his home office in Tijuana, Mexico. Here’s how he acknowledges others’ excellent  work—but he says that he, like many others, probably needs to do more of it:

  • Calling out those who have contributed to specific features in our live demos.
  • Sending commendations to teammates via direct messages.
  • Adding positive reactions to others’ Slack messages and updates.
  • Highlighting others’ achievements in daily calls (these are our “stand up” meetings).
  • Reiterating positive feedback in one-on-one conversations.

Tell us: how does your team offer kudos remotely? If you have any tips to share on how you recognize and/or reward others’ work, we’d love to hear them!

Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com

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