Teamwork vs Individual Work: Find Your Ideal Option


Is it better to work with a team or individually?

"Do you prefer working alone or in a group?" is one of the most popular interview questions.

Indeed, spotting the right balance between individual work and teamwork is critical both for business success and the well-being of every professional.

Many career experts agree that team work, if organized right, helps with achieving remarkable outcomes.

On the other side, it all boils down to your personality. Some professionals thrive in a team environment, whereas others prefer to accomplish tasks on their own. As a professional, you can contribute and develop professionally in a comfortable environment.

Today, we will dive into diverse perspectives of teamwork vs. individual work. We will also weigh the pros and cons of each style to help you identify your best option.

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What is teamwork?

Teamwork means combining efforts with three or more individuals to work together to achieve shared goals. The best thing about effective teamwork is that people with diverse personalities and backgrounds contribute different perspectives, ensuring the team's success. This is often called team synergy - the situation when combined efforts achieve more than individual contributions.

Teamwork is popular in many companies. While working together, people can come up with innovative solutions and achieve goals faster than if tasks were assigned to individual employees.

The key components of teamwork

  • Effective management and direction.Quality leadership is a must for productive teamwork. A team leader should organize the work of the team, set goals, motivate, and lead the resolution of any issues. The team may function without a good leader; however, their results will be average as the effort of each member won't be used productively.
  • Strong communication skills. To thrive as a part of the team, each employee needs a set of personal skills. These include strong communication, conflict resolution, empathy, and active listening skills. The ability to face criticism and discuss unpleasant issues can go a long way, too.
  • Clear expectations. The team leader or supervisor should set a common objective as well as KPIs for individuals. This will encourage people with different viewpoints to contribute, resulting in increased efficiency.

Let's consider some amazing benefits that effective teamwork brings.

The advantages of teamwork

Higher productivity. If organized right, teamwork is more effective than individual work thanks to the synergy effect. People contribute different perspectives and discuss the project on the go, making sure the process goes faster and smoother. Plus, a group of people can complete tasks that are too complex for an individual.

Shared responsibility. Launching large-scale projects project while knowing that you are assuming personal responsibility for them can be daunting. As a part of the team, you can share responsibility with others and set yourself free from complete control. If you make a mistake, your coworker will spot it and you'll fix everything in no time.

Psychological well-being. A healthy team environment contributes to your job satisfaction and reduces stress caused by work. Plus, in a good team you can boost your interpersonal skills which are a must for career success in the long run.

Effective brainstorming and decision making. One of the key differences between individual work and teamwork is that it's hardly possible to make effective decisions on your own. However, ideas born in a successful team are more creative and have a better commercial potential. If you are looking for ways to boost your creativity, check out the ideas to find inspiration.

Better problem-solving. The team is formed from individuals with different backgrounds and viewpoints. Thus, they can see the problem from different angles and develop an effective solution. In the process of discussion or even arguing about the point only the best ideas and approaches survive.

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The downsides of working in a team

Working in a team isn't always the best choice. Take a look the these disadvantages of teamwork vs individual work:

Meetings can go out of control. When working in a group, people often schedule meetings to discuss secondary issues. It can occur that these meetings will take plenty of time which has to be spent on work, not discussions. As a result, performance suffers and the team work is not as effective as it could be.

Unequal contributions. Ideally, people should contribute their diverse perspectives to work out innovative solutions. But it doesn't always work like this. Quite often, there is a guy who is pretty laid back but gets the same salary and recognition as others. This can lead to dissatisfaction of other team members based who are solely responsible for doing all the hard work, and cause conflicts.

Conflicts. Diverse perspectives and viewpoints often lead to conflicts. You and your coworkers can dramatically disagree about what features of that mobile app to release first, or what pricing model to choose. Sometimes conflicts are not even related to work - people might not get along well or there are strings attached. If not addressed timely, conflicts can jeopardize the efficiency.

A lot depends on the leadership. The numerous benefits of teamwork can be ruined by poor leadership. If the team leader fails to organize the work so that everyone equally contributes and feels valued, the team will struggle to work productively. The same happens when your boss has a protege and downplays the contribution of others.

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What is individual work?

Individual work is a different way to approach projects and tasks. While working alone, you can work on your tasks with a deep focus and complete tasks independently. You also take personal responsibility for the results of your work and organize the process so that you complete everything on time.

You can work individually when, for example, you are the only marketer in a small company, or if you have expertise in a subject matter that your colleagues don't. For some types of tasks, it can be even more effective than team work.

Going solo: The key components of working alone

  • Self-discipline. When you work individually, there won't be a team that will encourage you to complete tasks to keep up with them. You assume sole responsibility for organizing your work to meet deadlines and getting things done. And if something goes wrong, there is nobody else to blame.
  • Knowledge and competencies. The great advantage of teamwork is that you can always ask for a piece of advice or recommendation. Working on your own requires individual expertise, as you won't have any colleagues to cover your back. If you face a challenge, you'll have to invent a solution to it on your own.
  • Productive working environment. To work on your own effectively, you'll probably need other environment than a crowded office space. To take full advantage, you'll need individual workplaces where no one will distract you. If you're a freelancer, create a quiet home office rather than work from the kitchen or backyard.

Individual work held your exercise autonomy and personal accountability. Here are the advantages of this working style.

The pros of working individually

Work at your own pace. You can plan your working days the way you like and don't have to fit your schedule to meet the working styles of others. You don't face changing priorities, conflicts, and urgent reports because another team member didn't send you the data on time. Individual work means working at a comfortable pace - you schedule tasks and complete them when and how it's comfortable for you.

Minimized distractions.Constant interruptions. Urgent meetings. Unexpected phone calls. Reminding Sarah for the fourth time to send you customer analytics. Does that sound familiar? When you work on projects alone, you can forget about interruptions like these. You will focus on tasks better, which often leads to higher productivity. Moreover, you won't have to waste your time discussing the quality of your work and your order of tasks.

You are your own boss. While you still have a supervisor, you have a higher autonomy and control over all aspects of your work. Prioritize tasks as you like, and as long as you meet deadlines and deliver, the methods of work are up to you. As a result, you devote all of your time to work, which will make you a highly effective employee.

Get all the credit. In the team environment, there are situations when the other team member gets the same recognition as you even though they didn't contribute much. With individual work, this problem disappears. You take all the credit for the job done and therefore are more motivated to contribute the extra effort.

No conflicts. Even if the team has great communication skills and works on building trust, conflicts are inevitable. Working individually will reduce the number of in-team conflicts to zero.

Teamwork is not always best for everyone. If you are an introverted person with high self-reliance, it may be comfortable for you to go solo. When you feel that working alone fits with your personality type better, opt for this working style whenever possible.

The cons of individual work

Full responsibility. You get full credit if your project is a success. On the flip side, you are the one to blame if something goes wrong. If you lack discipline or self-motivation to get things done, there will be no-one to cover your back. It can be pretty stressful so you might spend plenty of time reflecting on if you are doing everything right. So, if you are thinking of becoming a freelancer, make sure you are aware of this side of individual work.

Can get bored and uninspired.If you mostly work alone, there's a chance that you'll feel isolated, especially if you're a people person who needs to communicate with others. When you face difficult tasks, you'll have anyone next to you to think through the solution together.

No team motivation.While working in a team, people typically motivate each other during their tough or stressful times. Indeed, when you're a part of a truly enthusiastic team, you are more positive about the job and can motivate others in return. As you work individually, there won't be any motivation or psychological support as you get down to the job or feel stuck.

It takes longer to complete tasks. Teamwork is valued by employers worldwide because it brings results faster. When you take on a project to complete by yourself, you'll have to work at all of its stages. Thus getting the entire work done will take you weeks. A team will share the responsibility and complete it in a matter of days. Plus, if you lack some skills needed to complete the job, you'll need to learn them on the go.

Individual work can be invaluable when you need to work on something with a deep focus. It also suits people who want to take full responsibility and personal accountability for the work done. The ability to work at your own pace can be pretty inspiring.

Usually, employers use the balance of teamwork vs individual work. Both of these working styles require different skills and are helpful in different situations in the workplace. Let's have a closer look at when to use each.

Choosing between teamwork vs individual work: Which is best?

When choosing between teamwork and individual work, take into account your personality and the type of tasks. Some projects are better completed by isolated individuals, whereas others require group work.


  • Working collaboratively on a large project. In a connected work environment, everyone contributes to the success of the large-scale task or project. It allows taking advantage of the strengths of each employee, while downplaying their qualifications gaps and weaknesses. As a result, the task is done quicker than if only one person was working on it.
  • Idea generation. When many people with diverse perspectives engage in a discussion, the best ideas are born. Moreover, a group of people creates a collaborative, fun environment where everyone is welcome to speak up about the craziest ideas. Under these conditions brainstorming often brings amazing results.
  • Troubleshooting. Problem solving requires watching the situation from different points of view. When one person has limited experience and has the risk of making a biased judgment, a group of people can discuss and develop a win-win approach to the problem.

Individual work

  • Projects with high focus.When we speak of intellectual, analytical and complex tasks, teamwork can minimize productivity. The examples of such tasks include programming, web design, writing, analytics, engineering, and many more. Ongoing collaboration is not necessary for these roles, as it serves as a distraction.
  • Routine tasks. You can also work alone on routine tasks and ordinary responsibilities. You can get down to the task straightaway without the need to discuss it with others or distribute to several people. In this case, job is done faster and you have full control and responsibility over the process and the result.

Value of teamwork and individual work

As we've described above, both teamwork and individual work have their areas of application. If used for the right purpose, they stimulate the employee productivity and engagement, helping the organization achieve its business goals.

Both teamwork and individual work can be effective under specific circumstances. When it comes to completing large-scale, complex projects within the short time frame or generate ideas a new marketing strategy, teamwork can work miracles. On the contrary, complex intellectual tasks which require deep concentration on the subjects are better performed by individuals.

Let's return to the marketing example we've considered above: when it comes to conceptualizing a strategy for promotion of a new product online, the team will brainstorm the ideas and complete the task faster. However, when it comes to writing copy for social media and blog to support this strategy, an individual will do it better.

Choosing the employer who values your working style

If you are job-searching at the moment, opt for a company that allows you to choose the comfortable working style. In other words, if you're an introverted person who works under minimal supervision and prefer completing tasks in your way, ask if the company encourage individual work. And vice versa, if you are a people person who thrives in a team, wonder if you'll have the opportunity to work with others.

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Do you prefer working on a team or alone? Would you take the job if their working style doesn't match yours

Do you prefer working on a team or alone? Would you take the job if their working style doesn’t match yours?

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