Building a cohesive team isn’t something that’s accomplished overnight, and the challenge is magnified when said team isn’t located in the same time zone. Isolation and loneliness are often acutely felt by those in a remote work environment, who can begin to wonder whether or not their contributions are truly appreciated.

Those running the strongest remote organizations are keenly aware of the benefits of showing their support for others. These include (but aren’t limited to) increased productivity, greater motivation, better morale, and even decreased turnover. It isn’t difficult to see the tangible benefits: in-depth knowledge retention, lower operational costs, and potentially much higher profits.

Convinced that this is worth the effort? Below, I’ve chronicled a few cost-effective ways that leaders and managers can meaningfully connect with their remote colleagues without breaking the bank or investing lots of time. These tips will go a long way toward cultivating loyalty and a sense of commitment without requiring financial incentives.

5 Simple Ways to Show Gratitude in a Remote Work Environment:

1. Drop them a virtual thank you (emojis welcome).

Nobody likes full email inboxes, but everyone enjoys receiving friendly notes of acknowledgement from their supervisors and teammates. Don’t worry about building any fancy graphics or inserting sought-after gifs; a couple heartfelt sentences and a well-placed emoji or two are all you need to get your message of gratitude across.

2. Share asynchronous kudos internally.

Whether it’s a virtual high-five or a quick note in your team’s Slack channel, your employee and coworkers will know exactly who rocks and why, and (perhaps even more importantly) that you care about recognizing their efforts. Better yet, this action could set off a chain of kudos and further engender a culture of appreciation.

3. Mail a funny or supportive greeting card.

“Hello, your name is Awesome!” reads a greeting card I recently received from a colleague, who kindly took the time to enumerate the merits of my work. Her gesture brought a smile to my face and continues to do so now that I have it on my fridge. These visual reminders don’t require much time or preparation, yet they lead to a more lasting way of thanking others for a job well done.

4. Give ‘em a round of applause in your next meeting.

This is calling people out for all the right reasons. Simply set aside time on the agenda to speak, keeping the actual topic under wraps if you’d like, and then offer up your glowing retelling of a recent win. Thank the employee who’s responsible, and encourage others to join in by honoring others’ successes. You might consider adding a (time-bound) line item for praising smart moves and valuable insights.

5. Send along a small, thoughtful gift.

Got an avid reader on your team? Scour Etsy for a super cool homemade bookmark. Know your coworker’s a foodie? Check out some unique entertaining accessories. Is your boss a big traveler? Think unusual luggage tag. The point here is that you can make others feel respected through a meaningful nod to their hobby or interest, and you can easily do it for under $10.

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