Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Getting teams to collaborate effectively can be a challenge in the workplace

Two-thirds of working people surveyed for Atlassian's "The State of Teams 2024" report complain that their team is constantly being pulled in too many directions

Published: Jun 19, 2024 10:32:37 AM IST
Updated: Jun 19, 2024 11:54:50 AM IST

Employees are often so dispersed that they have difficulty working together. Image: Morsa Images/Getty ImagesEmployees are often so dispersed that they have difficulty working together. Image: Morsa Images/Getty Images

It's often said that if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. This proverb is all the more true in the world of work, where teamwork is essential to the smooth running of any organization. But employees are finding it increasingly difficult to collaborate effectively, according to a recent survey by Atlassian.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, successive lockdowns and widespread remote working severely tested collective efficiency within organizations. Despite a return to normality, employees are still struggling to work together because they are so dispersed. Geographically, of course, but also cognitively.

Indeed, employees often feel overwhelmed at work. Increasingly, they are required to work on a whole range of projects, many of them very different. Two-thirds of working people surveyed for Atlassian's "The State of Teams 2024" report* complain that their team is constantly being pulled in too many directions.

But constantly juggling multiple tasks is very cognitively taxing, as science has demonstrated time and again that our brains are not designed to multitask. To maintain the illusion of productivity, employees tend to concentrate on small, quick tasks that don't require much concentration (dealing with emails, etc.), rather than on more challenging missions, which are often the most strategic for the company.

Solutions to help teams work together


This phenomenon of dispersion is not lost on workers' superiors. Executives estimate that only 24% of their staff carry out tasks that contribute to the company's performance. So how can workers be encouraged to focus more on higher value-added activities? Guiding them is one solution. Managers can organize regular meetings with their teams to discuss individual objectives and check the status of current projects, for example.

But they should be careful not to overdo it. Scheduling meetings all the time can be extremely time-consuming. Office workers spend an average of 14.8 hours a week in meetings, according to Reclaim.ai, a considerable amount of time that is rarely put to productive use. The workers surveyed by Atlassian estimate that they spend more time in meetings than at their desks, making progress on the issues raised during those meetings. Companies therefore need to clearly define the objectives of team meetings, so that staff who take part no longer feel they are wasting their time.

At the same time, they need to facilitate internal knowledge sharing. Because, unlike rumors and gossip, information can have a hard time circulating within a company. Some 55% of employees surveyed by Atlassian say they have difficulty finding the information they need to be effective. The proliferation of corporate communication channels (email, SMS, instant messaging, etc.) has a lot to do with this. Artificial intelligence could help remedy this problem, provided workers learn how to use it properly. At present, many employees do not know how to make the most of this technology in their working lives.

*The Atlassian "The State of Teams 2024" is based on responses from 5,000 office workers in the USA, Australia, India, Germany and France, as well as 100 executives from Fortune 500 companies.