In these challenging times, we’ve all had to adjust to a world where working remotely is the new normal as our homes have become our offices, classrooms, movie theaters and playgrounds. For a brief time in April and May, ours were also shipping and warehousing... it got a little crazy.
We know that businesses of all kinds are doing what they can to support employees and clients while navigating the real challenges of working with heightened uncertainty. And in the midst of all of these shifts, it is even more important to invest in strengthening relationships and fostering community among everyone in our lives.
Celebrating clients and employees is a thoughtful way to show appreciation, compassion and care for the people you work with, and helps make their worlds shine a little brighter. It also has the benefit of strengthening your relationships, values and brand.
Below, we’re offering 5 ways to express support and appreciation for remote employees and clients. Something as simple as sending a few surprise employee appreciation gifts or highlighting a client’s accomplishment can make a big difference in the dynamics of your team.
1. Send a care package
Though it might seem obvious, sending employee and client appreciation gifts can go a long way towards strengthening relationships even from afar. The more personalized the gift, the more meaningful it will be.
If you know an employee has been struggling to recreate a productive environment at home, consider gifting them a Peace of Mind gift set that pairs a handpoured Arden candle with an air plant to create a more relaxing work space. Or recognize a client’s furry co-workers with a Love that Dog candle, designed to bring joy to dog-lovers and their homes. Paired with a hand-written note, a care package can show that you care about the whole person, in addition to what they contribute to your business.
3. Open meetings with intention
Another way to show appreciation for remote employees and clients is to find ways to adapt office traditions to your new online workspaces. Did you have a practice of gathering all together around a table for meetings? Recreate some of that magic by lighting a candle at the beginning of your virtual meeting and taking a moment together to breathe and gaze into the soft flame.
Other ways to bring intentionality to the beginnings of meetings include designating someone to read a poem to the group, playing music as people arrive in the virtual room, or creating a practice of sharing something you’re grateful for in the chat. Marking the beginning of a meeting with a brief ritual can help refocus the energy of the space and invite everyone to approach the agenda with fresh eyes, even after a long day of screen time.
3. Offer flexibility
As we all have been reminded this year, the state of the world and our lives can change overnight and throw carefully laid plans into disarray. A thoughtful and compassionate way to support remote employees and clients is to acknowledge this reality in your actions by offering increased flexibility, especially for those who are managing their work responsibilities while caring for children at home.
Think about the ways you offered flexibility when you were in person and look for ways to adapt them to a virtual environment. A few examples could include offering additional time off, accommodating all your team member’s time zones when you’re scheduling important gatherings, allowing people to attend meetings while driving or with their cameras off, letting people complete work hours when it makes sense for them to do so, and adjusting the scope of projects based on everyone’s capacity. In relationship building it is frequently a good idea to be extra understanding and accommodating, and there is even more reason to do so now.
4. Create a community space (online)
Oftentimes, the aspects of our jobs that bring the most joy are the ones that allow us to interact with other people and feel a sense of shared community. It is important not to lose that in our new remote world. If you don’t already have one, establishing an online space for employees or clients to interact with each other more casually can help recreate those watercooler and work meal environments that allow for relationships and community to flourish.
Whether you use Slack, Discord, a private Facebook group, or another platform, give the space some structure. Perhaps, akin to the kitchen in your physical office, there’s a dedicated channel or message thread for talking about weekend plans or sharing pet photos. Separating out the professional threads from the personal ones will help your employees and clients create their own boundaries and maintain focus. That way if they need to “step away” from their work for a minute they can hop into the casual chat, and when they are ready to return they can close that tab or mute notifications in a move similar to returning to their desk.
Community spaces like these help maintain the feelings of togetherness and shared vision that keep people invested in the work even during challenging times.
5. Recognize accomplishments
We all like to feel that our contributions are appreciated and that the people we spend time with value our presence. In the hustle and bustle of completing daily tasks, it can be easy to forget how meaningful it is to recognize our employees’ and clients’ accomplishments. And even simple actions can go a long way towards showing your appreciation. Don’t underestimate the value of small gifts for employees and clients that recognize milestones like birthdays, work anniversaries, project completions, goal achievements and more.
And client and employee appreciation gifts don’t have to be limited to the physical world. There are so many ways to celebrate accomplishments in virtual spaces, including recognizing successes in company wide zoom meetings, writing someone a glowing recommendation or skill endorsement on LinkedIn, or giving collaborators a virtual shoutout on social media. Something that takes you just a few minutes can make a client or employee’s whole week!
Here at Prosperity Candle, we have been working really hard in this time to cater to the needs of businesses and managers operating with increasingly remote teams. We believe that our care packages, thoughtfully curated with personalized gifts that ship directly to your gift list, are one way to show appreciation for remote employees and clients and to keep your whole team feeling connected with one another, even when they are far apart. If you’re interested in celebrating your team members with our gift sets, contact us for questions or added customization.
We welcome you to share any other virtual community building strategies you have found success with in the comments.