Knowledge progress today needs extensive collaboration of different specialties. From one side, we are moving towards “narrowing down” research and specializing. From the other side, due to the nature of our problems and questions today, terms like multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, intra-professional, and similar ones have arisen. They stem from the idea of a “teamwork.”
Bridging different specialties together needs following the big picture while developing the individual task; to be a team member. Working in a group suggests working together to achieve mutual goals and solve an array of problems and complex issues. The benefits of collaboration allow each member to accomplish collectively beyond what they could do individually, serve more people, and grow on personal and organizational levels. Integration of different points of view can lead to better solutions, and various categories’ decisions and communication can uncover novel and coherent solutions.
Many students learn how to develop their projects individually during their education; however, when they enter the industry, they encounter several challenges and difficulties in working as a team member. How to have a holistic view toward the work while determining ways of collaboration and taking responsibility, credits of the work, speaking as a team member and as an individual are part of the challenges.
In some workplaces, this skill reveals its importance in more crucial levels, like in healthcare workplaces, where any minor neglect might lead to severe consequences. In a healthcare space, people from different disciplines such as nurses, doctors, and other staff gathered to collaborate for a vital shared goal. Any small issue that can impact the quality of this communication can directly impact patients’ lives. That is why subjects like the quality of visual contacts and how any work unit may cross the employees’ path in a hospital corridor become of high importance. Different modes of working impact the spatial qualities, like individual office units, turn into collaborative space or an enclosed space becomes a new shared open space. These concerns influence the spatial design, and thus, research like “evidence-based design” has emerged.
Like healthcare, many of the industry’s working places are changing their spaces towards this work mode. If there is a systematic education in academia for this skill, there is a high chance that medical error would decrease. Such education can be achieved by developing shared programs, improving the work culture by education, and breaking hierarchies. In a study, I read that nurses tend to wash hands better than doctors, while they cannot give suggestions easily to the doctors who are not washing hands in compliance with protocols due to the dominance of hierarchy in most workplaces.
So being part of a team requires more new qualities than the ones needed to be successful as an individual. Teamworking is the capability that leads to collaboration and helps during any crisis and disaster. Like in our time, without any of us think of being one of a whole, it would not be possible to pass through the Pandemic. Academia must study different teamwork models, member roles, and successful teamwork structures, and here again, the importance of communication and interaction reveals.
To train to work in a group, one requires to look holistically. At the end of any group project, students need to reflect on what they have done, and professors can probably include a grade component based on students’ peer evaluation. I think just as a professor encourages students to collaborate, so too must the professors. They must work together at every university level, and students need to realize what they are learning at the university will be vital to them in the lives they will lead in the future.