Mid-century work teams will be temporary in addition to virtual. The growth of contract work and the specialization of organizations will spell the end for stable groups that work together a long time. Teamwork will still be valued and rewarded, but the teams themselves will form and disband with lightning speed. Industry analyst firm Gartner calls this phenomenon swarming.
Pros and Cons of Life in the Swarm
A swarm is a group that comes together for a short-term project and quickly disbands when the project has been completed. It’s characterized by a flurry of collective activity from everyone available and able to pitch in. Employees in a swarm will barely know each other, so in order to gain influence with colleagues and partners, professionals will have to leverage larger networks rather than smaller ones.
In the near future, reporting relationships will get confusing since work will cross department and company lines and people will have an ever-changing array of formal and informal managers. Employees will have to be more spontaneous, proactively creating new designs and models to deal with the issues at hand.
Working on a new team every month (or week) is likely to be challenging and exciting, and you won’t ever be bored. But because your path is your own and everyone you work with is going in a slightly different direction, you are likely to struggle finding suitable long-term mentors and solidifying work relationships. Networking will be more complex as you attempt to manage an army of weaker ties, calling on people you may have interacted with only once or twice about a project or opportunity.
You won’t always understand the culture or perspective your new colleagues are coming from. Unfortunately, considering the speed and intensity of swarms, you usually won’t have time for icebreakers. You’ll simply have to accelerate your efforts to get to know swarm-mates, and accept that a common work goal may be all that binds you at times.
For more on life in the swarm, check out Intuit's Fast Track blog.