A lot of us have been working from home for a while now. Some companies, like Twitter and Slack, have even decided to make it a permanent arrangement. Whether you’ll return to the office or not, it’s time to look at your remote leadership skills.

As remote work becomes the norm, the ability to effectively manage staff - wherever they are - will probably improve your CV. But right now, it will definitely improve your team’s wellbeing.

Here’s our tips for managing remote teams.

1. Whatever you do, don’t micromanage!

An ongoing survey by psychologists has found that many managers are struggling right now. 40% of them don’t feel confident in their ability to manage remote workers.

The researchers, who’ve spoken to 1,200 people across 24 countries, speculated that many people have been less productive lately due to external issues like lack of childcare and compromised finances. They also hypothesised that many managers would blame this lull on going remote.

As it turns out, this is exactly what’s been happening in many organisations.

In many cases, this has led to mistrust and micromanagement. But this isn’t an effective way to get the best out of people. It causes stress, interferes with work-life balance and actually hurts productivity further.

Instead, managers need to be empathetic. Try to maintain confidence in your own skills, as well as your team’s.

2. Cut down on meetings

As pointed out in our article on remote time management, constant meetings mean employees are jumping between tasks lately. This leaves them with less time to focus on getting work done.

So instead of being a micromanager, let your team block out sections of their calendar and log out of Slack for some uninterrupted concentration time.

And instead of having ad hoc calls everyday, schedule recurring meetings with your team on a weekly basis. You should also check in with individuals to see how they’re doing.

One of the most underrated remote leadership skills is knowing when a meeting is - and isn’t - necessary. Make sure there’s a purpose behind each one. Then, after having a catch-up with your colleagues, follow a precise agenda. Don’t waste anyone’s time.

3. Lead by example

Working from home can blur the lines between your personal and professional life. Those who aren’t used to the arrangement may find it hard to log off in the evenings - especially if you’re still online. They might even feel like they can’t take time off when they’re under the weather.

Your actions influence your team - particularly during times of change and uncertainty. So lead by example and show everyone it’s okay to be human.

Take holidays, don’t work too late and sign off early if you need to mind the kids. This will make everyone else feel better about doing the same.

4. Make sure everyone has their say

During face-to-face meetings, everyone usually understands what’s being said - even when people are talking over each other. But in the virtual world, we’re missing out on body language and social cues.

A big part of managing remote teams is acting as a moderator. On calls and in message threads, make sure everyone has their say so they feel like part of the team.

It’s also your place to nurture bonding and facilitate informal chats. Remote workers are always at risk of feeling isolated, but they can usually combat this by socialising after work. But that’s not so easy right now. So make sure you set aside time to catch up with everyone.

Find out how their family, partners or pets are doing. Ask about their weekend plans or request a book recommendation.

5. Hire employees suited to remote work

When taking on new hires, look out for enthusiastic and self-motivated candidates. (Here you’ll find some key interview questions to help you out.) This way you can be confident in their ability to be productive while working from home - so you shouldn't get the urge to micromanage them.

Remote leadership comes with some unique challenges. But when done right, there’s loads of benefits too - for example, better employee retention. So learn how to make it work for you and your team.

Looking for some reliable remote candidates?

Contact Prosperity. Our recruiters would be delighted to advise you on the best approach to hiring remote employees.