Paul has worked in a variety of roles over the years, both as part of a team, and solo. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
Working individually has become increasingly common in recent years, thanks to a large degree to many people now working remotely from home, enabled by advances in computer and communications technology.
While my experience is that there are many positives to working alone, this article lists and looks at ten of the main downsides.
10 Negatives of Working Alone
Here are 10 downsides of working individually.
- Motivation issues
- Time management
- Less creativity
- No cover for illness and vacations
- Stress and isolation
- No help at hand
- Total responsibility
- No skill sharing
I explore each of the disadvantages of solo working below.
1. Motivation Issues
It can be difficult to motivate oneself without the energy that is generated by a busy and lively workplace, and many people can find it hard to motivate themselves without either supervision or peer pressure from coworkers. There is a lack of active encouragement, as well as the threat of being admonished.
Working individually requires a great deal of psychological self-discipline, as well as expertise, and it can be easy to slip into periods of low productivity, if you're not careful.
2. Time Management
Prioritizing and organizing one's time schedule with regard to work is a particular skill. There are all sorts of pressures, both work-based and from one's private life that can conflict. The boundaries between work and non-work time can become very blurred, especially if working from home. It can be easy to let non-work chores, such as childcare, or household chores, interfere with work duties.
At the other extreme, one can find oneself in work mode all the time, neglecting to take breaks and time off, and over-working.
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3. Less Creativity
Without other people to feed you ideas or bounce ideas off, creativity can suffer. It can be easy to get into a rut, become bogged down with old or out-of-date plans and become tired and predictable. Some people are great workers, but rely on others to provide the ideas that fuel creative projects, these people can struggle with working alone in jobs where innovation and imagination are required.
4. No Cover for Illness and Vacations
When you work as part of a team and you are ill or wish to go on vacation, somebody else can usually cover for you, but when you work alone these situations can be problematic. Some people end up having to try and continue working even when sick, which can exasperate health problems. Others may have to opt for working vacations, or skip them altogether, leading to stress and burnout.
Individual working can be boring. There is little or no stimulation from others and certainly nobody around you to interact with in person. There's just you and it's easy to get tired of your own company. Whatever the downsides of working as a team, other people can make things more interesting and cause the day to pass by more quickly.
Working alone everyday can lead to a creeping degree of personal sloppiness, if you're not careful. This can be especially true if you're working from home. When we work with others, we eat breakfast, shower, and dress appropriately before traveling to the workplace. Individual working can mean stumbling out of bed and eating a slice of toast in front of a computer screen, still dressed in bedclothes.
7. Stress and Isolation
Human beings are generally a social species and many people rely on being part of a team for their emotional wellbeing. For these people, working solo can lead to a sense of isolation. They are unable to dissipate any stress suffered through sharing it with others, or making a joke with coworkers about a strenuous encounter or situation. There is no banter between coworkers, no mutual emotional support, no socially interactive fun.
8. No Help at Hand
When you work as part of a team and run into technical difficulties, you can often ask somebody nearby to help you. Before long, the matter is fixed in an efficient and friendly fashion. Working alone often means that you have to struggle through those problems alone, seeking solutions from the internet, asking remote coworkers for aid, or finding paid professionals to help you. In short, it can create practical, emotional, and financial challenges.
9. Total Responsibility
Working solo usually means taking full responsibility. That's fine when things go well, but not so good when things go badly. Without a team to accept group responsibility, the working individual faces increased stress and bears all the consequences of any mistakes and misadventures. As well as creating additional emotional strain, sole responsibility can also make people less inclined to take necessary risks, due to fear of failure.
10. No Skill Sharing
As far as skills go, everybody has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. When people work as part of a group, skills can be shared so that everybody is contributing their best. Working alone can mean that your weaknesses are exposed and failures are experienced.
For instance, you may be great at the creative side of a job, but your lack the organizational skills undermines your overall ability to succeed on your won. Alternatively, you may be great at dealing with customers, but not so good at financial oversight, leading to money troubles.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Paul Goodman