"Teamwork." It's an abstract concept that we all recognize, but what does it really mean? For far too long, business owners have held on to rigid ideals of what effective teamwork looks like and the circumstances they need to create in order to achieve it.
As of 2018, 57 million Americans were part of the gig economy working as freelancers and independent contractors. Increasingly, more employers are beginning to allow staff members to work from home, to the point where "29% of all workers in the U.S. have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job," according to Gallup.
Now, with the emergence of a new e-based workforce, business owners can relax into the knowledge that they don't have to work so hard to create the perfect physical work environment to nurture effective teamwork – if they're able to let go of the myths about teamwork that are holding so many companies back.
Myth #1: Effective Teamwork Happens in Physical Space
For centuries, employers have rented office space, built skyscrapers, and held mandatory team meetings in conference rooms in order to get an entire workforce gathered together in the same location – all because of the assumption that people who work together must physically be together in the same space.
Good news: it's a myth.
Thanks to the wonders of Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack, and more, teams are able to not only meet "face-to-face," just like previous generations of coworkers, but now we're also able to do it at a moment's notice.
Rather than waiting a week or more to gather because the CMO is on vacation, and the email marketing expert is out sick, and the copywriter has conflicting meetings during all the times that you're available, remote teams are actually able to meet sooner and more frequently than location-dependent teams.
Translation: When you work with remote teams your project gets done faster and with the same level of high-performance communication to which you are accustomed.
Myth #2: Teams Are Only as Good as Their Managers
Sure, in the '40s, '50s, and all the way into the '90s, businesses relied on managers and supervisors to make sure everyone was staying on task and getting their work done. Back then, managers were essential to effective teamwork.
Today, though, a new workforce of highly independent, self-motivated, intrinsically driven professionals is emerging. These talented men and women are building freelance careers based on their own integrity, self-discipline, and ability to deliver.
In this new age of remote teams and a location independent workforce, independent contractors have developed to be their own managers. They are their own deadline upholders; their own clock watchers; their own productivity wardens.
Myth #3: Team Building Happens at Off-Site Events & Company Retreats
Begun circa 1692 and (much) later popularized by Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s, company picnics and team retreats were a way to bring coworkers together outside of the workplace and into a space where they felt free to form social bonds, build trust, and open up channels of communication that would help facilitate mutual understanding in the office.
Many companies still subscribe to the idea that "work is for work" and team building can – and should – only happen outside of the office at designated events.
However, today's evolving workforce is calling BS on that notion. Now, colleagues are friends on Facebook, they follow one another on Instagram, and they frequently remote-in to meetings chuckling about who's wearing the silliest thing (or nothing at all!) just below the sight of the webcam.
Team building can take place in any setting, even with team members spread around the globe. The trick is knowing how to spark conversations about the common bonds that bring everyone on your team together and unite your team with shared goals.
Shattering Effective Teamwork Myths
A team is as strong as you make it. Just as companies like Buffer, Edgar, Toggl, and Zapier are growing successful tech-based businesses with almost completely remote teams, you too can take advantage of a freeing and empowering staffing model that allows you to find the best talent from all over the world and bring them together to build something grand.
No matter where we are in the world, every human craves interaction and relationships from time to time. Allowing space for those relationships to form within remote teams is all you need to build a cohesive unit and enjoy effective teamwork within your business.
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