Working Independently vs Collaborating with Others: It’s Not Black and White

To do our best work and exercise our creativity and contribution, it may require us to work in solidarity or collaborate as part of a team.

Some prefer the social open concept office space while others need privacy and quiet to do their best work. At different stages of our professional journey, we may be called on both and should be comfortable in both environments. Inventors, artists, writers, freelancers, soloprenuers, and other professions and personalities may need more quiet time to focus and concentrate to realize their best work.

In an office, teams collaborate to solve complex challenges, plan strategic goals and complete larger projects as a group. The decentralization of power in open concepts allows employees to approach and communicate with the leaders of the company with ease.

When there is a clash of ideas or a member of the team not engaged, the group may suffer when collaborating. Different projects and goals call on different work practices. If you are working with a group of smart people that have more experience than you, sponging off their intellect and experience while contributing where you can, offers you an opportunity to learn from people that are better than you and helps you grow. Autonomy and responsibility for individual parts of a project works well for teams and makes for more efficient meetings and progress reports. 

Working independently can be lonely and you may lack getting feedback on your work that can help you improve. But it also allows you to make your own decisions. You have more time to focus and concentrate for extended periods of time and get more work done with less distractions. Working solo requires you to have discipline and be accountable to yourself and customers. Being comfortable both working with others and also independently makes you a well-rounded professional.

Creative people often need to solidarity to produce their greatest work. That said, there is only so much you can know on your own. Collaborating helps you to achieve a vision and accomplish more collectively. Are you better suited to be on a team or would you rather express yourself in your work independently?