Employee Appreciation

12 Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas For A Remote Team

June 7, 2022
min read

Remote employment was a growing trend even before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak only solidified the practice of virtual work and permanently drove some companies away from the traditional office space. Although it was a huge adjustment from the previous norm, this global experience has proven that employees can meet work commitments from the comfort of their home. 

This work dynamic has become popular enough that a large number of employees now prefer and require flexibility in their job and may even consider resigning if their organization cannot accommodate this work model.  

With that knowledge, it is crucial to understand how to extend virtual employee recognition if your company is to maintain productivity, high-performance from employees and ensure that your people feel integrated into the work dynamic. 

In this article, we look at some excellent virtual employee appreciation ideas.

Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas

1. Keep It Simple with a Phone Call

Don’t underestimate the value of a sincere thank you. Small acts of kindness are especially necessary when your team is working under stress and tiring work hours. This recognition can be achieved through a simple phone or video call, or even a genuine thank you email. 

2. Send A Virtual Group Card

Since you’re unable to provide recognition in person, virtual group cards are available from a wide selection of online platforms and allow you to send virtual team greetings and messages. 

It’s as simple as extending a link to your employees for them to receive their appreciation messages

3. Create An Animated eCard

For uplifting and fun virtual employee appreciation ideas that add a special touch, you can send a personalized e-card or video with your greeting card to let employees know they’re valued. 

Create a tight-knit team environment by not taking yourself too seriously and uploading your face onto animations such as hilarious dance routines to make your team laugh. A platform like JibJab has a fantastic variety of amusing ways to get employee recognition across. 

This is a great opportunity to show your team that you’re approachable, contributes to a relaxed company culture and is a quick way to make them smile!

4. Encourage Them Online

Social media is key to providing team members with recognition and sharing your gratitude for them. Shout-out team members on a public platform such as Linkedin or Instagram and simultaneously promote your company’s positive work culture to the world. 

It doesn’t have to be a public platform either, you can use your company’s communication channel (e.g. Slack, Teams) to boost morale for your entire team at once. 

5. Give Credit For Happy Customers 

When customers give your organization positive feedback, remember the workers' contribution in satisfying them and share the affirmative feedback with your team to let them know about the impact they’re having! 

This is a great way to promote motivation and let your employees know they matter. 

6. Bring Your Kid Or Pet To Work Day 

There can be numerous distractions for people working from home and sometimes juggling domestic distractions with video calls can be challenging.

Allow your team to introduce their pet, child or loved one during work calls and get to know who your employees are outside of their job. Taking time to become familiar with your team's home life demonstrates that you recognize, accept and lean into the challenge of finding work-life balance. Your employees will also bond with each other and get to know who they work with on a deeper level.

This is an easy and effective idea for virtual employee appreciation and is one that works better in an online working environment versus an in-person workplace. 

7. Virtual Happy Hour

With the arrival of Covid-19, socializing after work came to an instant halt. The time employees spend together outside of work has been eliminated and it’s difficult to connect virtually with each other. An organized, casual video call with your people can be effective in breaking the monotony of the online work dynamic.

As long as it is appropriate for your company, there is no reason you can’t connect for a drink together after work. 

It can be as easy as carving out time after work and creating a repeating event on your team’s calendar so they have space in their day to virtually get together. A casual and relaxing way to connect with each other, it also lets everyone celebrate company success together and motivate each other!

8. Keep It Local 

Many remote teams have people dispersed across different parts of the world, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to recognize them from wherever they are. It’s as easy as a gift card to one of their local restaurants, using local businesses to extend a token of appreciation or even finding a local florist and ordering a bouquet to their home.

Corporate rewards platforms such as PerkUp are perfect for this scenario as they allow you to extend monetary rewards to your employees, give them the freedom to choose where they would like to spend their gift and also add personal touches to make them feel valued. 

9. Offer Your Employees A Subscription 

A subscription service gives your employees something to look forward to every month and acts as an ongoing reminder of your appreciation. 

Let your employee choose from a list of company-sponsored subscriptions and offer different options to meet everyone’s preferences. For example, how about a freshly roasted coffee delivery every month for coffee lovers? You can find a participating coffee shop and send single-origin beans or grounds so your team can experience different coffees from around the world. 

Other subscription ideas include:

  • Subscription services for monthly, gourmet gift boxes like different vinegars or flavourful virgin olive oil.
  • Subscriptions for fresh flower bouquets every month to regularly lift employee spirits. 

Physical gifts may make your recognition tangible, but if an electronic subscription is more appropriate for an employee, run with it. Many employees will prefer Netflix or online yoga classes too. 

10. Gift Cards

Although gift cards can seem generic and impersonal, they are practical virtual employee appreciation gift ideas. 

While individual vouchers make appreciation personalized, remote work and large teams can make it difficult to understand an employee's personal preferences and what they would enjoy. 

Cards to Amazon, for example, would be a reasonable choice so employees have the freedom to choose what they truly want.

You can use team socialization events to get to know your people’s interests in order to better cater for their preferences, or even participate in an online employee rewards program to give them the gift of choice. 

Related: Alternatives to Gift Cards for Employees

11. Aromatherapy

Essential oils and aromatherapy have been linked to many health benefits and can help ease the stress of an isolated work from home experience. For example, eucalyptus is thought to improve brain function while sandalwood and patchouli have stress-relieving properties and peppermint can energize and keep their workspace feeling fresh.

There is also no shortage of virtual employee appreciation ideas for gifting essential oils. For example:

  • Tealight candle burners that sit under a bowl of water. You can add a few drops of essential oil into the water and allow them to evaporate under the heat, for a relaxing and aromatic effect.

  • Electronic diffusers that break down essential oils into small molecules and release their scent into the air through a comforting mist. 

Regardless of which aromatherapy method you choose, essential oils are sure to contribute to stress relief and help employees increase their focus.

12. Work-From-Home Equipment

There is no shortage of virtual employee appreciation ideas in this category, and these gifts will only make your team’s life easier as they navigate their job from home. 

Electronic gadgets make for an excellent virtual employee appreciation idea. Think wireless earbuds, Bluetooth headphones and speakers, noise-canceling headphones, as well as power banks. 

If virtual meetings make up a large part of your employee's day, you can help connect them with useful gadgets, such as:

  • Blue light-blocking glasses - these are beneficial for employees who spend long hours looking at a computer screen and may experience eye strain. Blue light-blocking glasses have filters that prevent blue light emission from harming your eyes and help to relieve dry eyes, headaches and sensitivity to light. Increase your team’s productivity with this thoughtful gift!
  • Non-slip desk pads - these help to alleviate discomfort in your arms and wrists from a long day of typing. They are soft to the touch, easy to clean, and also protect desks from scratches, heat, and coffee stains while comfortably accommodating a computer keyboard and mouse. 

What could be more appropriate for virtual employee appreciation ideas than gifts that contribute to your employees' long-term health while also enhancing productivity?

The Importance of Employee Appreciation for Remote Workers

The past few years have had an enormous impact on the traditional work dynamic and truly shifted the perspectives of countless employees around the world. With time and space to reconsider their working conditions, their careers in general and their personal needs, people have been increasingly moving their careers to work for more flexible companies or freelance and work for themselves. 

In a time of massive change, uncertainty and disconnect, it is critical that virtual employees have a positive attachment to their work and feel engaged even from a home environment. Workplace recognition and virtual employee appreciation gifts are key to fostering positive relationships from a distance and ensuring that employees remain committed to their work and are motivated to perform well. 

Everyone is sitting in a different boat in terms of how the virtual work style feels for them, and although there have been many perceived benefits of the work from home life, concerning data has emerged to show that isolation and diminished team collaboration are also major concerns.  

Virtual employee appreciation gifts will benefit employees on both sides of this spectrum and ensure that all individuals in your organization have their needs met. 

Related: Working Remotely? Here’s How to Celebrate Work Anniversaries Virtually

Final Thoughts

Gratitude should be integral to your work routine and is imperative when working with a remote team. As mentioned, disconnection and demotivation can be a downside of working virtually and may result in employee churn and loss of productivity.

As the face of the workplace evolves, companies must reevaluate what motivates their remote teams. While we have given you productive virtual employee appreciation ideas, there are other avenues you can take to recognize and value your remote team.

A convenient way to recognize your team in an ongoing manner is to implement a rewards program. PerkUp offers a variety of ways to recognize and reward your teams, no matter where they are. 

Show your employees that they matter, are valued and that you notice the added obstacles these recent years have brought on for them.

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