⋆｡ﾟ☁︎｡⋆｡ ﾟ☾ ﾟ｡⋆
working in a small team
I've been working in a very small team the past 2 years. We are a very isolated little subgroup in our subdepartment, 3 people in total. There is not much that intersects with the work of the others really, so it is usually just us as a fairly independent little capsule.
There are many benefits to this that I can appreciate. It is definitely easier to get a hold of the group it its entirety, be it for physical meetings or online meetings. The communication traveled quicker and there were less people to consider and inform. Consensus was reached easier and quicker on many things. The small size permitted us to avoid anything super elaborate and time consuming to get everyone on the same page. Smaller teams can be cozier and closer with each other.
However, I think that I prefer a bigger team for my next opportunity, to avoid some of the pitfalls a smaller team has that I don't appreciate.
- A team this size is very quickly decimated by PTO, illness or sudden emergencies.
- It is also quickly overwhelmed by large waves of incoming work. Our tasks work in waves, and some of them are unpredictably large in ways we cannot control.
- We barely see anyone of our team due to our home office days. Of course we could coordinate it some more, but I think everyone should choose their days freely depending on their own private demands. I usually see one or none, mostly none. In a larger team, there is a bigger chance of seeing anyone, and you'd likely see more people in who happen to have the same office days as you. Office days now can be isolating.
- Very limited number of people to bounce ideas off of, very limited amount of perspectives. Almost like a workplace echo chamber. There is barely any spectrum of thought or opinion, or it is a rather black and white one.
- You are very quickly overruled; too quickly. More people offer more things to discuss and more people to please and convince. While this can be a disadvantage too, it also adds more nuance to some discussions and decisions.
- If you have issues with one or two coworkers in a small team, that is a large chunk (or your entire team!) and most or all of the people you directly work with. That can make working super difficult until the issues are resolved or you find a way to cope (or leave). I wouldn't say it is uncommon to have 1-2 people in a space you don't get along with as well as with the others, so that can also happen in a small team if you are unlucky. Meanwhile in a large team, you have many others to converse with, get their opinions and support, and there are more people who can stand up for you and step in when the issues become too severe. They can offer a more removed perspective from the issues and ground you a bit when the difficulties with someone can color your opinions about your own skills or your workplace.
- When two of the three have an issue with each other, it is hard on the third person. They may be forced to choose a side or feel conflicted. They can be roped into having to play messenger between the parties who are fighting.
- Similarly, when the third person picks a side or gets swayed by one of the fighting parties, it is now 2 vs. 1. That makes for a very difficult workplace environment. It's much harder to avoid one person trying to control the conflict narrative in the entire group with a three person setup.
- Due to having to work fairly closely with each other due to the reduced size and lack of other people, I feel like some conflicts have less time or opportunity to cool off. While in bigger groups, you might distance yourself a bit for a week or two before returning to the conversation to resolve it and just shift your attention to other people in your group, this is hardly possible in a small team. You cannot get out of each others way that easily, and if you do, it can seem childish and passive aggressive, instead of being a very lowkey shift. This has consequences for conflict resolution.
- Joining a team as a third person can be super difficult and feel like you are the fifth wheel. Larger groups usually have a history of new employees joining the past few months or years and there are varying levels of closeness and established connections in it. It is easier to find some niche and people to connect with on your level. If you join an established duo that has been working with each other for years, you have to compete with a level of history and trust between them that you simply cannot offer and have yet to build with things you master together. Your connection to each is much weaker than the connection they have to each other, so some interactions and discussions can feel like an automatic loss. You might find that you are taken less seriously by them as a result, too. You might even find that they protect and support each other while not being as ready to protect and support you.
- Larger groups have a higher chance of offering a wider range of ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, lifestyles, political leanings and work experiences. Small teams have a very high chance of being fairly homogenous in these aspects, and that can feel isolating if you are not part of the majority in the group in regards to these aspects.
I do feel very lonely in this last aspect as a 27 year old, leftist, childfree, straight edge, vegan, lesbian woman dating someone who is trans, and with a vastly different outlook on money, owning a house, property, retirement, traveling etc. than my vastly older coworkers. They have children, are married, own a house, several cars, a garden, can retire somewhat comfortably, go on expensive vacations at least once a year, are cis, heterosexual, omnivorous, apolitical or right leaning, landlords, and so on. There is nothing we have in common aside from being white, and our work. I am automatically left out of many discussions or not asked things about my private life they ask each other or some other people in bigger work gettogethers because my life is fairly alien to them in comparison to their life, and they don't know what to say.
Not to mention that many aspects of my life are immediately classified as political or potentially inflammatory or causing conflict, or may make them feel defensive or guilty, so it is better not to talk about it. After all, I really don't want to talk about my veganism, I don't want to debate my sexuality or my girlfriend's gender, I don't want to talk about why I don't want to have children because all of these can be super touchy for everyone involved and it is not helpful to find out that your coworker may be homophobic (but I did; anyway..)
This really inhibits bonding and leaves me perpetually on the sideline. The place where I work has a very high age average and is very much populated by people who are considered the "normal, average" majority citizen, especially of their generation. It's therefore expected that the main topics and questions to be asked someone are about heterosexual marriage, one's children, pregnancy, their spouse, the next vacation, progress on house reparations and plans to improve it, and so on. Smoke breaks happen without me, obviously; gettogethers involve alcohol at most times and you are a weirdo for refusing it (last time they even put champagne into the juice glasses without warning people about it..) or barbecues; restaurants and cafés are not chosen with vegan options in mind even though they exist here. When they order pizza together, there is no pizza for me; if there is something to be celebrated, I am the one who cannot eat it or has to bring her own. My coworkers can eat in the cafeteria together, I usually have to bring my own meals because vegan dishes have been rare in our cafeteria and you are not permitted to bring your own along, so that leaves me out. Everything could be more accommodating, but if you are the minority, you are not worth considering and you are not on people's minds when they make decisions. And it's not like they don't know these things about me and have no chance to change - they know.
I hope one day I can find a workplace with a younger and more diverse demographic where I am not alone in some of these aspects of my life, or at least get the understanding and consideration I deserve; working in a bigger team for more stimulating exchange.
𓇽 ° . ༻ 𓈒 ꒪ ๋ ° .𓏲⠀ ๋࣭ ♡ ͘ ࣭⠀⸰ ⋆ ֗ ִ ᨒ .⋆ﾟ. ͘ ࣭⠀⸰ ♡ 𓂂 ◌ 𓇽 ° . ๋ 𓂂 ⠀✼ 𓇽