Let us tell you the story of the Gig-dividual – the teamworking individualist.
We already know that teamwork is a main key to success in most areas of life and business. Only through teamwork we can combine different, complementary points of view to identify and seize hidden cooperation opportunities, overcome demanding obstacles and achieve challenging objectives. Synergy effects lead to results that trump what team members would produce on their own (Time Doctor, 2017), generating higher quality outcomes and more effective processes (Boundless, 2017).
However, teamwork is a challenge in and of itself. It requires emotional intelligence, where people manage their egos, develop humility, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts and, above all, commit to one another and to a common goal. (Meeteor, 2016). Not very appealing to the individualistic cultures of the modern western world. But what happens when you mix teamwork with the individualistic cultures and aspirations of the gig-economy?
Get the full recipe here:
Putting Together the Teamwork Puzzle
I bet we have all seen the classic teamwork posters with people putting together a puzzle or maybe even the ones with the group of hands gathered in the middle as a celebration of teamwork and cliché illustrations? This is not what I am about to preach to you. But preach I will.
Anyone who has worked in a team knows that the only way to do so successfully is by assessing oneself honestly and becoming the best person one can be (Mindtools, 2017). In this regard, not only does teamwork increase performance, it also promotes the development of better citizens and societies.
When we think about the criteria for working in the gig-industry or as freelancers, we often think about values such as individualism and freedom; Daredevils who are willing to live pay check to pay check. But this does not always have to be the case.
The Jobseeker’s Buffet
In our piece “The Gig Economy – 5 Ways to Win” we talked about the undeniable shift in the labor market, where it is no longer the employer’s playground, but the jobseeker’s buffet. How can this be? Some of the answer might actually lie in the attitude of the jobseeker: People are beginning to see the job-hunt as a tasting menu, where you are allowed to say pass if the job loses its appeal (USA Today, 2017). This is where the gig-lifestyle gets its comes into play – by working on a gig-basis, the jobseeker gets to work on his/her terms. Some might work like maniacs for 6 months and then take 6 months off. Some might enjoy working less in the summer and more in the winter. This is all doable thanks to flexible jobs.
But this lifestyle, in its entirety, is very much based on our key word: Individualism. Individual goals, dreams, aspirations. As satisfying as that might be, the one thing missing is this: Community. The gig-lifestyle has its downsides and this tends to be a big one for a lot of people: It can be lonely (The New Yorker, 2017). Professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School Cary Cooper comments on the subject in an article on freelancing: ”I think there is a lot of evidence that the downside of flexible working, particularly for those who work exclusively from home, is the lack of social interaction” (The Guardian, 2014).
Gig-dividual – Where Teamwork Meets Individualism
Bringing teams into the gig-industry might actually be a need more than a want. ‘People need people’ (‘Mennesker trenger mennesker’), as the Norwegian youth series SKAM has taught even the older and maybe more skeptical generations. One of the current views on individuals in teams are Meredith Belbin’s work on team role and function, which states that all team members usually take on a specific role to make the team as dynamic as possible; Bridging the gap between individualism and teamwork. She comments that in the future, teams will be more area and project oriented than ever before, educated within sales, design, communication, tech development etc.(Skills You Need, 2017). You might even be able to be part of several different gig-SWAT-teams that take on various assignments in true gig-economy spirit.
So if working within the gig-economy like this means freedom, security, individualism & teamwork, then what are we waiting for?