Collaboration vs. Teamwork: What’s the Difference?

Teamwork and collaboration are two words that you can’t escape when it comes to modern work. But what exactly do they mean?

Ruum Team

February 13, 2019

3 min read


Teamwork and collaboration are two words that you can’t escape when it comes to modern business operations and practices. They’ve been sprinkled on a variety of corporate mission statements, brand social media profiles, and company websites — and yes, that includes our own.

But what exactly do they mean?

And how are they different?

Or, are they different at all?

These are the questions that have kept many a manager, letalone project managers, up at night when trying to figure out the best way to tackle projects and deadlines. They aren’t easy questions to answer, and they oftentimes have to be tweaked and tailored to fit your team, but once you hit that sweet spot, say hello to optimal productivity and efficiency! So, let’s begin, shall we?

Teamwork and Collaboration: Not Quite Birds of a Feather

To answer these questions, it’s important that we define what exactly these two buzzwords mean and how they complement one another when it comes to project management. defines teamwork as the “cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group of persons acting together as a team or in the interests of a common cause.”

Teamwork, however, goes beyond just checking a task off of your collective to-do list. If a team simply operated without any communication, support, or shared responsibilities, then they wouldn’t be much of a team at all — they’d just be a group of people with an assignment to complete. Additionally, a team is typically made of a group of people who share a similar set of skills that help them achieve their common goal.

Take IT support teams, for instance. All IT specialists on the team are well versed in customer service, troubleshooting, and maintenance upgrades (the similar skills) and use this expertise to make sure hardware and software are problem-free for employees across the office (the main goal).

Collaboration builds on this. Whereas teamwork is characterized by a group of people with similar skills working together, collaboration brings together individuals with different skills and perspectives to complete a project.

For example, if you’re rolling out a freshly redesigned version of your company website, your team may be comprised of a Growth Marketing Manager to harness SEO to make it gets seen, a Content Strategist to create compelling blogs and page copy, a UX Designer to make sure the site is easy to navigate, and a Web Developer who ensures that everything on the backend of your site runs smoothly. Each member of this team brings something different to the table, and in doing so, uplifts their colleagues and the newly relaunched website to the next level.

When thinking of teamwork and collaboration, don’t think of them as one or the other — think of teamwork being the first step to effective project management, and collaboration being the next. Teamwork will get your project into gear, but collaboration is what will really get it racing past the finish line.

If you’re ready to make seamless teamwork and collaboration a part of your racing crew, then vroom on over to Ruum. At Ruum, we’re on a mission to take teamwork, collaboration, and project management easier than driving a race car. So, we’ve built a powerful, lightweight, intuitive platform for teams of all shapes and sizes.

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