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.
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!
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.
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.
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