Asynchronous Communication: What It Is & Why You Should Care About It
There are mainly two ways to communicate within a company: synchronous and asynchronous communication. While the second type has always been widely practiced, as face-to-face meetings or any other in-person communication, the second type is just slowly being discovered.
In fact, asynchronous communication enables team members to respond to their colleagues whenever they can, without putting pressure on them that the answer should be provided immediately.
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Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.
For example, in hybrid teams, remote employees are often left in the dark. Office workers are often heard, recognized, and promoted, while remote workers are forgotten.
The single biggest mistake companies can make is to opt to be remote-friendly instead of remote-first. Companies often accept the idea that remote is the future of work without creating an inclusive culture to ensure it works for everyone.
Hybrid companies function best when the entire company is optimized for remote work. Successful hybrid teams set up processes to help their remote workers thrive alongside their office teammates.
Leadership must acknowledge the various challenges remote workers face and create solutions. Create a remote work policy that keeps remote workers and contractors from feeling like second class team members. Remote workers should feel fully connected and not missing a thing.
Back-to-back video calls, all-day team chats combined with an expectation of immediate response is taking its toll on people trying to work from home.
In the quest to create a real-time interaction of the office, we are cutting the remote workers' ability to get things done.
Asynchronous communication is when we send a message (such as emails) without expecting an immediate response. The recipient can take hours to answer it.
Synchronous (or real-time) communication is when you and the other person are engaged in a face-to-face audio or video conversation, like a video call or a phone call. The information discussed is responded immediately.
Instant messaging tools like Slack or Teams are synchronous, and in some companies, email is also used as a real-time communication tool.
Team communication has increased by 50 percent in the last 20 years. We spend an average of three hours a day working on emails. On an average, Slack users send about 200 messages in a day.
This near constant communication hampers work productivity, with video calls, one-on-one meetings, e-mail and team chat leaving little room for actual work.
Physical presence does play a large part in moving our projects forward. Managing a project remotely requires a diligent and transparent approach to keep track and maintain the various tasks, deadlines and processes.
It's important to deploy a project management tool, assigning each different task to all the team members. Have regular check-ins and status update meetings. Having a singular place for distributing information ensures that team members do not complain that they were not updated or didn’t know where the specific file was.
Creating accountability is a great way to manage the work remotely. Accountability is shifted to the teammates, who are now supposed to be responsible for their own work and decisions.
One way to build accountability in remote teams is to assign groups and let teammates hold each other responsible. Also make teammates share their work experience and any issues they face, publicly (within the team) so that it acts as a ready solution for others, reducing repeat work.
Even if the team is small, document, formalize and map each process, making it scalable and automatic.
Standard Operating Procedures, if used correctly in a remote setting, can act like a central nervous system.