Building Deliberate Praise Into Remote Culture: 6 Methods We Use at Buffer

Oct 24, 2016 6 min readOpen
Photo of Nicole Miller
Nicole Miller

Director of People @ Buffer

Have you ever received a compliment that brightened your day? Your week?

As Mother Theresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”


Creating a culture of praise, positivity and recognition has been a pivotal cornerstone of our Buffer culture.

Here’s a bit more about why praise is so important, how we deliver praise and recognition across our remote team of 80 employees, and a few lessons we’ve learned.

Why praise matters: 83% of employees say praise is better than a reward

Words carry quite the punch, especially positive ones.

In the ranking of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, recognition is a key element:


Praise within your team is good for business, too: 83% of employees say recognition is more fulfilling than any reward or gift. Team recognition can even reduce employee turnover.

Gallup concluded that employees who receive regular praise are more productive, engaged and more likely to stay with their organization, than those who do not.”

Praise doesn’t need to be top-down. Peer-to-peer recognition is a powerful tool that can deepen and foster bonds between the whole team. We’ve experimented with this and instituted a tool to help facilitate this. (More on that below!)

Building praise into a remote culture

On a remote team in particular, great work can sometimes go unnoticed without deliberate effort to share information and celebrate achievements. This is one reason we’re big fans of transparency and transparent communication.

Communication on remote teams can often require a bit more work than an office environment where hallway conversations and “water cooler” discussions happen by proximity.

Because of this, we have deliberate systems in place for sharing praise.

In the past, we’ve experimented with giving our feedback transparently, and we found out that sharing constructive criticism in public view of the team wasn’t quite as good of an experience for the recipient.

For praise, however, there is lots of value in sharing publicly and often. Here are a few of our tools and procedures for sharing our praise:

Discourse: Big or smaller items to celebrate
Discourse is our forum software that we use for asynchronous communications and as an archive of essential info.

We have a category just for praise, where you’ll find fun things like this:


We use an “@all” tag for notifying the whole company, or an area tag to share praise with smaller teams.


Mary shared:


Slack gratitude room: Great for peer-to-peer praise

Our Slack gratitude channel is an awesome resource of what folks are grateful for, both in their home life or on the team. This is especially accessible and a common place for peer-to-peer praise.

Twitter Happiness Hero, Julia, shared this love for our iOS developer, Andy:


Happiness Hero Juliet shared lots of gratitude for fellow hero, Mick:


Weekly team email: Announcements and praise

Our People Team (human resources team) sends out a recap via Mailchimp every Monday of all vital information and fun stories about our teammates from the previous week.

We include praise and achievements of the whole team, many times repeating and highlighting announcements from Discourse for further emphasis.


Kicking off our All-Hands with celebrations
At our most recent All-Hands meeting, we started off the meeting with some celebrations and team achievements – everything from weddings to role changes to nomad trips!

Special thanks to Gokul Rajaram for sharing how Square runs their All-Hands and inspiring this change.


For an extra bit of fun, we encouraged un-muting our microphones so that we could all cheer and celebrate together. (We use Zoom for our video conference calls.) It created a wonderful sense of group cohesion.

It was incredible to start the meeting on such a high note and then dive into other announcements and updates.

Officevibe Bot: Prompts for reflection
To keep a regular pulse on employee happiness, engagement and health, we use Officevibe’s integration with Slack for easy and user-friendly polls.

This tool also allows us to praise to any employee at any time.


Sometimes it sends a prompt via Slack direct message:


When you send a note of feedback, the recipient is notified via direct message. Deborah was so kind to send me this:


I personally was so surprised and touched to see Deborah’s kind note. It prompted me to reflect back to our interview a year ago (I just adored Deb from the start!) and all that has happened since then. It started my day on such a high note!

Is there some way you’d like to recognize your team and you just can’t find the right tool? CultureAmp decided to build their own Slack bot to give “props”!

The occasional hand-written card
We’re believers in offline praise as much as online. Thus, the occasional gift or hand-written note is a powerful tool to encourage and surprise our teammates.

Sometimes it is for a birthday, accomplishment, anniversary, engagement, wedding celebration, baby birth — and sometimes it is for no reason at all! (Sending hugs via cards out of the blue is perhaps the most fun.) A few times, I’ve pinged managers to ask if there was anyone on their team who might need a little extra encouragement or praise (with no pressure for them to share too many details!)


A card (of any kind!) and a stamp is a low-cost, high-impact method of spreading cheer.

The most effective praise (well, what we’ve learned so far!)

We’re still working on the best ways to give great praise, but here are some of the elements we’ve noticed so far.

Be specific and genuine
Julian shared this specific praise of Michael, our data team lead:


Giving specific examples helps illustrate the larger impact and can be a touching detail for the recipient. (Sometimes we might think those little things go unnoticed!)

Details also help the feedback feel more genuine.

Be consistent and timely

I’ve found that sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day, slowing down and sharing gratitude for those around you can get a bit lost. However, taking the time to reflect and give thanks can offer reward for both sender and recipient.

What’s more is the exponential ripple effect of positivity.

As shared in a post by Officevibe, “One of the most amazing things about gratitude is its contagiousness. When you spread good vibes to others, they’re more likely to spread good vibes themselves.”

So, let us go and spread good vibes!

P.S. You rock. Thank you so much for reading this, friend!

Over to you

How can we improve up praising our team? Are there any apps or tools you’d recommend we try? What was the most meaningful praise you ever received? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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