Virtual Employee Meeting

First, what is
hybrid work?

During the pandemic, we’ve seen various work models emerge—from hybrid to distributed to remote. But what do these terms actually mean? While there are still ongoing discussions about how these approaches should be defined, here’s how we understand each one:

Hybrid work.

A hybrid work model generally means employees are required to work both in the office and remotely from home. Alternatively, some versions of hybrid work require a segment of your workforce to be fully onsite at the office, while others are working remotely full time.

Remote work.

The term “remote” is generally applied to individuals who work from home (or an out-of-office location of their choice) full-time. However, there may be restrictions on where they’re able to work.

Distributed work.

With this approach, your employees have the flexibility and choice to work remotely from home or in the office. This model is typically applied to the entire company and allows for geographic dispersal.

What does a hybrid work model look like in practice?

Here's a quick look at three different companies that are successfully transitioning to a hybrid workplace:

How Microsoft is transitioning to a hybrid work model: 

  • Making all meeting information available on demand.

  • Taking a data-driven approach to help employees improve work habits and help managers proactively engage teams at risk of burnout.

  • Creating equitable, inclusive experiences designed for people not in the room.

How Mimecast is transitioning to a hybrid work model:

  • Trusting employees to make the right decisions for themselves and their customers.

  • Empowering teams to organically choose how they will work best, depending on their unique needs.

  • Committing to a hybrid workplace culture of mutual accountability.

How Citigroup is transitioning to a hybrid work model:

  • Reserving Fridays as no video meeting days.

  • Renaming every role at the company to either “hybrid,” “remote,” or “resident.”

  • Creating an inclusive experience for all employees. 

Why do employee appreciation and recognition matter in a hybrid world?

A shift to hybrid work gives you the opportunity to re-evaluate how to best meet your employees’ changing needs. Here’s how an employee recognition and rewards program can support three core focus areas for employees in this new world of work:

Woman waving on video call.

Choice.

We’re seeing a shift to hybrid work models because employees have made it clear that they value flexibility and the power of choice.

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As we all juggle different responsibilities and have unique passions and interests, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer an option. An employee recognition program that enables personalization can support your workforce’s demand for choice. 

Equity and inclusion.

As we migrate to a hybrid work environment, it’s natural for managers to prefer employees who they work with side-by-side in the office over remote workers.

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But it’s important to uncover these unconscious biases and make sure every employees’ accomplishments are reviewed objectively and celebrated. See below for remote employee recognition program ideas that can promote a more inclusive culture.

Network of people icon.

Community.

In a hybrid workplace, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your teammates and the company’s purpose.

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Appreciating and recognizing remote employees with programs and rewards that are engaging, shareable, and motivating is a fantastic way to rebuild that sense of community—even when we're all working from different places.

3 must-have recognition programs
for a hybrid workplace.

What types of employee recognition programs should you introduce to address the needs of your hybrid or remote workforce? While there are many you can choose from, here are three that we recommend starting with: 

SPOT RECOGNITION

Celebrate employees living your values (wherever they are) with spot recognition.

Spot recognition programs reward specific behaviors, contributions, or milestones when they occur. This form of recognizing remote employees is especially impactful in a hybrid workplace because it allows you to signal what great work looks like to your entire workforce and inspires repeat behavior, regardless of location. 

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Working remotely or in a hybrid setting means employees no longer see company values painted on the walls every day. To address this, we’ve seen an uptick in the adoption of Company Values Award recognition programs, which recognize remote or on-site employees who demonstrate company values on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

Values awards programs remind employees that they’re part of a bigger mission and, most importantly, are inclusive. Anyone from the marketing intern to the CEO can (and should) bring your company values to life, and celebrating those who live them, helps keep them top of mind for the entire organization.

Woman at cooking class.

Hakemia J. learned a new signature dish.

Helicopter Ride Experiential Reward

Diana N. took a sunset helicopter tour.

ANNIVERSARY AWARDS

Keep employees excited and motivated with anniversary rewards that wow.

Anniversary awards present the perfect opportunity to celebrate an employee's contributions to the company, whether it's their first year or their 10th. We've seen first-hand with our clients that this type of program is one of the best ways to improve retention rates—which are critical focus areas for hybrid workplaces.

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Experiential rewards are an especially effective way to celebrate anniversaries in a hybrid workplace. Whether it’s learning to play the guitar or taking a family vacation to Banff, these types of rewards are easy for employees to share with others—even when physically apart—and will motivate employees to stick around as they build anticipation around their own anniversary award.

Learn how Precision BioSciences used anniversary awards to boost retention.
Hot Air Balloon Ride Experiential Reward

Brittany R. floated around the clouds in a hot air balloon.

Four best practices for building an employee recognition program for your hybrid workplace.

Let’s set you up for success. We’re sharing a few best practices to follow and some reflective questions to help evaluate your current efforts:

Choice is critical in a hybrid workforce where everyone’s situations, schedules, and lifestyles vary. So let your employees choose a reward that’s meaningful to them. With Blueboard, your employees can choose from hundreds of hand-curated experiential rewards. From parasailing to ziplining, craft beer tours to private cooking lessons, there’s something for everyone.

This type of flexibility gives everyone the space to be who they are—and people feel most appreciated when they get to celebrate in a way that fills their cup. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to evaluate your program: 

  • Do our employee recognition programs allow employees to choose their own reward? Or do they take a one-size-fits-all approach? 
  • Do our rewards and appreciation gifts accommodate various lifestyles, personalities, and interests?

An inclusive employee recognition program is one where everyone feels invited to the table and has the opportunity to participate. Inclusivity is essential in a hybrid workplace because not every employee has the same space to shine—to feel seen and valued—when we’re working apart. 

If you’re not sure how inclusive your remote employee recognition ideas or gifts are, here are a few questions to get the wheels turning: 

  • Are our current programs accessible to the majority of employees, or are they just designed for select groups?
  • Are there various ways to get involved in our employee recognition programs—whether that’s nominating someone or participating in the celebration?

Equity is about recognizing that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities and finding ways to accommodate those to the best of your ability. Ask yourself the following questions to create an equitable recognition program. 

  • Are we offering meaningful rewards that allow every employee, regardless of where they work, to receive recognition in a way that meets their unique needs?
  • Do we provide consistent rewards and recognition opportunities to our employees across the globe?

Socializing your recognition program is critical when it comes to making it successful in a hybrid workplace. When we're not all physically together, we need the opportunity to connect in other ways. In most cases, this means through digital communication channels.

Offering exciting, shareable, and buzzworthy rewards—and giving employees the platforms to talk about them—is key to employee recognition program success in the hybrid workplace. Below are a few other considerations: 

  • Does our recognition program integrate with platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams?
  • Do we have a way to automatically share reward activities to create a consistent drumbeat of excitement as our recognition programs roll out?

HYbrid WORKPLACE Resources

Check out a few more popular resources all about hybrid work:

eBook

Maintaining Morale, Equity, & Connection in the Hybrid Workforce

A guide for taking care of your employees' morale and wellbeing during our transition to a hybrid work model.

Download the eBook
Webinar recap

4 Key Elements for a Recognition Program That Will Thrive in Your Hybrid Workplace

Hear our client Shake Shack and a panel of experts discuss remote employee recognition, appreciation gifts, and company values as they relate to the hybrid workplace.

Read on the blog
Webinar recap

1:1 with Chris Yeh: How to Attract, Manage, and Retain Employees in a Hybrid World

How do we navigate a high-growth environment in the new hybrid workplace?

Read on the blog
Blog

Make Recognition a Priority in Your Hybrid Workplace

Watch this 20-min session on the priority role that remote employee recognition plays in fostering wellbeing, inclusivity, and flexibility/choice.

Read on the blog

Looking for the best way to reward, recognize and incentivize your top people?

Connect with our team for a personalized demo of our recognition and rewards platform and see our hand-curated experience menus.

Request a demo
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