What are the Pros and Cons of Group Work?

Updated June 24, 2022

Workplace efforts to collaborate on a project can increase employee productivity and creativity. Group work can help accelerate job completion, help supervisors recognize their employees’ individual talents and reveal the direction for future work assignments. In some circumstances, group work can cause challenges, so it may be better for employees to work independently. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of group work, and tips for establishing effective teamwork.

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What is group work?

Group work is when two or more employees work cooperatively to complete a project. Often, individuals receive different roles within the group to provide accountability among its members. In some fields, creativity thrives when people share ideas freely and can benefit from others’ input. When assembled thoughtfully, employee groups can produce quality work with positive collaboration and encouragement.

Related: 6 Tips for Effective Teamwork

The pros of group work

There can be many advantages to working cooperatively on a project, including:

Groups can divide large projects into equal parts

A long list of steps and deadlines is best suited to a group. For example, if a team leader distributes a list of 100 tasks among five employees based on their individual skills and abilities, it could create a stronger project. 

Team members can brainstorm for solutions

When people work together to address problems or difficulties in a project, the quality of the solutions can increase due to their collaborative efforts.

There is a forum for communication

Group work gives an organized forum for discussing progress and feedback about successes or setbacks. When the group members commit to more thorough communication, they encourage each other to meet deadlines and can offer help when needed.

Employees can hold each other accountable

Having a process for employees to keep each other on task can allow a supervisor to focus on their own work. Groups can establish methods for accountability, such as shared spreadsheets or regular meetings for reporting progress.

New or younger employees can have access to mentors

If a group contains a range of experience and seniority, new or younger employees can find people to learn from and emulate. By finding a mentor, someone just starting in their career can build confidence in their skills.

Employees can recognize their own strengths and weaknesses

Group work can lead to self-reflection and self-awareness. It can help someone discover their own leadership qualities, for example, or learn valuable problem-solving or communication skills

The cons of group work

Here are some reasons to consider finding an alternative way to handle a project:

Some personalities strongly influence others

While leadership is a valuable career skill, strong personalities can make it challenging for others to contribute feedback and can affect the cohesiveness of the team.

There may be an unequal division of labor

Group work can make uneven contributions seem the same. In some scenarios, one or two team members may be responsible for most of the work and the entire team may still receive credit. This can affect a team’s unity and purpose. 

Groups could encounter scheduling conflicts

Even with technology, it can be challenging to schedule a time in which all members of the group can attend a meeting. It is important to determine whether the complications of scheduling group work are as valuable as assigning tasks to individuals. 

People may feel undervalued

Some participants may feel like their team doesn’t value their suggestions as much as others’ if their ideas aren’t used as frequently. They may participate less in the group and experience decreased creativity and passion for their work.

There may be more competition

Natural competitiveness can improve motivation, but if the competition becomes the focus of the group, the work quality may decline. If the competitiveness of a group increases to an unhealthy level, it may be better to try independent work instead. 

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Tips for effective group work

You can experience successful outcomes if you use these tips to organize groups:

Consider personalities and work styles

Try to assign people to a project who have similar working styles and work schedules. For example, two employees who work in the same office may have an easier time coordinating meetings than members of a group who work remotely. Creating a group with similarities can increase collaboration and productivity. 

Assign each person a role

A group can function smoothly when each person’s responsibilities are clear. When creating a group, make sure each team member receives a role that entails specific duties. For example, you can assign someone to be the group coordinator who would be responsible for creating a meeting schedule and ensuring that the team completes tasks on time. 

Use groups for training

New employees can benefit from the expertise and work experience of long-term members of the company. Assigning new or younger employees to groups where they will feel valued and encouraged can be a great way to train them. The company’s work environment and mission can become clearer to them through participation in collaborative work.

Group work can be effective if you use it in the right scenarios and you carefully select the team. Consider using a group for longer or more complex projects with tasks that could benefit from the expertise of multiple employees.

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