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3 practical tips to keep connected if you’ve become a virtual team leader overnight

Our Global Head of HR Carmen Manetoiu shares some actionable advice for line managers who suddenly find themselves working from home as a result of the Coronavirus.

She’s already got us thinking differently about how we work together and sharing fun ideas of our own.

Wondering how you’ll keep yourself and your team connected and, let’s face it, sane during this extended period of isolation?

As a company with a mobile global workforce, we are lucky to have the tech and collaborative tools that enable all of us to work from home. But many of our people are normally based in offices around the globe, and reality is starting to sink in as we prepare to work from home for an undefined and extended period.

Basically, many of us have become virtual leaders overnight!

While some of us are already used to managing teams remotely because they regularly work from home or are located in different offices/timezones, others may find this a bit confusing.

I am a manager who is used to being in the same room with my team on a daily basis, so having had to switch to working remotely has forced our team to explore new ways of working together:

  • we’re now having a daily team catch-up call every morning
  • we’re actually using the dedicated HR Slack channel created 2 years ago!
  • we’re getting used to using video calling even when we’re not wearing make-up and with our kids occasionally waving at the camera 🙂

Some ideas to keep connected with your teams

1. Communicate more with the members of your team

Especially in the current context, where anxiety levels are high, it’s very important to communicate regularly within our teams – think about setting up extra daily team calls and make sure to adhere to the regular team meetings in the calendar.

Move meetings online, do not cancel or postpone them.

Use video calls more often to create a better sense of personal connection. It’s not quite the same as sitting across the table, but it is the next best thing. Use visual aids for your online meetings – slides, minutes documents, screenshots.

Have regular 1-1 calls with each report. Make some time for small talk and personal conversations both individually, or at the start of meetings.

Some people may be having a hard time at the moment, depending on the general atmosphere in each of the countries and their own personal situation – e.g. if they live alone, or if they are predisposed to anxiety and depression, so this is a time when we need to monitor people’s mental health so we can support them.

2. Help your team members maintain healthy work habits

Encourage your team members to try and keep the same working hours as if they were coming into the office and to the 1-hour lunch break. Try to do the same to model this healthy behaviour.

3. Agree an online team routine in the coming days

It will be important to keep our teams engaged and motivated during the coming days, so let’s encourage them to come up with ideas on how to maintain their ‘virtual’ team spirit and lift their mood in the coming period.

Some examples:

  • create a Slack channel for sharing less gloomy things about remote working, COVID-19, or anything else that might come up as a result of this situation
  • organise virtual team coffee breaks and attached Zoom meetings
  • build a shared/collaborative Spotify playlist so you’re all listening to the same music while working, etc.

Our HR team are working to come up with some ideas for local/global initiatives to support engagement and morale across Lingo24.

I’d love to hear any of your ideas about how to stay connected through this difficult time.

In the meantime, stay safe!

Carmen Manetoiu, Global Head of HR, Lingo24

Within Lingo24 Carmen is the ultimate people person, she is head of our HR team and is based in our largest hub in Timisoara, Romania.

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