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30 May 2022
by Dr Fran Longstaff

Teams are vital to modern businesses: it’s time to invest in them

How do businesses improve team functioning while maintaining the benefits of remote and flexible working?

Teams are vital to modern businesses: it’s time to invest in them.jpg 1


The rise in agile, digital and knowledge-based businesses make effective teamwork more important than ever, as companies compete to innovate. At the same time, the increase in remote working is challenging teams in ways they’ve never been challenged before. So, what can businesses do to ensure confident and cohesive team performance, despite the challenges that come with working remotely?

The importance of ‘teaming’

Deloitte’s 2019 report Organisational performance: It’s a team sport found that many organisations are moving away from traditional hierarchical business models to be more team-based. Of those surveyed, 31% reported they did most, or all, of their work as part of a team. 

While businesses that adopt a team-based model still have senior leaders, they differ from traditional models in two ways: 
1) Teams typically have more strategic responsibility
2) Teams are dynamic, often rapidly re-organising into different groups to work on different projects. While this might sound like a lot of work operationally, 74% of businesses who have moved to this model have reported improvement in performance. 

Effective ‘teaming’ and teamwork requires effort, but, critically, if teams can work together effectively they are able to deliver outcomes that are greater than the sum of their parts. 

The characteristics of effective teams

Since the 1980s there has been a sharp rise in the amount of academic research to define the characteristics of effective teams and teamwork. 

Broadly speaking, effective teams are able to coordinate, communicate and adapt. They are characterised by cohesion, collective efficacy, commitment, psychological safety, trust, communication and a shared understanding of each other and the wider situation. 

Challenges facing teams in 2022

Although it is widely accepted that effective teamwork leads to improved productivity, creativity and culture, the pandemic – and increase in remote working – has negatively hit team functioning. Despite an initial spike in productivity, many businesses are struggling with unmotivated teams, poor connections, creativity and culture plus a high staff turnover. In fact, findings from two recent surveys have revealed that 56% of workers don’t believe they are part of a capable team and 75% of remote employees believe that team collaboration has suffered the most in remote work. 

Although many businesses are well aware of the benefits that come with impromptu conversations by the watercooler, most are still not willing to give up flexible working and recall their workers back to the office.

How to train for dynamic remote teams

Many businesses face the same challenge. How do they improve team functioning while maintaining the benefits of remote and flexible working?

Although businesses aren’t short of options when it comes to team training providers, it’s important that they question how effective these providers will be in genuinely solving the problems that they face (eg creativity, connection, motivation, etc).

Team training has traditionally been delivered through ‘one-off’ sessions in goal setting, team reviews, role clarification, leadership styles, psychological safety or teambuilding, etc. While these sessions provide valuable content, it is important to acknowledge that they are often limited in the degree to which they can deliver sustainable, improved team functioning. 

Crucially, only 1 in 5 of us apply anything we’ve learnt from one-off training sessions, because they do little to change existing habits and practices. This is likely to be an even greater challenge in remote teams.

Furthermore, one-off team training does not lend itself to the current world of dynamic, ever-changing teams. As teams rapidly form, disband and re-group with different members, they need to be doing training together on a regular basis tailored to both the make-up of the members and the challenges they face. In short, teams don’t just need training. They need tools that enable them to train together and improve their existing ways of working (eg meeting tools). This is what we do at Fika: Mental Fitness. 

In partnership with Fika

Our pioneering approach's proven to prevent mental health decline & increase employee performance.

Contact us today