Purpose – The article seeks to analyse and explore the contradictions and variations in the concepts “team” and “teamwork” and their use in the NSW, Australia, commercial cleaning industry.
Design/methodology/approach – The article utilises an ethnographic study of a large Australian cleaning firm. Data were collected using participant observation, field notes, and interviews with managers.
Findings – The study provides evidence for the limited uptake of the idealised form of teamwork in commercial cleaning and suggests that teamworking is another means of coordinating groups of workers. Furthermore, the findings support previous research into the paradox of teams without teamwork.
Originality/value – The research provides an insight into the largely neglected area of the reorganisation of work in commercial cleaning. It also provides a critique of the concept of teams and teamworking.