18 Mar Remote Work is Good for Some But Not for Those in ‘Wrong’ Team
It has been debated whether the surge of remote work has really affected team collaborations negatively. Most online advertising agencies stress the benefits of working remotely. It’s not too surprising since these agencies are fully capable of running business operations without the need to see each other physically.
Companies such as StatusPage and Reddit, however, observed work-from-home policies’ impact on team dynamics after having attempted executing them in the wake of the pandemic, and they thought it wasn’t for them.
In the team at StatusPage, both team members and leaders expressed their discontentment with the remote work setup. They felt it wasn’t a conducive environment for creativity and communication to thrive and foster. Steven Klein, the co-founder of StatusPage, even went on by mentioning that technology and the freedom to work from anywhere were poor replacements for normal human interaction.
Reddit, on the other hand, had no trouble remaining productive in teams. But overall collaboration suffered. CEO Yishan Wong said that there were too many instances where they needed to tap someone on the shoulder and discuss issues collaboratively.
While both companies link remote work and teaming as negatively correlated variables, many workers are just simply frustrated with the people they work with. Benjamin Tarshis and Jonathan Roberts, managers of PwC, highlight that the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t create a teaming crisis – it just reminded us of the existing issues of teaming. They identified that the most basic contribution to these issues is that in many cases, people are just not on real teams nor should they be.
The common notion that teams are simply the result of placing different people together with an assigned leader is inaccurate. Teams exist specifically with a common goal in mind backed by structures of support.
Jon Katzenbach, a colleague of Tarshis and Roberts, exclaims that real teams are a small group of individuals with complementary skills who are committed to a shared goal, who share wins and losses, and who hold each other accountable. If teams lack at least one of these qualities, it begs the question of whether they should call themselves a team.
To better understand what teams are, Tarshish and Roberts break down collaboration groups into three types:
Groups in this type comprise a diverse set of perspectives and skills who tackle the most difficult issues they come across at work. Members here demonstrate high levels of trust with each other. They don’t necessarily agree with one another. In fact, they push and argue with each other in order to ensure that each member is situated in a working environment that longs after his or her progress. In addition, members demand nimble leaders who make sure he or she takes the extra mile in building team relationships. The most important and distinct quality real teams possess is their collective output. They understand the importance of utilizing each member’s unique skill set as a contribution to formulating business strategies.
There are still a couple of businesses that have working groups but define them as real teams. The difference between them is that working groups don’t maintain high levels of shared purpose and emotional commitment. However, people in this group type are proficient at working on tasks at hand. The members here assign work, share important information, and complete tasks individually. Leaders assigned in working groups focus on methodologies on how to efficiently execute collaboration.
Similar to working groups, this type of collaboration group often claims to be real teams. Teams-in-name-only don’t require discipline and commitment. Members here get work done but not always efficiently. Moreover, if there are leaders in this type of collaboration group, they typically have minimal leadership skills. Members under these leaders are focused mainly on their individual tasks and how they can achieve them. Team meetings end up with a series of one-on-one conversations between managers and their members. Conversations about how the whole team can collectively find ways to achieve shared goals are non-existent.
Many companies may deem real teams not a necessity within their organizations. But as the Baby Boomer workforce generation is almost all retired and this new wave of millennials and Gen Zs is starting to make up today’s workforce, companies must reevaluate how they keep and retain this generation of workforce.