Where I work, there are a number of people who want to work alone in a cubicle all day, with only brief interactions with others. They believe that if they can just concentrate and stop any interruptions, they can get more done.
It’s a valid argument. Repetitive, mindless tasks are usually faster and more efficient without distractions. I started my professional “career” stamping mail and I could fly through it when I was focused. The problem I see is that these people are software developers – one of the least mindless jobs out there!
When people have been sequestered for too long, I think they forget the benefits of working closely with a group of peers. And while you can have success on your own, the personal benefits of collaborating cannot be ignored.
There is endless research on the dynamics of teams, so I’ll just share a few things that I have experienced firsthand. Just one disclaimer…to gain these benefits; you must actively participate on the team. ;)
- Self-esteem boost – other people on the team need your knowledge, your skills, and your unique perspective on a problem. It feels good to be needed.
- Occupational validation – working with others toward a common goal can affirm that you’re on the right career path and that you can make a difference in your corner of the world.
- Better ideas – team members stretch each other’s assumptions, which stokes your creativity, leading to better solutions.
- Accountability – when we get lazy, we need our peers to call us on it.
- Growth – I’m not talking about food days. ;) The best way to master a skill is to both pair with someone who can teach you and to teach someone who can learn.
- Comic relief – We laugh louder and fuller when in the company of others.
Deep down, we all know that we don’t know all. That’s why we are designed to interact and connect with others. Some of us need more, others need less, but without frequent, meaningful interactions, our work is less than what it could be.
So if you prefer a solitary, mindless job, don’t develop software. There are plenty of jobs in the mailroom for you.