by Matt Alderton | February 11, 2019
Every manager knows the importance of having a cohesive team. When colleagues know and trust each other, they overcome obstacles; when they don't, they create them. These days, however, the prevalence of remote workers makes team building a challenging prospect.

"Research consistently shows that remote employees tend to feel excluded from the company culture," author Kuty Shalev writes in an article for the Harvard Business Review. "Remote workers report feeling as if they are not treated equally and often fear that their colleagues are working against them. When a problem arises, nearly half of remote workers let it fester for weeks or more."

The good news: Teams don't have to work together in a literal sense in order to work together in a figurative sense. Despite the physical miles between them, they can come together successfully as long as their manager knows how to unite them.

Shev's suggestion for doing exactly that is to "generate structured conversations around shared content."

"To improve workplace integration, my company … set out to generate deeper conversations among coworkers through virtual meetings structured loosely like a book club, but with a wider variety of content and platforms," Shalev writes. "For example, we had everybody watch the same TED talk, read the same book or article, or take the same online learning course. Then, we met via video conference and asked everybody to share a reaction, with one person speaking and then choosing the next contributor to speak for about the same length of time."

During discussions, leaders asked employees to share stories demonstrating how the content related to them.

"If we discuss an article's advice and ask, 'Have you used these skills in your personal life?,' we hear stories that reveal much more of the whole person and provide a greater glimpse into that person's character," Shalev concludes. "Gathering this kind of direct knowledge about coworkers creates the kind of trust that's especially important in global teams."

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