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When it comes to team communication, faster isn’t always better

The Default Setting

While face-to-face connections are important, make sure that zoom meetings, phone calls and other real-time communication are not the rule, but an exception.

Personal and real-time interaction is good for team building, but we need to provide flexibility to the remote team in both work hours and location, and make it okay for them to disconnect when required.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

When it comes to team communication, faster isn’t always better

When it comes to team communication, faster isn’t always better

https://qz.com/work/1853725/why-asynchronous-communication-works-for-teams/

qz.com

7

Key Ideas

Faster Isn’t Better

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 Vs Synchronous Communication

  • 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.

Communication Boom

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.

Problems With Real-Time Communication

The overhead of real-time communication leads to:

  1. An inability to focus and make any meaningful progress in work.
  2. The constant interruptions, and context-switching draining mental resources.
  3. A constant FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) due to connectivity being made a priority over productivity.
  4. More stress, high frustration and time pressure, which can lead to burnout
  5. Lower quality discussions due to lack of time to think and reflect.
  6. No offline time, which leads to a constant connection with work, disrupting the work-life balance.

Benefits Of Asynchronous Communication

  1. More control over the workday, and on how we structure our lifestyle due to flexible work hours.
  2. High-quality responses due to workers having the time to think, reflect, and provide insightful ideas.
  3. Better coordination and planning, leading to less stressful teamwork.
  4. Employees can block their hours for uninterrupted ‘Deep Work’ time.
  5. All conversations are automatically documented in email and chat.
  6. Easy to disconnect at the end of the day, leading to better work-life balance.

The Async Mindset

This requires managers to:

  1. Focus on the output rather than the number of hours worked.
  2. Trust their employees and give them space and freedom.
  3. Understand that 24/7 connectivity isn’t good for employees wellbeing.
  4. Get rid of unnecessary meetings.
  5. Encourage ‘Deep Work’ by disconnecting from communication tools periodically.
  6. Ensure communication is only within office hours.

The Default Setting

While face-to-face connections are important, make sure that zoom meetings, phone calls and other real-time communication are not the rule, but an exception.

Personal and real-time interaction is good for team building, but we need to provide flexibility to the remote team in both work hours and location, and make it okay for them to disconnect when required.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Asynchronous communication

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 ...

Real-time communication drawbacks

While real-time communication inside of a team might lead to solving faster some issues, it also has various disadvantages. 

For instance, having your colleagues come to ask you questions to which you feel pressured to answer on the spot leads to you being continuously interrupted, which results in being less productive and feeling stressed or even getting a burnout, as you try to do everything in proper time.

The asynchronous workplace

When the employees are provided with control as to when they are willing to communicate with their co-workers, there are many advantages that emerge. 

For instance, having the freedom to decide exactly how your working day should look like leads to more satisfied employees as well as to better communication within the team. Further benefits vary from feeling less stressed due to better planning to greater transparency and more efficient work.

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A Central Management Tool
A Central Management Tool

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, deadl...

Keep teammates accountable

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.

Document Everything

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.

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Team communication
  • Open and effective team communication keeps projects moving, co-workers happy, and ideas flowing.
  • Bad team communication kills company culture,  leads employees...
Effects of poor communication
  • Instead of looking for solutions, we waste time checking communication tools.
  • We don't talk about our expectations.
  • Communication bleeds into our out-of-work time, instead of leaving it at work.
Open communication

It doesn’t mean just telling people to share their thoughts, but actually doing it yourself and setting clear rules and guidelines about how to share.

It isn’t just about how you share information but also what gets shared. 

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Communication in a remote setting
Communication in a remote setting

Communication and collaboration are already complex issues, further complicated by remote working.

Team workers sitting in different time zones and work never happens at the same time. Real-...

Best practices for asynchronous communication
  • The setting of clear processes, with clear intentions and less clutter.
  • Most things aren’t urgent, and we need to work by thoughtfully communicating.
  • Making your writing refined, polite, and contextual works wonders.
  • Give all the information at once while in a remote working environment.
Real-Time Vs. Asynchronous Communication

Real-time communication, like a Video chat, works well for casual hangouts, catch-ups, celebrations, urgent situations and one-on-one meetings. Real-time communication is necessary to get things done fast, and for visibility. The lesser, timid employees are at a disadvantage in real-time communication.

Asynchronous communication is inclusive and democratic, as it provides everyone with a chance to communicate in the same way and be heard.

Assembling the Team

... that's capable of executing in a remote setup:

  • Hire doers: they will get stuff done even if they are working from a secluded island.
  • Hire people you can trust....
Software/Tools

In a remote team, you'll need the right tools to make sure everyone stays on the same page and can continue to execute without a physical person standing next to them.

You likely will need a tool in certain categories like group chat and video conferencing to make remote successful.

Processes

Good processes let you get work done in the absence of all else. They provide structure and direction for getting things done.

A few examples from Zapier:

  • Weekly Hangouts;
  • Weekly One-on-Ones;
  • Bring the team together 2 times/year somewhere cool;
  • Automate anything that can be automated.
Building Rapport Remotely

To better build rapport and counter isolation do the following:

  • smile, tilt your chin lower so you're not looking down on them, and slow down your speech during your vid...
Relying On Text The Right Way

Voice and video calls can help you feel more in touch with your team and avoid the issues of asynchronous communication like time lags or misunderstandings.

However, you'll likely spend a lot of your day communicating via text as it’s a good way to interact without interrupting their work. So you need to be able to get your point across clearly and simply, show empathy and understanding, and be efficient to avoid wasted time.

Staying Up To Date

Remote workers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of text they have to process. So finding ways to keep on top of what's going on is imperative for communicating efficiently with others.

Create archive lists and CC irrelevant emails to them, so you can save and share them without flooding non-involved people. 

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Make Time To Connect

Workers crave a sense of authentic connection with others and the best way to do that is by bringing people together in person. But it's not always a viable alternative.

One way to do that...

Communication
  • Set clear expectations and make an effort to be a good listener.
  • Set clear boundaries. Establish a preferred time for communications so you feel respected and acknowledged.
  • Get to know others. Remote workers often have purely transactional interactions. Listen to people and get to know them.
  • Update people on what you’re working on and your availability
Use Shared Experiences

A co-located office develops its own personality through inside jokes, shared experiences, and a collaborative environment. A remote team needs to develop something similar.

Creating specific Slack channels based on interests and book clubs where the company funds the books are the easiest ways to do this for remote workers.

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How Remote Work Became Possible
How Remote Work Became Possible
  • Computers and the internet have made remote work a common arrangement, and this is a recent phenomenon. PC and internet access changed the shape of work in an unimaginable way, and the techn...
Slow Adoption of Flexible Work

Today, remote and flexible work arrangements are seen as a perk.
In 2018, a survey showed that around 3 percent of Americans worked from home on a regular basis. Due to technological advancements (starting with Blackberry), employees were working from everywhere, the subway, the café, home and during the commute.

But even after we have the technology required for remote working for about fifteen odd years, we have been slow to adopt mainstream remote working. The mass-adoption needed a catalyst, and that was provided in 2020 in the form of a deadly disease.

Remote Work During The Pandemic
  • The 2020 pandemic has shown that all remote working is possible, and bosses are no longer reluctant towards it, a forced change due to the present conditions.
  • Many global giants like Google and Twitter have embraced remote work in a big way, in their bid to protect worker health and to reduce corporate liability.
  • The unpredictable nature of the pandemic and an expectation of the second wave of infections can hamper any chance to return to offices.

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The quick rise

Slack makes it possible for tens of millions of employees to have online conversations, ask questions, share information, make decisions. The platform reproduces the culture of the open-plan office...

Slack became indispensable

Investors had been wary of Slack since it went public in June 2019 because of its slowing growth, lack of profitability, and competition from Microsoft's competing product called Teams.

But as business swerved to avoid contagion, people were flocking to Slack's product to cope with disaster. Slack became a critical service, like Wi-Fi or electricity.

Work from home

Although Slack also runs on Slack, the company had a work-at-office culture. As the company closed its offices in March, the executive made a series of decisions to make its mission clearer: Slack would take care of its people first during this crisis. In turn, those employees would take care of their customers.

  • They offered to reimburse each employee up to $500 for whatever equipment they needed to do their jobs at home.
  • When the schools closed, they advised people to work when they could.
  • They encouraged their employees to log out and take care of their kids and families.
  • They offer to pay employees their full salaries.

one more idea

Defining group norms
Defining group norms

Group norms are the set of informal and formal ground rules that specify how people interact. The rules help members of the group determine how to behave. Advantages of clear g...

Intentionally create group norms

Every team has rules, but few are intentionally crafted. This could have a negative impact. For example:

  • In a team of two, it's easy to create short back-and-forth emails. As more team members join, it becomes more complex keeping everyone in the loop. Emails may include reply-alls about weekend plans and real-time decision-making, leading to unread emails and lost information.
  • A single individual dictates the rules for the group. He may inadvertently communicate late at night that can affect an entire company.
How to create healthy group norms

Setting up norms is easiest when the team is first created. It may take a special meeting at the start, but it saves time and diminish problems down the road.

Shifting group norms in an established team is possible, too. Cultivate positive behavioral expectations on high-functioning teams.

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