Not everyone will work that way, said Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton. But for workers in the subset of the economy who want the flexibility and freedom to make their own schedules and choose who they work with, collaborating with others in remote teams can feel safer than being on your own.
According to Grant, saying “I want to be unique but I also want to belong” is part of the “universal human quest.”
Grant has been involved with teams for a while. He has written several books on the data and science behind the motivations that drive people and organizations. In 2018, she met Raphael Ouzan, an entrepreneur who was starting to realize she wanted to escape rigid business structures that would not allow many of her colleagues to choose their collaborators or projects. The two were in contact.
The gig economy was firmly established by then, but most of the opportunities in this economy involved short-term, simple tasks, be it working with Uber, DoorDash, Upwork or Fiverr.
“The system is very commoditized,” Ouzan said. “There wasn’t much for people who wanted to pursue a craft with autonomy.”
In 2020, Ouzan helped found A. Team, a members-only platform for companies and people they refer to as “product creators” or who help develop software. Ouzan believes “cloud-based teams” can quickly integrate into any company, anywhere in the world, and represent the next generation of the gig economy.
A. Team’s platform currently has 4,000 technology employees and more than 200 companies. The company announced Tuesday that it has raised $55 million in funding in a round led by Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners and Spruce Capital Partners. Additional investments came from Jay-Z’s company, Rocnation; Founders of CAA, Apollo and Fiverr; and Grant.
“Many of the greatest achievements in human history are attributed to groups of people, but at the same time, our biggest disappointments are when working as human teams,” Grant said. “I’ve predicted for years that the future of work will have more opportunities, especially for people in the knowledge and creative economies, but with a structure behind it.”
The pandemic has changed a lot in how we work, Grant said, and “a possible silver lining to COVID is that we’re being forced to be more thoughtful and more deliberate about our collaborations.”
Product manager and designer Amélie Beurrier is one of the workers Grant mentioned. He has worked for startups and larger companies like Amazon, but what he enjoys most is the freedom to work on his own while in teams with others. A little less than a year ago, she heard about A. Team from a friend and decided to apply for the platform, she. (A.Team has an application process that includes “technical interviews and algorithmic evaluation”,’ the company said in a statement, and members are “constantly evaluated” while working on projects.)
Angelo Stracquatanio, CEO of Apprentice, which develops software for life sciences, turned to Team A. when his company needed a rapid rise during the pandemic. It gave him access to “more than 20 engineers almost overnight,” he said.