Google has a unique approach to employee recognition. In addition to compensation and other perks, Google uses a digital tool called “The Wall of Happy,” a company-wide forum where employees can publicly share their appreciation for their colleagues. For example, after two colleagues work side-by-side on a project, they can give each other “gThanks” in the forum, which anyone in the company can see. When Laszlo Bock, then senior vice president of people operations at Google, still worked at the company, he’d print them out and post them on his office wall.

“Simple, public recognition is one of the most effective and most underutilized management tools.”

—Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google 

Appreciation and recognition are vital to remote employee productivity

No one would likely dispute that employee satisfaction is important to driving business outcomes. Four out of five employees say they work harder when they feel more appreciated by their bosses. With remote work on the rise, however, the way in which we address employee happiness continues to evolve. Most often we show appreciation for employees in office settings, where we can give shoutouts in meeting rooms or at an employee’s desk. But when colleagues work thousands of miles apart, traditional methods go out the window. 

Remote employees need recognition as much as office employees, if not more. Studies show that remote employees work 1.4 days longer per month than their colleagues in the office and experience burnout at a higher rate too. At the same time, remote employees often feel isolated both professionally and personally. Organizations that haven’t conquered these pitfalls set themselves up for productivity disasters.

It’s time we find new ways to show appreciation to our remote colleagues and the amazing work they do. By getting it right, organizations can drive better employee relationships, innovation, culture, and business outcomes. Here are a few ways to do it:

1. The power of public praise 

Like office employees, remote employees want to feel valued by their employers. When employees aren’t located in the office, however, giving public praise presents more challenges. You can’t walk to their desk to thank them or give shoutouts during office meetings. Managers can, however, use communications technology to reach out in public ways, even if the team works remotely. 

Team messaging groups work well for this. In a team messaging app, companies can create groups for projects and teams both small and large. Many groups include entire departments with dozens or even hundreds of people. When individuals or teams complete an important project, giving praise in the channel lets everyone know who made it happen. Expressing appreciation can take many forms, from a simple “good job” to “I want to thank Mark for working tirelessly to make this launch possible.” The entire department can then celebrate the accomplishment, and the remote employee feels like an integral part of the organization.

2. Include remote employees in every team meeting

When it comes to feeling valued, studies show that remote employees have a strong desire to feel like part of a team. In fact, 35% of remote workers made “quality time” their biggest preference for employee recognition, compared to just 25% of office workers. It turns out that without random encounters by the coffee machine or social hangouts in the lunchroom, remote employees yearn for a sense of inclusion.

Teams should strive to include as many relevant remote colleagues in meetings as possible. Teams should also consider their colleagues’ schedules when planning meetings, especially if some live overseas. Weekly check-in meetings, for example, provide excellent opportunities for the entire team to bond, while also ensuring projects stay properly aligned. Video conferencing is essential for these meetings because it allows colleagues to see and hear one another, simulating the face-to-face interactions of office environments that build real, human connections.

3. Create a sense of open communication and transparency

Employees appreciate being kept in the loop, and open communication is the first step toward recognizing their value. Employees that understand their roles in the team and larger organization feel that their work has a much higher impact on business outcomes. At the same time, when managers invite employees to speak their minds, employees are four times more likely to perform their best work.

Foster an environment of open communication where remote employees feel they can contribute their honest opinions. Check-in meetings are perfect opportunities to inform remote employees of big picture goals and express how their work is vital to achieving those goals. Also, encourage employees to give feedback on areas they think need improvement.

4. Invite remote employees to company gatherings

While it’s often easier and cheaper to only invite office employees to company retreats and off-sites, remote employees may feel left out of the conversation and camaraderie. The isolation of remote work already presents challenges for remote employees, but feeling excluded can make it even worse. Employees miss out on bonding moments, goal alignments, and new ideas.

Whenever possible, make sure to invite remote workers and teams to your gatherings. Whether it’s a departmental retreat or a holiday party, make it a priority to encourage them to join.

5. Send tokens of appreciation to their homes

Remote employees don’t get the same gift-receiving experience that office environments have. Luckily, we can easily give gifts from a distance. Managers could buy remote employees lunch using a food delivery app and send it directly to their homes. They would most likely appreciate things like movie tickets and gift cards too. By sending remote employees gifts, you remind them that despite their location, they’re still part of your work family.

Drive productivity through appreciation

With distributed teams, remote employee contributions may sometimes get overlooked . Strong leaders can recognize remote workers by incorporating them into every aspect of the team as if they were working in the same office. From public praise in online groups to shoutouts in video meetings, there are multiple ways to show gratitude to remote employees no matter where they live. When you close the gap between remote and in-office employee recognition, you can foster unprecedented collaboration and productivity as a result.

Closing the recognition gap starts with having the right communications technology. The RingCentral app connects teams no matter where they are, ensuring that workplace relationships thrive and remote employees are never left out. With team messaging, video, and phone, all of your organization’s communications essentials live in a single app so distributed teams can seamlessly communicate and collaborate.

The new RingCentral app makes messaging, video, and phone collaboration faster and simpler than ever. Learn more about how unified communications can prepare your organization for the remote workplace of tomorrow.