How can we arrange a farewell function for a fully remote worker? They are a long way away, as in ten hours by plane, so a one-off visit to hand over work and say goodbye isn't feasible.

Having them video conference into a party at our end just seems like them missing the fun. What else could we do to show our appreciation?

Note that we'd still ask the employee for his input before organising anything, but we'd prefer to say "We'd like to do xxx for you, what do you think?" instead of "What would you like to do?".

Update - Sorry, this is very late. The company paid for a meal for the departing employee and his Fiancé. The team joined them briefly via video conference. The meal was well received. Joining via video conference felt a bit forced, I would probably skip that if this ever happens again. Ultimately, providing a good reference was the best gift. Employee is doing great in new position and we remain in touch.

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    Ask the remote worker what they'd like to do. Some people just want to leave quietly. – Criggie Aug 8 '16 at 9:50
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    @Criggie - asking "what would you like to do" in an open ended way might get a response - but there's a fair chance of them saying "uh dunno" - when they would like to do something. I'd rather put it as "we'd like to do xxx for you, what do you think?" – paj28 Aug 8 '16 at 10:12
  • @JoeStrazzere - Hand over absolutely is important to us. There are a number of considerations why we can't do an in-person handover, and I don't feel comfortable explaining them in a public forum. – paj28 Aug 8 '16 at 10:33
  • @JoeStrazzere - Yes, it is. There have been a few unfortunate events with this employee, and I feel that making a bit of effort with a remote farewell function is the least we can do. – paj28 Aug 8 '16 at 14:44

For the purposes of the this answer I am assuming that the handover of information and material is being handled separately.

I have been that remote person.

One suggestion to show appreciation is to provide a gift certificate to a very nice place. Because everybody has different tastes you will need their cooperation when selecting the location/business.

The risk of trying to do anything via video chat is the problem that you will have reinforced the idea that they were never a true part of the team. I would want to avoid the appearance that the main part of the team is having more fun than the person that is supposed to be the guest of honor.

If there is a real desire to have a ceremony, you could still do a video/audio link during a staff meeting but keep it short maybe only 5-10 minutes. It would be an opportunity to publicly thank them, without the need to plan a very elaborate event.

Of course if the handover must be done in person, you could just decide to invite them for the day, pay the transportation cost, and still give them the gift certificate and a team lunch.

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    +1 A gift certificate (or a nice gift if you know what the person might like) seems like the gesture most likely to be actually appreciated. – user45590 Aug 9 '16 at 12:59

Depending on what he likes you could organise some kind of online game, which could be funnier than just simply video conferencing a party on your end.

Many games just requires line of sight and voice, like the one where you put a paper on your forehead and you're supposed to guess who you are. Or depending on what you like, you could consider online video gaming which could be a fun for all.

Or even, instead of throwing a party on your end, make it like a show for him. On many occasions on my last jobs we made little funny shows where we "roasted" the soon-to-be ex-coworker and I thinks this could translate well in video conference.

Edit: Apparently roasting someone could be a source of trouble, so depending on your relationship with the coworker, you could consider doing some kind of talent show or funny trivia quizz instead. If you choose the roasting approach, be sure you're aware of what is comfortable to joke with and what is not.

If nobody can go visit him, you could also consider having a gift delivered to him while you're video conferencing, so you could share the gift opening's live, so the party would have some "physical" component.

I hope this helps.

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    "roasted" Nooooooooo. No matter how informal your workplace or how much of a "boy's club" it is, that is just an all-around bad idea. It will cause bad blood and is bound to end in tears sooner or later. Offensive humour has no place at work. – Lilienthal Aug 8 '16 at 10:33
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    @Lilienthal - roasts can be a lot of fun. I've been to several and never saw any tears. – WorkerDrone Aug 8 '16 at 12:14
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    I fully agree with Lilienthal, roasting is really not a good idea. – Seth Aug 8 '16 at 12:22
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    Roasting doesn't have to be obscene or offensive. You can make a pretty good show out of telling stories or jokes about your co-worker without going down the blue road. – DJClayworth Aug 8 '16 at 14:14
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    Even if polite, the point of a roast is friendly embarrassment -- and it's darned hard to draw the "friendly" line for someone you aren't seeing in person every day. – keshlam Aug 9 '16 at 12:38

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