Why Working Alone is Better

Ever heard the saying that "a camel is a horse designed by committee"?

Despite the many downside of working in a group, your boss may be insisting that you "be a team player" or put you in an office without walls.

Well, hand him this article by Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, excerpted here in The New York Times Sunday Review:

SOLITUDE is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.

But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature. [...]

The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I’m talking about. Virtually all American workers now spend time on teams and some 70 percent inhabit open-plan offices, in which no one has “a room of one’s own.” During the last decades, the average amount of space allotted to each employee shrank 300 square feet, from 500 square feet in the 1970s to 200 square feet in 2010.

Link (Image: Andy Rementer)

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This is what most people know in their hearts but companies refuse to believe, since an office without any walls is simply cheaper. Since "cheap" is not something companies like to be associated with, they use "transparency" and "open communication" and "spontaneity" as excuses.

Put together people who cannot think without talking aloud and people who cannot think when people are talking and you end up with a big mess.

I'm all for brainstorming and team work, it's just that for many the actual brain work just doesn't happen in a group.
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