How to Show Appreciation and Recognize Virtual Teams Effectively

Effectively communicating appreciation to remote staff and virtual teams is a challenge, but as the data we obtained demonstrates, it can be done.

Recently, we polled employees and managers who either work remotely or manage others who are in a different location. We found the following results:

  • Almost all (98 percent) of the respondents said, “Yes,”  it is possible to effectively communicate appreciation to colleagues who work remotely.
  • 70 percent indicated that they personally have received a message of appreciation from a colleague or supervisor within a remote working relationship.
  • 81 percent reported that they have communicated appreciation to a co-worker who works in a remote location.
  • Interestingly (to us, at least), there was very little difference in the rankings of how easy or difficult it is to communicate appreciation to remote colleagues in the various appreciation languages.

With “1” representing the easiest language to communicate to “5” being the most difficult, the following average rankings were obtained:

Words of Affirmation  3.3

Quality Time        3.1

Tangible Gifts        3.0

Acts of Service     2.9

Physical Touch     2.7

We did anticipate that physical touch would be ranked as the most difficult, with words of affirmation being the easiest to communicate over a long distance. But given the closeness of the rankings, we wonder if respondents were confused on the direction of the rankings.

  • Finally, we asked the participants to share examples of receiving or communicating appreciation to remote colleagues and also to give suggestions for communicating appreciation over distance more effectively.  What was interesting to note is that, while there were a few unique “twists”, largely the two lists were the same.

The implication? Many supervisors and managers are currently using the actions desired. To see the full list of various actions reported and suggested, click: Remote Poll Results 2017 .

Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:

  • Having “coffee” via Skype to catch up on life outside of work.
  • Emailing funny pictures based on recent conversations.
  • Scheduling Skype calls to just “catch up” on how things are going for them.
  • Sending “celebration kits” including some small gifts and food.
  • Allowing a co-worker to call and “vent” their frustration.
  • Buying lunch and having it delivered to them.
  • “Checking in” to see how their day is going.
  • Make sure that issues discussed in the main office are shared with remote employees.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note to the person’s home address.

None of these actions by themselves, are “magic.” But a little appreciation can go a long way to encourage a colleague, especially when it is in the language of appreciation they value. (To see our assessment developed specifically to identify how remote workers want to be shown appreciation, click here.)


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