Half hate teamwork

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Employees need patience, experience and fairness to work well in a team

Less than half (49%) of workers enjoy working in a team, according to research from Dropbox in conjunction with The School of Life.

The survey of 2,000 workers found that the main difficulties faced were ‘freeloaders’ not pulling their weight (51%), teammates who were only out for themselves (41%), managing the egos of teammates (37%), arguments among the team (34%) and being held back by others (29%).

They reported that the keys to a successful team were: having a common goal, chosen by 58%, and working with people you respect, chosen by 56%. This was closely followed by having clearly defined roles and responsibilities (55%), and working with people you like (53%). Having a strong leader only came sixth in a list of factors that make for an effective team.

When it came to traits of individual workers, patience (67%) was the number one factor. This was followed by experience (61%), fairness (61%) and helpfulness (59%).

Jennifer Brook, lead design and teams researcher at Dropbox, said firms need to understand how teamwork impacts their business. “Teamwork is one of the most vital assets for organisations – and the research shows that in many cases it simply isn't working,” she said.

“Organisations need to embrace the benefits of teamwork – and address the issues that exist – in order to harness and unleash the creativity of those working within teams. Only then can they ensure everyone is achieving what is possible and thriving within their team rather than being held back. While technology has evolved beyond recognition in the past 20 years, let alone 2,000 years, the fundamentals of people working together have not changed in that period."

Brennan Jacoby, philosopher at The School of Life, suggested firms think about how to get the best out of their teams. “Studies show – and common sense confirms – that trying to generate compelling new ideas together, in the same physical space, at the same time, is pretty much always ineffective,” he said. “In contrast, online collaboration where individuals contribute to projects independently and over time performs far better. The reason is that it allows us all the time to go away and reflect alone, before putting our thoughts down.

“Creative thinking and good collaboration in groups requires, as a critical component, that we are able to go away and have enough time to reflect alone, in solitude – before sharing our thoughts. Where collaboration is concerned, it matters not only who comes together – but how they come together.”

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