The disadvantages of self-directed work teams include the challenges of organizing team members before beginning work as well as the interaction that occurs in a shared work space. While self-direction allows for more collaboration, the time that these challenges require often negates the advantages of autonomy, according to InfoWorld.
Self-directed work teams have become popular because of four paradigm shifts in the workplace: moving estimates for task difficulty from management to the team; allowing team members to select backlog assignments instead of making the project manager assign them all; giving team members a shared space for work rather than individual cubicles; and using peer pressure rather than managerial oversight to ensure completion of assignments.
While self-directed work teams have more autonomy, the time that goes into developing difficulty estimates and selecting assignments often takes more productivity from the group than the autonomy contributes to the task. The shared workspace often leads to team members chatting with one another rather than working on assignments. Finally, peer pressure often erodes the morale of the team, pitting members against one another and causing productivity to suffer, as stated in InfoWorld. While this organization of team members boosts the potential for collaboration, which has many advantages in terms of synergy and creativity, the disadvantages make this a mixed blessing.