What Are The Disadvantages Of Collaboration? (+5 Barriers) | OptimistMinds (2023)

In this blogpost, we shall be describing the various disadvantages of collaboration. We will also be looking at the common barriers to collaboration and what organizations can do to overcome those very barriers. While everyone talks about the advantages of collaboration, very few speak about the challenges organizations face while implementing it.

What are the disadvantages of collaboration?

The main disadvantages of collaboration are:

There may be too many leaders

When individuals work closely together in a group, there is a chance that too many leaders may arise in the team. In addition to the formally assigned leader, other informal leaders may rise up and try to take over. When there are too many leaders in the group, the team eventually disintegrates.

The team may not have the right members

For collaboration to be right, the team needs to comprise the right members. The ideal team member is someone who is a team player and is ready to put the needs of the team above their own. They are also committed to working closely with other team members and sharing information and resources the group might require.

Groupthink can easily occur

While collaboration breeds creativity, leading to the generation of new ideas and suggestions, it may also deplete it. This happens commonly when the group size is too small or the group does not collaborate with those outside the circle. Here, the same old ideas are recycled repeatedly, leading to frequent groupthink in the team.

Collaboration can be expensive

Collaboration is of course not free. It requires a great investment of time and effort and obviously money. However, many organizations cannot afford collaboration tools and also cannot afford to spend time on collaborative practices and strategies. This can be seen in small businesses who try to implement collaboration but then back out due to the high costs.

There may be frequent conflicts

There also may be frequent conflicts due to closely working together. It becomes highly destructive when there is no quick conflict resolution, and thus the problem deepens leading to bigger disruptions. Conflicts can also arise frequently if the leadership is ineffective in making the conflicts into constructive situations.

Data connections may be required all the time

Since many organizations depend on the use of digital collaboration tools, they might face problems when there is no stable data connection. This can also happen in remote working, when the individual team members do not have access to data. Online collaboration tools might also require strong and stable data connections, which might not always be feasible.

Outcomes may take time

Organizations implement collaboration in order to enjoy its fruits. Still, the outcomes or profits of collaboration may take a lot of time to show themselves. This is because collaboration is a complex process requiring many factors to be in place. This might deter companies who are looking for immediate results or simply cannot afford to wait that long.

Personal connections may reduce

This has become highly common with the popularity of remote working. Since the team members now use online collaboration tools, they do not interact with each other physically. This greatly weakens the collaboration process. It can also occur due to many team members or employees opting for asynchronous communication in the organization.

There may be a loss of autonomy

While collaboration requires healthy autonomy to be given to the team, it may take away the individual autonomy some team members may have previously enjoyed. This can lead to demotivation and frustration in these team members. Furthermore, it leads to team members waiting around for approvals and permissions, wasting precious company time.

Too much time can be wasted

Collaboration requires the team members to spend a lot of time with each other. Many activities might be extra and cannot be integrated with the ongoing tasks. In this manner, collaboration can lead to a waste of company time. Also, collaboration requires the inputs from many sources, and this also can discourage companies from implementing it as it consumes a lot of time.

Risk of collaboration overload

Collaboration overload happens when too many collaborative tools are used in the workplace. It can also happen when the incorrect collaboration tools are being implemented. This leads to collaboration overload, where the team members are pestered by continuous need for collaboration and constant notifications popping on their screens.

Collaboration is not for everybody

While working together is great for many, it is not ideal for lots of people. Some individuals might prefer to work alone or work better alone. This is especially in regards to shy or introverted employees. Pushing these individuals to collaborate can lead to negative effects on their morale and might demotivate them.

There might be social loafing

There is always a risk of social loafing when it comes to group work or teamwork. This happens when an individual does not pull their weight in the team. And thus, it adds to the workload of other team members, thus wasting time. Social loafing can also bring down the collaborative spirit of the group and discourage other members from collaborating.

Security risks

Security risks can happen when there are a lot of team members who have easy access to confidential or sensitive information. This can happen especially when the collaboration tool does not have features to customize the access. Alternatively, security risks can also occur when team members are not educated or trained to use the collaborative tool properly.

Not all organizational structures support collaboration

All organizational structures cannot support collaboration. In fact, implementing collaboration in these organizations can lead to negative effects instead. A good example is the traditional organizational structure. Traditional organizational structures cannot be collaborative due to the large number of levels with strong borders between them.

Common barriers to collaboration

The common barriers to collaboration are listed below:

  • The different types of personalities in team members which might be conflicting with each other
  • Poor commitment to the process of collaboration due to a lack of awareness
  • Lack of information about the resources to collaborate, the organizational policies regarding it and also the strategy to follow
  • Organizational culture preventing collaboration between team members
  • Lack of clarity about individual roles and responsibilities

How to overcome these barriers?

In order to overcome these barriers and bring about better collaboration between team members, organizations can use the following strategies:

Building healthy relationships between team members

For team members to collaborate closely with each other, they need to have healthy relationships. These relationships however, need to be created by time and effort. Many leaders use team-building activities, off-site visits and creative exercises to bring the team together and improve the personal interactions between members.

Understanding and accepting diversity

While diverse teams are a common sight these days, diversity itself can be challenging for some to understand and work with. However, it is essential for team members to be able to work with diverse individuals. To encourage this, leaders can encourage team members to educate themselves about diversities and sensitive topics, thus creating a supportive environment.

Creating a proper collaboration strategy

Just like everything else in an organization, collaboration also requires a proper strategy. With the right strategy in place, team members are aware of what they are supposed to do and thus stay on the same page. A proper collaboration strategy should guide the team in what they are collaborating for, what policies are in place and also what tool will be used for the process.

Focusing on the bigger picture

To promote collaborative practices in the team, they should focus on the bigger picture. Many teams cease from collaborating after a certain point of time as they lose sight of the larger purpose. Leaders and managers need to review goals and mission statements often for this very purpose.

Creating contracts or agreements in the team

Many leaders use the technique of written agreements between the team members in order to foster collaboration. This agreement or contract is a formal bond, uniting the team members for the term of the project. It may include the goal, the different members involved in the project, the collaboration strategy and any other factor the team sees fit.


In this blogpost, we have described the various disadvantages of collaboration. We have also looked at the common barriers to collaboration and what organizations can do to overcome those very barriers.

Frequently asked questions: (What are the disadvantages of collaboration?)

What are the disadvantages of online collaboration?

While online collaboration is highly advantageous, it still has many negative factors that make it disadvantageous for organizations. Some of these disadvantages are:

There may be a waste of time

Online collaboration can follow synchronous as well as asynchronous methods. When team members use asynchronous collaboration, the responses are not instant and this can lead to delayed responses. Thus, employees might find online collaboration taking up too much of their schedule, giving them less time to do actual work.

Team members may feel isolated

Team members who are working remotely may feel isolated and disconnected as they cannot physically see or interact with each other. Organizations which have both physical as well as remote teams can have the remote teams feeling left out of the organizational events and other work processes. In this manner, the team members may lose their motivation to work.

Employee burnouts can happen

Online collaboration requires the use of digital collaboration tools. However, these tools can lead to constant notifications on the employee’s device. It can also make the employees feel pressured to collaborate more and take part in all the collaborative tasks. This can highly stress team members out, leading to exhaustion and burnout.

Project management issues

Since online collaboration is fairly new for many organizations, team members may still take time to learn the ropes. Many of them who are used to the traditional pen and paper type of collaboration might not be happy about the new software and thus, may not use it. This can be especially hard with team members who are not tech savvy or slow-learners.

What are the disadvantages of collaboration tools?

Collaboration tools can have two main disadvantages or challenges, and they are:

  • These tools can be very expensive for organizations, especially small businesses which might find them burning a hole in their pockets.
  • Team members can also take a lot of time to learn to use these tools in the right manner. They might even require additional training and informational resources to help them learn.
  • These tools require a strong and stable data connection for them to run. This might not be feasible in remote areas.

If you like this blogpost, please leave your questions and comments in the space below.











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