Show Me the Meaning of Working Lonely: Conceptualising the Interrelation between Individual and Collaborative Work

Lansmann, S., Strahringer, L., Pullar, L. J.

Knowledge workers are increasingly working in multi-team contexts to solve complex business problems. While collaborative work is an indispensable mode of work in multi-team knowledge work, the complementary mode of individual work, i.e. working uninterrupted in solitude, is often overlooked. We aim to better understand individual work and its role within multi-team contexts. Based on a literature review of the office design and telework debates, we provide a detailed account of individual work. Taking this vantage point and putting the task structure centre stage, we conceptualise the interrelation between individual and collaborative work. Specifically, we develop the work types maturation, execution, and meta work to exemplify the bipartite interrelation by depicting their task-bound interplay and time-bound tension. Thereby, we offer a different perspective on ‘cooperative work' and equip practitioners with a vocabulary to discern the role of and articulate the needed amount for individual work.

Multi-Team Knowledge Work; Individual Work; Collaborative Work; Conceptualisation

Publication type
Research article in proceedings (conference)

Peer reviewed

Publication status
accepted / in press (not yet published)


Proceedings of the 30th European Conference on Information Systems

Timisoara, Romania