Shortfalls of online collaboration and how businesses can avoid them


Online collaboration has become an indispensable tool for modern businesses and organisations, enabling teams to work together from anywhere in the world. However, despite its many benefits, online collaboration is not without its challenges.  

In this blog, we will explore the various shortfalls of online collaboration and how they can impact productivity, business communication, and teamwork. Whether it’s the difficulty in finding the right collaboration tools, the lack of face-to-face communication, or the difficulties in staying focused and productive while working remotely, online collaboration presents unique challenges that must be addressed. Understanding these challenges and learning how to overcome them is critical for teams who want to achieve their goals and work together effectively.  

In this blog, we will provide insights and practical solutions for addressing the shortfalls of online collaboration and maximising its benefits. 

1. Communication barriers  

Miscommunication or a lack of clear communication can lead to misunderstandings and errors, which can waste time and cause delays. In a virtual setting, it can be difficult to convey tone, emotion, and context, leading to confusion and misinterpretation. 

To avoid these communication barriers, businesses should establish clear communication channels and protocols. This includes regular team meetings, the use of video conferencing, and written communication platforms like email and instant messaging. It’s also important to establish clear guidelines for communicating expectations, deadlines, and priorities. 

2. Communication breakdowns  

One of the biggest challenges of online collaboration is communication breakdowns. In a virtual setting, it’s easy for messages to get lost or misinterpreted, leading to confusion and frustration. When working remotely, it’s essential to communicate effectively and clearly, and to establish clear expectations for communication. For example, setting a schedule for virtual meetings and using tools like video conferencing or instant messaging can help prevent misunderstandings. 

 3. Lack of face-to-face Interaction  

One of the biggest challenges with online collaboration is the lack of face-to-face communication. When working together online, team members are unable to read each other’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, which can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. This can be particularly challenging when working with people from different cultures or time zones, where language and cultural differences can further exacerbate communication problems. To mitigate this risk, businesses can take several steps such as

    • Incorporating video conferencing and virtual meetings into the collaboration process. 
    • Encouraging informal virtual interactions, such as virtual coffee breaks or group chats. 
    • Holding regular in-person meetings or events, if feasible, to foster personal connections and build trust among team members. 

 4. Technical issues  

Technical issues such as connectivity problems or difficulties with software and tools can hinder productivity and cause frustration among team members. These technical difficulties can also lead to delays and missed deadlines, causing stress and impacting the bottom line. 

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To avoid technical difficulties, businesses should ensure that team members have reliable technology and equipment and provide training and support to help them use it effectively. Additionally, companies should have a plan in place for resolving technical issues, including a help desk or IT support team that can quickly address any problems that arise. 

 5. Time zone differences  

Team members in different locations can have varying work schedules, leading to delays in completing tasks or a lack of response to urgent requests. This can cause confusion and frustration and can also make it difficult for team members to communicate and collaborate effectively. 

To address time zone differences, businesses should set flexible deadlines, schedule regular check-ins, and find ways to accommodate different schedules. This could include scheduling virtual team meetings at a time that works for everyone, or allowing team members to work different hours or shifts. Additionally, companies can use collaboration tools like project management software to track progress and ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

 6. Inadequate collaboration tools and software 

Inadequate collaboration tools and software can be a major challenge for online collaboration. To mitigate this risk, businesses can take several steps such as: 

    • Assessing the specific needs and requirements of the team and choosing collaboration tools that best meet those needs. 
    • Making sure that the selected tools are user-friendly and easy to use. 
    • Ensuring that the tools are accessible from any location and on any device. 
    • Evaluating the security and privacy features of the tools to ensure the protection of sensitive information. 
    • Regularly testing and updating the tools to address any issues or improve their functionality. 
  • Providing training to employees on how to effectively use the tools to maximize their potential. 
  • Integrating the tools with other existing software and systems to increase efficiency and streamline workflows. 

By taking these steps, businesses can ensure that they have the right collaboration tools and software in place to support effective online collaboration.

 7. Remote work disruptions 

Moreover, online collaboration can also impact productivity, as employees may find it difficult to focus and work efficiently when working remotely. Distractions such as email, social media, and personal tasks can easily pull their attention away from work. This can lead to a reduction in productivity, as well as a lack of motivation and job satisfaction for employees. To mitigate this risk, businesses can take several steps such as:

    • Establishing clear expectations and guidelines for remote work, including communication protocols and schedules. 
    • Providing the necessary resources and equipment for employees to effectively work remotely. 
    • Implementing flexible work arrangements to accommodate personal and family commitments. 
    • Encouraging regular check-ins and updates to keep everyone informed and on track. 

 8. Isolation and loneliness  

Working remotely can be isolating and lonely, especially for those who are used to working in an office setting. This can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health and well-being, which can ultimately affect their performance and productivity. To combat this, businesses can encourage virtual team members to maintain regular communication, and to participate in virtual social activities, such as virtual happy hours.

 9. Difficulty in trust building  

Trust Building trust is critical to the success of any team, and it’s even more challenging in a virtual setting. When working remotely, it can be difficult to build trust with your colleagues, as you miss out on the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with them.

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To build trust and foster a sense of accountability, businesses should encourage open and honest feedback, set expectations, and recognize good work. Regular check-ins and team-building activities can also help build trust among team members. Additionally, setting clear goals and metrics for success can help establish accountability and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

 10. Lack of accountability

Another issue with online collaboration is the lack of accountability. When working together online, it can be challenging to monitor progress and ensure that everyone is meeting their deadlines. This can result in work becoming delayed, or even completely falling through the cracks.

Additionally, it can be difficult to hold team members accountable when working together online, as there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions and opportunities to build trust. Businesses must foster a culture of trust and accountability by setting expectations, recognizing good work, and encouraging open and honest feedback.

11. Dependence on technology and potential for security breaches 

Dependence on technology and potential security breaches are major challenges for online collaboration. To mitigate these risks, businesses can take several steps such as:

    • Implementing strong passwords and regularly changing them 
    • Encrypting sensitive data both in storage and in transit 
    • Using secure communication protocols for online collaboration and communication 
  • Regularly updating software and security systems to address vulnerabilities 
  • Providing employee training on cyber security best practices 
  • Conducting regular security audits and risk assessments 
  • Implementing access controls to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive information 
  • Having a disaster recovery plan in place in case of a security breach 

By taking these steps, businesses can minimize the risk of security breaches and ensure the safe and secure use of technology for online collaboration.

 12. Ineffective decision making  

Making decisions can be challenging in a virtual setting, as it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page and to ensure that everyone is aligned with the goals and objectives of the team.  

To overcome this challenge, businesses can establish clear processes for decision making, and can encourage their virtual teams to communicate regularly and effectively. 

How can businesses avoid shortfalls

One of the challenges of online collaboration is information silos. Due to the rapid proliferation of online collaborative tools, employees use multiple tools to do their jobs even though the context of the communication is the same. For example, they use one tool for email, another for chat and yet another for calendar. This creates information silos and constant app-swapping. By using cloud-based tools like Clariti where all communications are in one place and related conversations automatically linked by context, employee frustrations can be reduced, and productivity increased.


Online collaboration has become an increasingly important aspect of modern business operations. However, it is not without its challenges, including dependence on technology, potential security breaches, inadequate collaboration tools, lack of face-to-face interaction, and remote work disruptions. To avoid these shortfalls, businesses must be proactive in their approach to online collaboration.

This involves implementing strong security measures, selecting appropriate collaboration tools, fostering virtual relationships, establishing clear expectations and guidelines, and providing the necessary resources and support to enable remote teams to work effectively. By taking these steps, businesses can effectively overcome the shortfalls of online collaboration and reap the benefits of this flexible and efficient mode of working.



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