Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Collaboration

Cross-team collaboration in the workplace is a critical aspect when it comes to performance and productivity on any project. It not only inspires innovative approaches to a project but also leads to quick decision making. With the growth of video conferencing systems and software, employees can now collaborate from anywhere at any time using minimal resources.

The use of such video conference software as ezTalks Cloud Meeting has really revolutionized the way businesses collaborate online. But just like any other office process out there, online collaboration comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. Determining these pros and cons can help a business to draw an action plan to overcome the challenges and hurdles that may come up along the way.

Advantages of Online Collaboration

1. Convenience in Organizing Meetings

One of the key advantages of online collaboration is that it makes it easier for people who aren't in the same location to work together. Most companies have branches and/or offices in multiple cities and countries. And to ensure those working on a given project are informed and engaged, the use of online collaboration software is important. For instance, ezTalks Cloud Meeting can allow up to 500 participants to join in a meeting and listen to the presenter at once. With such a huge meeting capacity, company employees can effectively call for a meeting and collaborate with one another, regardless of their geographical differences.

2. Easier Management of Projects

With the ability to convene a meeting at anytime from anywhere, online collaboration makes it easier to manage team projects. For instance, when introducing or analyzing a new company product, the production team may need to work with other departments like Research & Development (RD), marketing and sales. Online collaboration software provides an ideal platform for all these players to engage in meaningful discussions about the proposed product. That means the person in charge of the product department can generate a report quite seamlessly and submit it to the bosses within the set timelines.

3. Faster Completion of Projects

When different stakeholders are involved in a given project, each of them is likely to give the best input in terms of expertise. A collaborative team that recognizes its synergies can have excellent viable solutions shared quickly and decisions reached in time. Once the conclusions have been tabled, presented to the bosses and approved, the next phase will obviously be implementation. Online collaboration can particularly fuel faster completion of projects since project stakeholders can meet and interact online without experiencing time constraints and inconveniences.

4. Significant Cost Savings

If those participating in a meeting are many, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a physical space that can accommodate everyone. Online collaboration software allows businesses to host online meetings in real time with hundreds of participants interacting simultaneously. Employees can actually call for urgent meetings and discuss important project issues using the minimal resources. It doesn't really matter whether one is at home, on the road or in the office.

ezTalks Cloud Meeting provides users with innovative whiteboards and screen sharing options that make collaborative sessions even more engaging. The use of telepresence video conferencing particularly simulates the real-life meeting rooms, which makes mastering facial expressions and body language easy. With such robust online collaboration solutions, there's no need to book flights, hotel rooms or meeting spaces. Online meetings can simply be organized and disseminated instantly over a virtual meeting room. In the long run, a business utilizing online collaboration will experience improved performance and productivity while enjoying significant cost savings on communication.

Disadvantages of Online Collaboration

1. Lack of Face-To-Face Interaction

While online collaboration through video conferencing provides real-time communication between people, it lacks the aspect of face-to-face interaction. For instance, meeting participants cannot argue with one another simultaneously over the online platform because of longer lag times. That may sometimes limit the level of engagement of the employees in an online meeting. And when the quality of video stream is poor, it's difficult for meeting attendees to decipher facial expressions and body language of the presenter.

2. Possibility of Network Failure and Equipment Breakdown

Online collaboration might provide a range convenient and efficient meeting options but network failure and equipment breakdown might limit its use. Participating in online collaboration meetings through video conference also requires the use of huge data bundles, which can be limiting to some attendees. Running out of data bundles leads to disconnection from the internet, which bars attendees from participating in collaborative efforts of finding solutions to a project. Meeting interruptions due to any of these reasons may cause a cross-collaboration team to work beyond the scheduled timelines in order to complete the project. That can delay project discussions and subsequently decision making, which might have significant cost implications.

3. Language and Cultural Differences

The use of online collaboration software has made it easier for companies to bring together employees from different countries to collaborate in a given project. While that might be a good strategy to improve performance, differences in language and culture can limit the engagement of employees working in different regions. That means online collaboration cannot offer meaningful solutions in this case.

4. Incidences of Group Think

Bringing stakeholders from different departments and region to work together may undoubtedly inspire fresh perspectives on the project. However, there is always the threat of group think, where stronger personalities may take over the discussions, persuade and supplant the ideas of others. Such online collaborations might lead to the bosses believing the outcome is a group effort yet it's something that was agreed upon by a few. That might end up lowering the performance of a project as important ideas may be left out in the process.

Conclusion

While the benefits of online collaboration are many, there are potential drawbacks that come along too. That does not mean companies should avoid adopting the online collaboration software. Rather, they should seek to understand how applicable the software is to the business. The effective use of online collaborations basically depends on how the business analyses the problems and the strategies it puts in place to eradicate them.

By adopting online collaboration software, a business can take advantage of convenient hosting of meetings, swift project management and improved savings on communication. But in order to keep the system working, the business should focus on fixing the issues of quality video streaming, internet/software breakdown and language and cultural barriers. This is all any size of business needs to do.

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