A teamwork atmosphere is a work environment in which teamwork—working collaboratively toward a common goal—is visibly encouraged and supported. It is central to the team’s everyday work. In such an atmosphere, every team member knows that teamwork is essential, that they’re expected and accountable to participate in it, and that they can use known systems to succeed with it.
Creating a teamwork atmosphere involves setting up a workplace where members’ physical, emotional, and intellectual needs are fulfilled. Each team member is treated and supported as a vital part of the team. They also feel accepted and respected, which often leads to them feeling more motivated to contribute to the team’s goals. They must first be treated as team members before they will act the part.
What Does Teamwork Mean in the Workplace?
In a workplace environment, teamwork refers to employees who accomplish their goals through team effort. In some departments, employees work alongside other workers, but each person focuses on individual tasks without truly combining their efforts. In contrast, a teamwork-focused group works toward goals that are greater than the sum of the individual tasks that members perform.
There are three main types of teams in the workplace. The first is a group of employees that temporarily meets as a team to accomplish a specific project and disbands when the project is finished. The second type is a group that only exists to work as a team, in which individual members wouldn’t work at all except with their team. The third is the traditional department of employees who work on individual tasks but meet as a team to discuss new developments.
Whether your department is solely teamwork-focused or traditional, your staff and company can benefit from learning to create an atmosphere that encourages teamwork. Better teamwork often leads to greater workplace satisfaction and productivity.
Why Is Teamwork Important in the Workplace?
Teamwork in an organization can improve the overall quality of work and the workers’ satisfaction with their jobs. More specifically, it improves work in these three ways:
- Better Use of Resources: There is virtually no organizational department in the world that uses all of their available resources—including personnel—as well as they could. When team members work together more closely, they tend to utilize their resources more efficiently and effectively and put more of their time into productive use.
- Greater Problem-Solving Capability: All individual workers have some cognitive blind spots and make assumptions in their approach to the work they do. When several team members combine their intellectual abilities, they can point out possible solutions to each other that they might have missed by working alone (and then they can stress-test those ideas).
- Higher Rates of Productivity: People are often more motivated by being accountable to the people around them than to an impersonal metric on a computer screen. Teams provide external motivation and feelings of belonging, fun, and significance, which can all heighten individuals’ internal drive to work harder.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of teamwork in an organization. Any business or department can be measurably improved by building a teamwork atmosphere, which may be accomplished in part by holding outdoor or indoor team retreats.
What Does Teamwork in the Workplace Look Like?
Effective teamwork often includes features like the following:
- Organized Division of Tasks: A team leader must break projects into smaller parts and assign them to appropriate team members. This can also be accomplished by members themselves using an organization tool (which can be as simple as a whiteboard).
- Frequent Communication: “Working out loud” is the ultimate expression of teamwork and can be seen on a volleyball team in action. However, for work that cannot be accomplished in this way, the team can agree on fast, occasional methods for sharing information, discoveries, milestones, tips, and other updates.
- Mutual Help and Support: When they run into problems, all team members should be able to count on other members to share their knowledge and skills.
- Constructive Critique: A team should have agreed-upon times when members show their rough work in progress and receive respectful feedback from other members. This gives all members a time to question each component of a project from multiple angles and give very specific help.
4 Things That Contribute to a Teamwork Atmosphere
Several qualities and patterns help lead to successful teamwork in the workplace:
- Clear, Combined Goals: To thrive, teams must have important goals that all members agree on and can only be accomplished through teamwork. Often, team members must understand how their team goals will help the organization accomplish its mission.
- Willingness to Do Any Task: When team members are more committed to the team than to their individual comfort, they will quickly take on any task, trusting that all other team members are willing to do the same.
- Trust and Candor: Team members must believe in the helpfulness and decency of every other member. This often leads to them discussing all issues openly, without holding back details for fear of offending someone.
- Periodic Progress Assessments: Because teams are focused on combined goals, leaders must create routine ways of assessing progress toward those goals. Team members should use these assessments to modify their daily work appropriately.