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[Teamwork Musings] We need to "clock in" teamwork time to acknowledge the ways we "team together"

Edited

Context

How do you know you're investing the right amount of time across your work portfolio?

  • It's a lot to manage your own schedule when so competing priorities fly at you.
  • It's a lot to manage projects, let alone manage a period of time and ensure that your team allocates time reflective of priorities. 
  • It's a lot to plan for all the things that are unforeseen. Which I suppose means it's a lot to emotionally receive changes of plans when you can't actually plan for last-minute changes.

From a study on teamwork perceptions conducted in partnership with Bloomberg at the end of 2021, we learned that...

  • Over one-third of respondents regularly work with as many as 49 co-workers in a typical day.

  • On average, more than half of the workday (4.34 hrs) is spent collaborating with other departments.

My hot take

While many focus on how they allocate their individual work time, I don't think most spend enough time evaluating their time spent with teammates.

From grabbing food or drink with coworkers, to casually chatting about changes in the company or the world, to reacting to updates in async communication channels, to learning skills through group classes...we don't always consider time spend with teammates as important. And therefore, if that's true, we don't bake that into our planning process. But relationship-building, hearing how people feel about business or non-business changes, and managing and balancing team energy takes a lot of time that we should not only account for, but plan to include.

Does this resonate with you? 

  • What time with teammates do you consider when planning your workload?
  • Do you think there needs to be a shift in spending more time with teammates?
  • Who is even in charge or makes the case to spend time with teammates?

10 comments

I like this musing because it's something I do but have found it tricky to articulate and extol the value of it. I remember a leadership course years ago sharing that you need to treat the 'team' and the performance and health of it as you would an individual in your team.

I really think the health of the team is an under-rated lever that impacts the performance of individuals. So zooming attention in with individuals, and out to the team level, provides a good mix of connection, but also provides autonomy for team members when you recognise that's what is needed for the productive health of the individual and team.

Like # people like this

Yes. I too believe that these types of interactions are huge drivers of healthy teams, which ultimately, leads to higher performing teams. I'm with you, @Sarah Groube

And welcome to the group btw!

Like Evangeline Black likes this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Mar 29, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa thanks for the hot take. One of the realizations I have come to based on my experiences is that the amount of time that is required in programmed team interactions is directly correlated to the health of the team. Healthy teams do not need intentional interaction programmed in to their schedules. They find the time that lives between meetings and competing priorities to check in on one another and move group efforts forward. There is more serendipitous interaction that will naturally occur between the team members, which contributes to the increased health and productivity of the team.

Unhealthy teams require more scheduled time to create face to face interactions because these team members would prefer to spend their 'free' time with others or worse, avoid the members of their teams. There are no 'water cooler' moments for unhealthy teams, and the result is forced (and usually strained) interaction. I have found that when these teams occur and exist, and for whatever reason(s) cannot be disbanded, programmed and very agenda driven interaction is necessary to help the team meet their goals. By having an agenda everyone knows what to expect and can remain focused for the time reserved for the interaction. Hopefully this creates positive interactions which can slowly improve the health of the team. But there needs to be a leader that is rigid about protecting this time and not allowing small distractions or emergencies to pull them or any team members out of the interaction. 

Like # people like this

Well this is a fun musing on its own, @Andy Gladstone!

For the folks in the back, I'm going to repeat what you said: "...the amount of time that is required in programmed team interactions is directly correlated to the health of the team."

I could not agree more. Having to "program" get-to-know-you time, fun sessions, or "free swim Q&A" is definitely an indication that those things don't happen naturally.

And to this discussion post's main point, I think that healthy teams don't even realize how much they're dedicating to these kinds of activities because they're doing it so much. For those healthy teams, I do want to emphasize the importance of those interactions and say that those hours count towards productive workweeks.

Like Evangeline Black likes this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Mar 31, 2022

Yes, Yes, Yes! I preach a 50/60 concept to my teams. 50 minutes of work in an hour with 10 minutes of productive non-work time - coffee chats, catching up with teammates, going for a walk, etc. is equal to an hour of work. I used to preach 55/60 - but with the amount of automation we now have and the growing importance of how this filler time is used - I've expanded it to 50/60. 

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@Andy Gladstone - Congrats! You're the winner of this week's March Musing series. I'll email you for shipping info :)

Like Andy Gladstone likes this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Apr 07, 2022

Wow! Totally honored - thank you so much!

Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 30, 2022

Oh wow, that's very inspirational.

As a Support Engineer, we usually wake up, have a standup meeting to catch up with the status quo of everyone, and right get down into the queue(s) to tackle the demands from our customers, and that's it, the day is over.

I just recognised that I never really pay attention on bonding or even just chatting with my teammates throughout the day. Most of my time are spent on the works or levelling up my product knowledge/skills. That is not a very healthy cycle to bring out the most of team morale.

Now I realise that spending time on chatting or having a cup of coffee with my teammate is not just killing the time, it should be part of the routines that could end up with something positive and benefit to people more than myself.

Thanks a lot for sharing this @Christine P_ Dela Rosa !

Like # people like this

Absolutely. Yeah, I think that the coffee chats, per your example @Darryl Lee, are a means to better connections which ultimately lead to better teamwork. And yeah, they aren't "wastes of time;" they are integral parts to your routine :)

Like # people like this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 31, 2022

100% to that

Like # people like this

While I am building solo at the moment, I have come to consider my fellows and target audience to be team mates. Communication is the key to everything in life, and being frank and honest is a great way to overcome obstacles and resolve issues. I prioritise communication and being on the same page as 60-70% of my current work, because if we're not on the same page I'm worried that we may not even be reading the same book. I would hate to launch only to find that I have no audience. 

I think this take can actually apply to every area of life. It's the same philosophy of job hunting is networking - which is reaching, communicating, checking which page and book you're 'reading' and seeing if you can help each other move forward. If a team, or a mission, or a relationship isn't moving forward it's either stagnating or faltering. The best way to know if you are being productive in your days is to track what you are doing that moves you forward in your goal.

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Wow, 60-70%. And as a solo builder, @Ara Orden?

That's believable given this post's topic, and assuming it's true, it's also evidence for how much we should invest in training, evaluating processes, and all-things team communication. 


PS - welcome to the group!

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Great tie-in, yeah!

Like nina_schmidt likes this
Karthick S Atlassian Team Mar 31, 2022

Thanks for sharing this @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

Like Evangeline Black likes this

I agree with all the above. I found organising my schedule to include all tasks a challenge (being a mediator personality doesn't help, lol), prioritising jobs over the interaction but now I realised it's as important as the work itself, if that makes sense. Thank you @Christine P_ Dela Rosa for another great musing. I take a lot from it. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

It can definitely be a challenge to factor in team time, especially when there's heads-down work to do on your own. It is so beneficial, though.

Like # people like this

Thanks for sharing this article . @Christine P_ Dela Rosa . Yes, its really important to be mindful about where we spend time. So to spend some quality time with all team memebers we have a dedicated 20min/day, where we just interact with each other and do some fun activity. No one should be discussing work in this 20min. Its just us as humans, friends and colleagues. It works as stress buster for the entire team. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Yes! Time developing relationships is valuable and I love that your team is so intentional about that.

Deepak Rai Community Leader Nov 07, 2022

Thanks for sharing.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

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