Describing yourself as a team player on a resume is sort of like saying you like long walks on the beach on a dating site: it’s just the thing to do.

But teamwork in 2015 is more than a cliché: it's the way work is done. In fact, regardless of the size of the organization where you work or the role you play in the organization, odds are you have to play nice with people on three to five teams — often at a geographic distance.

So much for the days when loners like New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell could lock himself in his private office day after day, week after week, year after year — for 30 years — without publishing a single story. These days, an enthusiastic team would simply step in and finish the rough drafts he started, cobbling the stories together by committee.

The bottom line: If you still believe "none of us are as dumb as all of us," then the modern workplace is no place for you.

That's one the key findings of joint research by CMSWire and David Coleman, founder and managing director of Collaborative Strategies. We surveyed 250 CMSWire readers to get a snapshot of workplace trends, including distributed collaboration and the tools that are supporting this new way of working, to determine attitudes about employee engagement, productivity and meetings.

New Ways to Work

There are as many definitions of collaboration as there are people who study the space. But simply stated, collaboration means working together to achieve a common goal, often a business benefit.

Distributed collaboration takes the concept one step further: It describes the ability for people "to work as an integrated team or group at a distance (both time and space) from each other in a coordinated manner for a specific purpose or goal.”

In this age of remote offices and geographically dispersed workforces, it's just how business is done.

But guess what? Fewer people are collaborating on smartphones and tablets than you may think. The survey found most collaboration today is still done on laptops, even with the drive towards mobile. We expect this to change over the next few years as there are more mobile options, spurred by everything from better mobile collaboration tools to more mobile friendly sites (which Google's new algorithm is sure to promote).

There's more. We're not just team players. We're really busy, multi-tasking team players. More than half of the survey respondents work on more than eight projects simultaneously — and that likely leads to what everyone seems to describe as the bane of their daily work, those not-so-productive meetings.

Learning Opportunities

Two out of five people spend half their days in meetings, the survey found. (Is it any wonder so many people claim they can't get anything done during an eight-hour workday?) The top five meeting problems are:No clear agenda in advance of the meeting; people are not prepared or don’t attend; people have personal agendas; everyone rehashes old topics and decisions; and then there are those annoying late arrivals.

Survey respondents generally like their work and want to collaborate successfully, with less wasted time and redundancies. What would make collaboration more successful?

  • Great people
  • Flexible work environments, including the freedom to telecommute
  • Technology to keep everyone connected

But collaboration is better in theory than practice, according to survey respondents. Just over half (50.3 percent)felt that their tools and infrastructure do not support distributed work.

So what can we do to make it better? What's missing from the collaboration landscape? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


 Title image by Asa Smith Aarons/all rights reserved.