Advantages & Disadvantages of Collaboration in the Workplace

Collaborative efforts in the workplace can lead to innovative approaches to projects, new processes to accomplish key tasks and shared ideas on varied responsibilities. However, like any other office process, there are advantages and disadvantages of collaboration in the workplace. Understanding these pros and cons goes a long way toward addressing any conflict that may crop up as a result.

Advantage: Better Division of Labor

One of the advantages of collaborative efforts in the workplace is the way that the work is divided. When more than one person is involved in accomplishing a certain task, particularly when it is a large project, it helps for everyone to have a small portion of the responsibility to ensure things get done versus loading one or two people with too much work to accomplish the task.

Disadvantage: Too Many Faux Leaders

When you have a collaborative group, you may sometimes end up with too many people trying to lead the group, and not enough members that are willing to take a backseat and just do what it takes to get the job done. This ill will can then bleed over into other areas of the work environment, causing more tension among the rest of the staff, including those that may not even be involved in the collaborative effort.

Advantage: Greater Creative Input

When you have different people collaborating on a project, then you get a greater sense of creative input. You are able to tap into the creative combination of several employees in one group. The collection of different ideas, approaches to the project and brainstorms can spur innovative results that can in turn raise the visibility and quality of the products or services offered by your company.

Disadvantage: Conflicts in Working Styles

When you group different people together to collaborate on one project or set of responsibilities, there may be a conflict in the working styles of the individuals within the group. This is one of the negative aspects of collaboration because it can hold up progress on accomplishing the job at hand, while team members instead muddle through conflicts caused by the different ways team members approach the work.

Advantage: Increased Employee Morale

Having employees collaborate also has a positive effect on their morale. As employees work together to accomplish goals, they can celebrate their successes both individually and as a group, and this can cause them to have a more positive view of their jobs and team members. In turn, this can also build trust among co-workers as each member contributes to the team's accomplishments.

Disadvantage: Lack of Trust Among Team Members

To work effectively, employees on a team need to trust each other. Forbes notes that trust can quickly erode if a single team member doesn't pull their weight. Because the work is collaborative, an employee who misses deadlines or doesn't complete their assigned work can negatively impact the work of the entire team. This can lead to frustration and lack of trust within the other employees, reducing the effectiveness of their work and creating tension in the workplace.

While lack of trust is one of the disadvantages of collaboration, careful team management can help to prevent it. Team leaders can set clear expectations for the group as a whole, then outline specific expectations for each group member, including deadlines. Using milestones can help to keep each team member accountable and on task. With each team member accountable for their portion of the work, the team can work productively as a whole and team members can maintain a sense of trust in each other.