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There May Not Be an “I” in Team, But There’s a “Me”

You know the saying, “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” Well, not so fast. There is a “me” in team, and teamwork isn’t just about the unit as a whole anymore.

What You Know About Teams Is Wrong

You start the day together, sit together, meet together, eat together and go home together. Like a rowing crew, everything your team does is scheduled and synchronous, and work processes are like a drill you’ve all got down pat. You’re only a bolt in the well-oiled machine, a perfect engine for efficiency and creativity.

Actually, you’re missing out on each individual’s real capacity for innovation by overlooking each person’s distinct needs. Oneness is out, and dissimilarity is the new engine for teamwork (we know, mind blown, right?).

Flex work, mobility, globalization, a focus on productivity, a growing need for work-life balance, generational shifts and competition for new talent among Millennials are all factors behind the new concept of teamwork with a focus on the individual.

This modern concept of teams is nothing to fear, though, and in fact, many benefits are associated with balancing the team with the individual:

  • Encouraging individual work styles empowers employees. Empowered employees are proactive employees that care more about your bottom line.
  • Workplace freedoms like flexibility and telecommuting options help employees find their flow, which increases productivity and engagement. Asynchronous collaboration options also minimize interruptions to an individual’s natural flow.
  • Work flexibility fosters both happiness and creativity. According to new research reported by The Wall Street Journal, employees’ performance on creative tasks like brainstorming declines on strict work schedules.
  • Individual work styles encourage innovation in more ways than one. Workers can embed themselves in environments and habits that help them think outside of the box, and employees can learn from each other by discussing their failed work processes and what works.

On the other hand, suppressing individual work styles can result in productivity loss, disengagement and less leadership and innovation.

Everyone Doesn’t Work Like You

Strong teams feature a rainbow of personalities with different strengths and motivations that require different work styles, and it’s not just about introverts vs. extroverts.

Some employees are risk takers and game changers that work well under pressure, while some are detail-oriented planners. Multitaskers don’t want to be limited to a single project at a time, while others may prefer to concentrate on a single task.

Collaboration preferences run the gamut, too; while you may prefer email, your other team members might prefer phone calls, online meetings, instant messaging, social networks or even walking in-person meetings.

Then, there are also environmental preferences: the office vs. at home, music and chatter vs. silence or white noise, business suits vs. business casual and 9-to-5 vs. fluid flexibility.

Facilitating individual work styles doesn’t mean sacrificing team unity. It’s the singular mission that will motivate team members in the same direction as they build towards goals from anywhere at any time.

New Work Styles Drive the Future of Work

This evolving concept of teamwork is a major driver of big changes in the future of work, including both offices and technology.

Often, the collaborative workplace is one without walls and corner offices. The open floor plan enables constant real-time communication, creating an accessible hub of knowledge and ideas.

However, the future workplace looks different. Nooks of total privacy or semi-private spaces for project partners will support solitude as companies increasingly acknowledge that ideation and innovation begin on a solo level.

Likewise, technologies that support individual work styles on teams will continue to grow, including web conferencing, virtual team workspaces and other collaborative software. Online meetings and tools for asynchronous communication empower employees to work from home and on their own schedule.

These developments may be radical in comparison to your current workplace, but companies that resist change the most experience the greatest employee disengagement.

As business communication, teamwork and workplace environments change, PGi’s here to keep you on the cutting-edge of collaboration. Learn more about our conferencing solutions for every business now.

About Ashley Speagle

Ashley Speagle is a Florida-born, Georgia-raised communications specialist, couch movie critic, dream interpreter, acrophobic adventure seeker, outdoors enthusiast, and easy-going introvert.

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