Home » Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas for Remote Employees: Celebrate the Day with Swag and Gifts

Virtual Employee Appreciation Ideas for Remote Employees: Celebrate the Day with Swag and Gifts


Our team has been fully remote ever since the pandemic. No one really wanted to return to the office – so the remote work model stayed, despite the polite protests from HR and sometimes even the CEO. Since we’re fully remote, HR and the CEO decided they needed to get a little more creative with employee engagement. We’re a paper company so we definitely need some excitement. 

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We’ve always had fun employee activities with prizes to help boost morale and keep us engaged but now that we were fully remote, HR had to think outside of the box. Team relay races outside of the building or office trips to the bowling alley were no longer an option for appreciation gifts either for employees or for client appreciation.  

So they started brainstorming some virtual ideas for employee appreciation, especially to celebrate employee appreciation day. Eventually, they decided to let us vote on which activities we wanted to participate in.

Remote Employee Appreciation Ideas

Wellness Kits

Take care of employees’ health with specially curated wellness kits for employees with gift items such as aromatherapy candles, yoga mats, and fitness bands.

Virtual Awards

Recognize outstanding employees for being “Most Creative,” “Best Team Player,” or “Most Productive.”

Virtual Coffee Breaks

Helps employees in socializing and catching up with each other.

Personalized Thankyou Note

Send personalized messages or emails to thank them for their contributions and express appreciation for their hard work.

Virtual Games and Activities

Virtual games and trivia contests keep employees engaged by participating during work hours breaks.

team on zoom do a virtual employee appreciation idea

To boost our company’s engagement, HR sent out a Google survey titled “10 Not Lame Virtual Team Building Activities”. The list was full of online games and activities for virtual teams – though we think HR was a little generous with the title “Not Lame.”

Employee Appreciation Day Ideas for Remote Employees and Virtual Teams

Recognizing and appreciating remote employees is essential, especially given the challenges of remote work.

Curate the perfect box of handpicked gift they’ll love and send joy their way

SwagMagic Custom Merchandise

Boost team spirit and brand pride with SwagMagic’s customizable swag options! Whether it’s a stylish hoodie, sleek water bottle, or ergonomic laptop stand with your company logo, SwagMagic ensures that your remote employees feel appreciated and become brand ambassadors in their homes. SwagMagic is the name you can trust regarding quality, uniqueness, and creativity!
swag kit

SnackMagic Delight Boxes

Satisfy those mid-day cravings and fuel creativity with SnackMagic’s gourmet snack boxes. Curate a selection of delectable treats, or let your employees choose their favorite snacks. Delivered right to their doorstep, SnackMagic promises a delightful munching experience that will remind your employees of how much the company values their well-being and happiness. Make snack breaks the highlight of their day with SnackMagic!

snack box with swag

Virtual Award Ceremony

Host a virtual event where you hand out awards to employees for specific achievements or qualities. These could be serious or fun, like “Most Creative Background” or “Best Virtual Coffee Break Buddy.”

Digital Gift Cards

Send gift cards to popular online stores, food delivery services, or streaming platforms.
Gift Voucher

Online Workshops

Arrange for an online class or workshop that can either help employees with their professional growth or offer relaxation like yoga, painting, or cooking classes.

Home Office Upgrades

Offer stipends for employees to upgrade their home office with ergonomic furniture, new tech tools, or office supplies.

Care Packages

Deliver custom care packages with snacks, beverages, wellness products, or branded company merchandise to employees’ doorsteps.
Goodie bag

Virtual Escape Room

Engage employees in a virtual escape room challenge. This is both fun and a team-building exercise.

Personalized Video Messages

Encourage team leaders to send personalized videos acknowledging each member’s contribution.

Subscription Services

Provide subscriptions to meditation apps, online magazines, or other platforms related to wellness and growth.

Professional Development

Sponsor an online course or provide access to digital learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning.

Relaxation Day

Give employees an extra day off, or a “mental health day”, to relax and recharge.

Host a Virtual Party

Organize a virtual party with games, trivia, music, and possibly even a magician or other online entertainer.

Physical Books or Kindle

Send out a book relevant to your industry or a bestseller. A Kindle might be a good option for avid readers.

Wellness Kits

These could include essential oils, stress balls, wellness journals, or teas.
Spa, beauty skincare body concept. Handmade soap, coffee body scrub and body brush in wooden box

Fitness Challenge

Organize a month-long fitness challenge where employees can participate and log their activities. Reward those who are most consistent or achieve personal milestones.

Virtual Team Lunch

Deliver lunch to your employees’ homes and meet over video call.

Feedback Session

Sometimes, appreciation is as simple as listening. Host a session where you listen to employees’ feedback, concerns, and suggestions.

Personal Development Books

Send out best-selling personal development books to inspire and motivate your team.

Virtual Coffee Breaks

Set up random pairings and sponsor a coffee or tea for them to have a virtual coffee break together.
Preparing care package, seasonal gift box with marshmallow, tea,coffee or cacao box and christmas

Recognition Software

 Use platforms designed to facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, where employees can give each other ‘shout outs’ or ‘kudos’.

Custom Illustrations

Hire an artist to create custom illustrations or caricatures of each team member, which can be fun and memorable.

Share Personal Stories

Create a platform or time during meetings where employees can share personal success stories or things they’re proud of, both inside and outside work.

Tailoring these suggestions to your team’s preferences and needs is key. Whatever you choose, the goal is to make your remote employees feel valued and appreciated.

swag global gift

Virtual Employee Appreciation Event Ideas for Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Virtual Award Ceremony

Host an online event with awards for accomplishments, dedication, or fun categories like “Best Virtual Background” or “Zoom Fashion Icon”.

Interactive Workshops

Organize fun, engaging workshops such as virtual painting, cooking, or dance classes that employees can join in real-time.

Trivia Night

Use platforms like Kahoot or QuizUp to set up a fun trivia session. Add categories related to company history or inside jokes to make it more personalized.

Talent Show

Allow employees to showcase their hidden talents, be it singing, playing a musical instrument, magic tricks, or even stand-up comedy.

Virtual Escape Room

There are companies offering online escape room challenges. It’s a fun, collaborative problem-solving activity for teams.

Interactive Games

Use platforms like Jackbox Games, Skribbl.io, or Pictionary to engage teams in friendly competition.

Watch Party

Stream a movie or a series episode and watch it together. Use platforms like Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) for synchronized viewing.

Virtual Karaoke

Host a karaoke session where team members can sing their favorite songs. Platforms like Smule or Zoom can be used for this purpose.

Virtual World Tour

Use Google Earth or similar platforms to “visit” exotic locations. Invite employees to give a mini-tour of their hometown or favorite places.

Cooking Challenge

Decide on a recipe and cook together in real-time. Alternatively, employees can showcase their favorite recipes.

Meditation and Yoga Session

Bring in an expert to guide a relaxation and mindfulness session.

Pink Yoga Mat

Pink Yoga Mat

Virtual Book Club

Select a book for everyone to read. After a set period, meet to discuss insights, learnings, and reflections.

Online Quiz

About the company’s history, projects, or fun personal facts about team members.

Virtual Coffee or Tea Tasting

Send out curated selections of coffee or tea, then gather online for a tasting and discussion session.

Photography Challenge

Employees can showcase their photography skills based on themes like “A Day in My Life” or “Hidden Corners of My City”.

DIY Craft Session

Send out DIY craft kits and do a session where everyone creates something simultaneously.

Fitness Challenge

Invite a fitness instructor for a live workout session. It could be anything from aerobics to Zumba.

Storytelling Session

Everyone shares a memorable or funny incident from their life or career.

Virtual Reality Meet-up

If most team members can access VR headsets, set up a virtual reality space for a unique get-together.

Theme Days

Such as “Retro Day” or “Crazy Hat Day”. Everyone dresses up according to the theme for the virtual meet.

Hoffman Dad Hat

Whatever you choose, the key is to keep it interactive, engaging, and personal. It’s about making each employee feel valued and celebrated, even in a virtual space.

Virtual Team-Building Activities for Remote Employees to Show Appreciation

Virtual Scavenger Hunt

One idea for a non-lame virtual team-building activity is to create a scavenger hunt where team members have to search for specific items in their own homes. The team that finds the most items within a given time frame wins the game.

Virtual Trivia

Host a trivia game on a platform like Kahoot or Quizlet, and have a quiz competition about company history, industry trends, or pop culture.

Virtual Happy Hour

Team members can unwind and get to know each other in a relaxed environment.

Virtual Book Club

An online discussion about the book someone has read and loved it.

Virtual Talent Show

A Zoom call to encourage team members to showcase their talents like singing, dancing, or telling jokes.

Virtual Pictionary

This is a fun way to encourage collaboration and creativity.

Virtual Cooking Class

A fun way to learn new recipes and bond over food.

Virtual Escape Room

Solve puzzles and clues together in a virtual escape room to test problem-solving skills and build teamwork.

Virtual Charades

A unique and fun way to encourage communication and creativity.

Virtual Volunteering

A great way to build a sense of community and give back to those in need.

Anyways, we all had to vote on which team-building activity we wanted to do. During our time spent in breakout rooms, the office (aside from HR and the CEO) collectively agreed that we would all vote for the Game Show Virtual Experience. It was an event that we could all agree wouldn’t be lame.

But later that week, when HR announced the virtual event that had the most votes, we were all shocked to hear that it was a virtual murder mystery game. How could the murder mystery game have gotten the most votes? Out of all the fun activities for online meetings on that list, we’d collectively agreed that the murder mystery wasn’t worthy of our votes. We figured the votes had to be rigged. 

So when it came time to participate in the event, it was no surprise that things went terribly wrong. The whole thing felt off from the start. Bob’s Zoom screen went to a permanent freeze 5 minutes into the game. Anne and Jay both kept joining and rejoining. It was getting weird. At the midpoint, when we were sorta getting into it, 5 people from my team dropped off completely. I slacked them but didn’t get an answer… it was bizarre.

The virtual event was the office’s first try at fun Friday activities. But it was more of a freaky Friday situation than a fun Friday.

Despite the craziness, we will admit that HR is really good at generating rewards for employees to motivate us. No matter how crazy their virtual ideas for rewarding employees were, they always knew how to get us engaged and participating. Our HR team is known for their awesome reward ideas – prizes to be specific, to celebrate different employee-related days.

So yeah, we basically all agreed to participate in this eerie murder mystery event because of the prizes. These aren’t just any prizes you see. Whenever HR hosts a virtual experience or event, they give out the best prizes. We’re talking extra PTO, unlimited snack boxes, massage packages, and even a puppy.

A SnackMagic Good Vibes Only Bow

If your HR team has ever wondered how to reward employees without money, just look at what our HR team does. No matter how crazy the employee appreciation activities they host are, we always look forward to participating in the employee appreciation games because of the awesome prizes – bonus PTO, fun swag, and other must-have rewards for employees. 

HR’s ideas for rewarding remote employees weren’t always expensive either. They created a virtual wall of fame for the winners of past and present virtual employee activities. Being on the virtual recognition wall earned you bragging rights and a better plane seat during the annual company retreat. 

Examples of Swag that are a great prize

So as you can imagine, despite the strangeness of the entire virtual murder mystery event, everyone wanted to win. We’re an extremely competitive office – all friendly competition, of course! But we’re all very motivated to win the prizes when it comes to our virtual employee appreciation games.

Last year, HR had come up with a few different employee raffle ideas, and we all bought like 50 tickets each, determined to win. But this murder mystery event would be challenging to win – given the strange technical difficulties that kept happening. 

Eventually, there were only 6 of us left in the game. And, of course, Bob, who remained frozen. No one else who was left in the game would respond to Slack. Then, I was taken out, too. Like, literally, my wifi shut down for 6 hours. Everything went dark. 

Turned out there was a nationwide power outage. Probably the most bizarre timing ever. 

So, it’s safe to say this wasn’t one of HR’s smoothest virtual recognition ideas. However, it definitely makes for a good story. In the end, HR admitted they’d chosen the Murder Mystery event because Susan from HR is a huge murder mystery fanatic. Despite the Game Show Virtual Event having the most votes. But hey, we didn’t care much because HR was so sympathetic about the strange technical difficulties surrounding the event and the rigged survey scandal that we all got cool prizes out of it. I got a Good Vibes Box, Jay and Anne got a gift basket, and Bob – well, Bob got a new computer. The power outage wasn’t his problem – his computer was just from 2008. 

What are some excellent virtual recognition ideas to show employee appreciation?

Some great virtual appreciation ideas include sending remote workers personalized thank you notes, gift cards or small gifts in the mail, and praising them publicly on team calls or the company intranet to recognize their great work. Having a virtual employee of the month program is another excellent way to show appreciation.

How can I organize a virtual event for my remote team?

Consider organizing a fun virtual team building activity over video chat to celebrate a virtual employee appreciation day. This allows remote workers to connect and fosters an environment where employees feel appreciated.

What are some ways to build connections and morale with a virtual team?

Scheduling regular video calls for remote workers to check in helps them feel more connected. Additionally, showing appreciation and praising remote workers efforts through written notes, small gifts, or public employee recognition helps boost morale.

What should I consider when selecting an employee recognition gift to mail or send digitally?

Consider the remote worker’s preferences and interests when selecting a gift card or gift to mail them. Tailor the amount on a gift card to be meaningful. If sending digitally, choose an appropriate platform and include a sincere personal note.

What virtual team building activities work well to bring a remote team together?

Some great virtual team building activities include online games, virtual lunch meetings, digital scavenger hunts using photos, and video call talent shows. These allow ways for remote workers to bond.

What kind of employee appreciation gifts works well for remote employees?

Thoughtful gestures like gift cards for self-care, care packages mailed to their home, personalized plaques, or public employee recognition help remote employees feel valued and appreciated by their team and company.

 List a few thoughtful virtual employee appreciation ideas.

  • Send handwritten cards or notes of appreciation. The personal and tangible nature makes a bigger impact. Mail them to employees’ homes as a surprise.
  • Gift subscription boxes for self-care activities like yoga or meditation. It shows you care about their overall well-being.
  • Have a virtual coffee or tea break for 30 minutes to chat one-on-one. This dedicates quality time to connect.
  • Publicly recognize achievements by calling out great work in company meetings or communication channels. Praise is powerful.
  • Customize plaques or digital certificates for an employee of the month program to display.
  • Cater lunch from a favorite restaurant or bake homemade treats to be delivered to staff. Food is fun!
  • Organize game nights over video chat. Send gift cards for game purchases and snacks.
  • Create a digital “wall of fame” to showcase employee accomplishments.

The most meaningful gestures are heartfelt, personalized, and foster connections between remote staff. Consistency also matters – showing regular appreciation has the biggest influence.

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