How to Make Their Day with a Remote Team

Published On: August 2, 2023Categories: Blog

Remote work became almost every office professional’s day-to-day experience a few years ago, and to this day, many of us are still working either fully remote or with hybrid schedules. For a lot of people, this is a huge benefit–less time wasted stuck in traffic, more flexibility to get all your work done while being able to use your breaks to tend to your house, and an opportunity to make your workspace truly work for you.

But it also adds a new challenge for managers, who have had to adapt their team-building strategies to a culture where we only really engage behind a computer screen, and those common everyday interactions are fewer and further between.

This is the second in an ongoing series about applying the core principles of the FISH! Philosophy while working remotely. In the last entry we talked about how to Be There for your team when you’re not physically around each other–how to engage intentionally with your team when you aren’t having as many incidental interactions, and how to create a digital workplace community that helps build bonds between coworkers and team members using the technology you’re already using. This week, we’ll look at the next pillar of the FISH! Philosophy: Make Their Day.

Making your team’s day–from far away

Now, many managers will use these challenges as an excuse to strongly push back against work-from-home policies–and while we understand the inclination to want to simply return to “what worked before,” the strongest managers are those that understand the need to adapt to new changes in the workplace and apply their leadership skills in new ways.

Make Their Day is fundamentally about the small gestures that add up to a big impact on morale and team happiness. Whether it’s going out of your way to offer help, writing a sincere “thank you” note for a job well-done, or little treats that surprise and delight, these are actions that may not be massive structural workplace changes, but serve to make everyone feel like more than just a cog in the machine.

While remote work may make some of your usual ideas a bit harder to implement, the nice thing is that Make Their Day is actually one of the easier FISH! Philosophy teachings to implement even outside of a traditional office setting. All the same principles still apply whether you’re in a shared central office or scattered across the globe: acknowledging great work outside of regular reviews, surprising people with unexpected benefits, and going above and beyond your regular job duties to make your team’s lives easier.

Go out of your way to give intentional praise and support

When was the last time your boss came up to you to simply say “good job” when you weren’t expecting it? If you work as part of a less-effective team, the answer may simply be “never.” You might receive positive feedback during a yearly performance review, but otherwise–radio silence. But taking a moment to offer unprompted praise for a team member–either publicly or privately–can have a huge positive effect on that team member’s morale, and it’s easy to do whether you’re in the office or at home.

For example, a weekly Zoom meeting check-in can start with a simple acknowledge (eg: “Before we get into this next quarter’s work, I want to give a shout-out to Tina for the excellent work she did getting our Q2 accounting in order.”), or it can be a private email, Slack message, or even a hand-written letter mailed to their home. Making them feel seen and making it known that their work is good and important can go a long way towards helping people feel happy and secure in their job.

Fun surprises work–even remotely

In the office, it’s always nice to delight  your team with small gifts, treats, and random acts of kindness not tied to performance, and it can be tricky figuring out how to translate this to remote work. After all, many of these surprises aren’t pre-planned. You may decide to pick up donuts on your morning commute, or treat the team to a happy hour after a hard week. But with a little creative thinking, it’s not hard to offer the same feelings with a team working remotely.

If your go-to to Make Their Day is food–maybe you’re the type to surprise a team with a free lunch or keep a jar of candy on your desk–then consider making a corporate account with delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, etc. These often allow you to send your team discounts or even credits at your discretion, which can give them a chance to treat themselves to a lunch of their choice.

Or maybe you’re more about setting up opportunities to kick back and socialize. Scheduling a Zoom happy hour or party room (and not making it mandatory–that’s important) can be a great chance to give your team something fun to do as a break from work. Or if your team is remote but still local, plan a (paid for) office meet-up at something like a baseball game, concert, or engaging speaker series.

Now, you don’t want to lean on these as replacements for decent pay and benefits–small treats alone won’t keep employees happy for long (this is so common that the “office pizza party” has even become a meme to make fun of workplaces that fail to offer competitive pay and benefits packages), but if you’re fundamentally treating your team well, then these fringe benefits can help make the difference between a job they stick with because it pays well vs a job they actually love.

Offer help and support when the going gets tough

When workers talk about what makes a great manager or boss, we hear time and time again that they love it when leadership shows they’re not above chipping in to get the job done. When work is hard, deadlines are looming, and projects are piling up, the most beloved bosses are often those who roll their sleeves up and lend a helping hand, without judging or viewing the team as “not working hard enough.” You’d be surprised how much good will and job happiness you can build by simply saying “hey, it seems like you’re in the weeds–would it help if I took something off your plate?” once in a while. You don’t want to do their whole job for them, of course, but part of building a team is being part of the team, and acts like this are something you can do to Make Their Day no matter where you’re located.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • How often do you tell your team that they’re doing a good job? Does it happen more or less frequently when you’re working remotely?
  • What’s a small treat, special surprise, or random act of kindness you can offer to your team remotely–something that works equally well for employees across the hall or across the country?
  • How do you keep track of when your remote employees are overworked or stressed out? What can you do remotely to take some work off their plate when you see that?

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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