How Does Synergy Affect the Workplace?

People working together accomplish more than each working alone.
People working together accomplish more than each working alone. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Buckminster Fuller invented the word "synergy" by combining the words synthesis and energy. It indicates a combination of assets that end up being greater than the sum of their individual parts. In the workplace, synergy is created by coworkers who combine their talents to achieve things that they couldn't achieve individually.


When a work force is able to create synergy in the workplace, cooperation between individuals begins to flow easily, and people can see clearly the advantages to everyone of working together. A synergistic dynamic involves more than a group of people in the same place at the same time doing the same thing; this is merely duplication of labor. A synergistic group combines energies in a more dynamic and innovative way, by assigning tasks to each person that are most appropriate to her skills, thereby maximizing the usefulness of each person's participation.


When a person is working on a project alone, inspiration may occur spontaneously, but she lacks the intellectual and artistic input of other people's minds. In a synergistic workplace, inspiration is more likely because each participant is presented with the diverse ideas of his cocreators. Being exposed to the methods and goals of others gives a person the opportunity to learn new things and build on them. This can be an inspiring process in which each member of a team is inspired to try new things by the other members.


Communication is a central aspect of synergy, and synergy helps to broaden and improve communication. The free exchange of ideas is essential to developing a synergistic workplace in which people's ideas and talents blend into a larger whole. When something that is qualitatively different than any individual contribution emerges from the group, this is a sign that synergy is at work. This only happens when individuals share their ideas through written, verbal or visual communication. When everyone realizes the universal benefits that come from synergy, they become more enthusiastic about contributing to the process.


Efficiency is an important aspect of the success of any workplace. Duplication of efforts costs a company money and serves no useful purpose. A synergistic workplace integrates the skills and advances of individuals to create a single drive towards a business or innovation goal. This process increases workplace efficiency, reducing duplicated labor and improving employee motivation to contribute. Even malingerers will contribute more when they are part of a dynamic team that is expecting their participation. Unlike a cubicle office culture in which individuals are lost in the bureaucracy, a synergistic workplace needs the dynamic participation of every individual.

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