Six Ways I Beat the Blues of Being a Team of One! » Mind Tools Blog
Six Ways I Beat the Blues of Being a Team of One!

Six Ways I Beat the Blues of Being a Team of One!

April 24, 2017

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Most organizations contain teams – encompassing anything from just a few people to possibly 30 or more! But, have you ever worked for a company where there’s a team of just one? I have. In fact, I’ve been that team of one on several occasions.

I currently work as a temporary assistant, meaning that I’m essentially left to my own devices for much of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy that way of doing things, although my workload does tend to fluctuate quite a lot.

For instance, I might be given a fun and interesting task, and complete it quickly. But it needs to be signed off, and I have to wait for the colleague overseeing that work to be free to assess my performance and explain things to me.

Or, I can find myself struggling to find things to do in between large projects, especially if my everyday tasks have become straightforward and quick to complete.

Manage Your Own Time

But let’s be clear, working by yourself as a “temp” does have a number of sizable advantages. I can think of six off the top my head.

First, and most notably, you get to manage your own time.

Second, you also have more freedom to choose what tasks you want to do first. And, third, you’re normally given quite a varied workload, so that you are doing tasks for lots of different people and teams.

Fourth, you have nobody to delegate to when you’re a team of one, and often that’s no bad thing. It saves you quite a chunk of time not having to talk someone else through the details of a project, or having to monitor their progress.

Fifth, stress levels are also easier to manage in this type of role, as you’re not making the final decision. Finally, at number six, you get to leave your work at work, and leave the building on time. Well, most days!

Isolation and a Team of One

Sometimes, though, it can be really hard to avoid isolating yourself. For example, where do you sit for lunch? That’s been a big struggle for me previously. On many occasions, I’ve found myself sitting in my car, just to avoid awkward conversations with complete strangers about what my five-year plan is, or what I think of the current manager.

And when I have stayed in the office for lunch, I’ve often ended up sitting on my own, worrying about what people might think of the lone girl in the corner. In some companies, I’ve been invited to lunch but ended up sitting in silence, afraid to make conversation with the office “cliques.”

During the first week of a job at a wedding venue, I was really excited and kept thinking I’d be super busy – wow, how wrong I was! Halfway through the day, my manager (the only other person in the office) popped out for the best part of three hours, leaving me to “get to know” the website by myself.

I found myself alone, trying to work out what my role actually was and how to do it. Looking back, I think that the owners didn’t really know what my role was. After a week, I realized that the situation wasn’t going to change and I left.

Sampling a Career

Working on a temporary basis has given me the opportunity to explore different roles and companies. It has helped me to take the time to discover the career that I’d really like to pursue.

I’ve also been able to work with many different people in many different teams, which has helped me to broaden my skill set.

Almost without realizing it, I chose to work in a team of one, and it has certainly given me more confidence and made me more organized. It’s also improved my decision making, as there’s normally nobody to turn to for an answer.

So, what’s your experience of working as a team of one? Leave a comment below. For more tips on how to make it a success, take a look at our article.


14 thoughts on “Six Ways I Beat the Blues of Being a Team of One!

  1. Rebel wrote:

    I used to work as a temp for quite a long time when I was in my early twenties. That experience learned me to cope with lots of situations, fit in very quickly, be very flexible and to learn very fast. I also learned not to be afraid to ask for help.
    Yes, the flip side is also true. It is sometimes difficult to fit in with the lunch cliques and you can sometimes feel excluded. (Although, I’ve always preferred a good book to gossiping colleagues and negative Nelly’s.)
    The last temp job I had became a permanent job because the boss just didn’t want to let me go. As it happened, the person in whose place I worked decided not to return from leave and resigned while she was away. I ended up working for that boss for a good couple of years and he was one of my best mentors ever.
    You just never know where it leads, do you?

  2. Yolande Conradie wrote:

    Great story, Rebel! I too temped when I was young. Sometimes I felt frustrated with having been involved at the start of a project and then not being able to see the end result. As you, I also learned a lot.
    Today I work from home doing more than job. I absolutely love the freedom it gives me, yet still being involved with other people at different companies and even different countries.
    There is always the danger of feeling isolated, but it’s up to me not to let that happen.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Matic wrote:

    Being a team of one is often a tedious thing, I agree! Thanks for sharing the tips. 🙂

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Glad you liked the tips Matic for when you work in a team of one! Do you have any other tips to share?

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    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

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  7. Amber wrote:

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  8. James wrote:

    I learned that to work as a temp demand from you great flexibility and an open mind. Sometimes it is hard to work without any team but the benefits worth it. You learn how to cope with specific situations, how to manage your time, and how to reduce the stress.
    Thank you a lot for this article! It’s finally clear my thoughts about this topic.

    1. Midgie Thompson wrote:

      Thanks James for sharing your thoughts. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of being a team of one and everyone is different as to what works for them!

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