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Teams must argue to succeed, says Dropbox

Taking confrontation online can be more advantageous than face-to-face disagreements

People in a meeting

Far from being a bad thing, it's actually healthy to argue in the workplace, according to the latest research from Dropbox. 

While 34% of workers view arguments among team members as a problem, the avoidance of confrontation is holding business back, the study found. 

The research, conducted in association with The School of Life, explained two thirds of workers are uncomfortable disagreeing with others in their place of employment, despite this being advantageous to effective collaboration. 

Disagreements mean the best ideas can come to the surface, while those that are likely to be less beneficial to the business are vetoed. This essential element of teamwork can, in the long term, create a more productive environment. That's because as employees try to avoid confrontation, it has a knock-on impact on collaboration as a whole.

"Teamwork is one of the most vital assets for organisations and the research shows that in many cases, it simply isn't working," said Jennifer Brook, lead design and teams researcher at Dropbox.

"Organisations need to embrace the benefits of teamwork - and address the issues that exist - in order to harness and unleash the creativity of those working within teams. Only then can they ensure everyone is achieving what is possible and thriving within their team rather than being held back."

However, Dropbox thinks by taking this confrontation away from face-to-face environments, it can help remove the negative connotation normally associated with disagreement. 

"Studies show - and common sense confirms - that trying to generate compelling new ideas together, in the same physical space, at the same time, is pretty much always ineffective," added Brennan Jacoby, philosopher at The School of Life.

"In contrast, online collaboration where individuals contribute to projects independently and over time performs far better. The reason is that it allows us all the time to go away and reflect alone, before putting our thoughts down.

Jacoby added that creative thinking and good collaboration in groups needs team members to have the ability to reflect on their status and contribution away from others, before sharing thoughts among colleagues.

"Where collaboration is concerned, it matters not only who comes together - but how they come together," he said.

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