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Published on March 18, 2020

8 Reasons Why Teamwork Is Important at Work

8 Reasons Why Teamwork Is Important at Work

We all work on teams in some part of our life, and the importance of teamwork is evident in each one of them. If we don’t get our work finished on time, we realize at some level that we’re pushing responsibilities onto other members of the team.

However, the importance of teamwork goes beyond fulfilling our duties to others. The old African proverb on teamwork says it best:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Teamwork helps us grow as people and accomplish more than we ever could on our own.

Without teamwork, we wouldn’t be able to build companies at all. So what, exactly, makes teamwork so important in the workplace?

Teamwork helps us in many ways. Without teamwork, many of our jobs would likely never get done. Below are just a few more reasons outlining the importance of teamwork.

1. Have Empathy and Support for Other Team Members

The emotional side of leadership is finally getting the attention it deserves. Executives have found that while people might respect their “no-nonsense” boss, they might not be as inspired by them.

Empathy can make team members more loyal, engaged, happy, creative, and willing to work together. A team working together closely can see what each member contributes.

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Think about what that means: through empathy, employees on a team can hold each other accountable, lend helping hands, and speak up when someone needs a break. They are dependent on each other for success and have real, in-person interactions, so they are much more likely to put themselves in each others’ shoes.

My team uses a project management platform called Teamwork to support each other, and we’ve seen improvement in how we look out for each other. If everybody’s on the same page about where a project stands, it makes it easier to understand where somebody’s mindset is when they are doing certain tasks.

2. Share Responsibilities

Like a football team, each member of a work team has his or her own specialty. Even if the right tackle dominates every play, it doesn’t mean that the team is going to win. It takes every player, doing his or her part and working together to win.

Companies can’t hope to compete if only half the team is pushing for the finish line. If one player is having a bad day, the rest of the team has to pitch in — which keeps those team members from owning their own roles.

This is how teams work: they make decisions that benefit the group, even if it means certain members need to make sacrifices. Group identity is what might inspire someone to go to war for their country or put in overtime hours on a group project.

When you identify as being part of a team, it triggers a shift in you goals. No longer are you thinking “What’s in it for me?” You’re thinking “What does this mean for us?” This motivates you to then pursue the goals of the group, making the company stronger.

3. Build Bonds

We’ve probably all done the “trust fall” exercise. While this might be the most common team-building exercise, it’s not the only way to help a team come together. Workplace teams spend long hours together and need to trust each member to protect everyone’s livelihood.

A few ways to encourage them to build strong bonds and work better together are:

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Games and Competitions

Companies can encourage their teams to build strong bonds through things like games and competitions. Games like waste basketball, ping pong, and two-minute trivia can help break up the work day and encourage the team to get to know each other on a personal level in a fun, friendly setting.

Eating Together

What brings people together like food? Almost nothing. Encourage employees to eat together. Maybe that means taking a slightly longer lunch break or going out on Fridays. Enjoying happy hour or appetizers after work are also smart strategies.

Encouraging Personal Conversations During Downtime

You don’t want your workers goofing around all of the time, of course, but the occasional watercooler conversation can actually promote productivity and teamwork.

Exchanging pictures of kids and pets during downtime, or sharing hobbies and passions helps team members to relate on a personal level. That, in turn, strengthens the bonds that make them an effective team.

4. Improve Service Quality

Especially in industries that aren’t known for their customer service, teamwork can make a company shine.

The book “You Don’t Have to be Ruthless to Win” by Jonathan Keyser, in particular, inspired me to be more selfless. Keyser leads a fast-growing commercial real estate company that operates with the principle to selflessly serve others[1] on the team and around them. Because buy-in must be broad for a team to function, Keyser considers clients part of that culture as well.

Learning to serve others as a team can be challenging and complicated, but it can also be deeply rewarding. Selfless service requires people to collaborate and go the extra mile. A team’s relationships must be built on trust and mutual respect for its members to act selflessly.

5. Promote a Positive Office Culture

Not all employees prefer to work on a team as opposed to as individual contributors, but nobody wants to work on a team that doesn’t get along. Arguments and tensions make work less fun for everyone involved.

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Good team players make good co-workers, which ultimately create a good culture. We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our own families, so it’s important to enjoy being with those that we’re around.

To make your work culture more enjoyable and productive, it’s important to encourage employees to be good team players. Team players come together to get the job done, even if it means putting in a little more time than someone else.

6. Foster Psychological Safety

A few years ago, Google researchers dug into a question companies have been trying to answer for ages: What defines the perfect team?

Google discovered[2] that it wasn’t about years of experience, personality alignment, or perks. It was the fact that ideal teams have psychological safety. In essence, good teams have the ability to fail, share opinions, and debate ideas without worrying about being judged or ostracized.

Psychological safety and teamwork are mutually reinforcing. Teams that work well together learn to feel safe with one another. That security can help develop more creative, effective ideas for the company as a whole.

In a Harvard Business Review interview[3], Amy Edmondson — the researcher who first coined the term — explained that psychological safety is built structurally and behaviorally. The former is about constructing small teams whose members identify with each other; the latter is a matter of people asking for feedback and being vulnerable.

7. Create Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is rare at companies that do not appreciate the importance of teamwork. When team members know that their peers have their backs, they feel free to close their laptops at the end of a long day or go on vacation and utilize their PTO.

Because they feel taken care of, they’re also willing to go the extra mile when work needs to get done. If a co-worker needs time off for a vacation or other personal time, everyone else on the team can come together to pick up the slack.

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We all deserve time away from work. Having co-workers to help you out, tell you to take time off, and hold you accountable for resting and relaxing helps to make that happen.

8. Encourage Innovation

Innovative companies know the importance of teamwork. Rarely, if ever, are innovations the result of a genius locked away in a laboratory by him or herself.

Keith Ayers, head of the Integro Leadership Institute, breaks innovation into four roles[4]: creating, advancing, refining, and executing.

Creators are idea people. They see possibilities, even if those ideas may not work in practice. Advancers promote those ideas, ensuring they do not die on the vine. Refiners do the work of getting to the idea’s meat: They ask “what if” questions to find its best possible iteration. Executors, of course, turn the idea from a blueprint concept into an actual product. It would take a very precise person a lot of time to do all of that on their own.

Final Thoughts

Teamwork isn’t just a buzzword your boss likes to throw around. The importance of teamwork can be seen in every Fortune 500 company, but also in other aspects of life, such as successful relationships with friends and family. Without teamwork, we would likely not have safe roads to drive on, fresh food to eat, complex medical procedures, and so much more.

Teamwork is what separates companies that sputter out from those that succeed. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, use teamwork to help you go the distance.

More Tips on Teamwork

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Keyser: Our Culture
[2] The New York Times: What Google Learned From its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
[3] Harvard Business Review: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace
[4] Entrepreneur: Innovation Takes Teamwork

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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