People are social animals. I think it is safe to say that most people will not function properly without some form of social contact. In work, this is observable. Some people may be able/prefer to work on their own, but I would argue that they actually achieve less. I have had the opportunity to observe this phenomenon up close over the last two years. The engineering “group” of our team at work started out as me and another person doing contract work. We had one project to do, and we worked on it collaboratively. It was one of the more productive projects I’ve ever worked on. Eventually, the company liked our work and brought us on board. Our work was merged with some other contract work, so we had more projects to maintain. The other contract work was a bit lacking in terms of formal software engineering practices. We spent a lot of time getting everything up to speed, and things went ok. Eventually, the number of projects multiplied and things started getting out of control. At some point, it was decided that we assign each person to work on a different project in order to get things done quicker. I would argue that things slowed down at that point. It makes you feel like you are working alone by yourself in a dark room. If you ask other people for help, they don’t understand the context, and don’t really care about your project. The same is true when they ask you for help. A lot of times you slip into a rut where you just get stuck on something and have no motivation. With other team members, you can go to them for inspiration. When working by yourself, it takes much longer to get moving again.
So, to summarize: Always work in teams; it increases productivity and happiness.