Along with the adoption of remote work—the differences and benefits of asynchronous communication and synchronous communication have become a hot topic. Many remote teams, remote managers and companies with a large numbers of remote employees have adopted some combination of the two modes of communication and collaboration.
And having more video calls isn't the answer to working effectively as a remote team. More and more teams are adopting a more asynchronous way of working and communicating. This article will explain why by providing information on the benefits of asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication is when two or more people exchange information without being ‘present’ or together in real time. Usually, participants in an asynchronous communication exchange do not expect to get a response in real time and within seconds—as you would in a real world in-person conversation.
Well known examples of asynchronous communication include text messaging, email, discussion forums and workplace chat.
Synchronous communication is when two or more people exchange information in real time with the expectation that a response from another person will happen in real-time.
Examples of synchronous communication include voice calls, video calls and in-person meetings.
Below is a quick overview of the benefits of asynchronous communication—especially as it pertains to working together as a remote team or remote employee.
Being always ‘online’ and available is definitely stressful and tiring for anyone working remotely. One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is to have freedom to work whenever you are most productive.
Asynchronous communication implies a certain social norm where you don’t have to respond ASAP all the time. For example, a colleague may use an asynchronous visual feedback tool to post a comment. He or she would expect a response from you maybe in a a few hours or days—not immediately or within seconds.
This frees you from having to be responsive all the time and have the autonomy to be self directed and work on your own terms. This freedom and autonomy has been proven in well known studies to be a huge driver for motivation.
Asynchronous communication by its nature requires sending and receiving of messages stored in the cloud by the tool. Because of this, all the conversations and discussions you have have a history that can be easily searched for and referenced later.
Whereas for synchronous communication that involve in-person or video call meetings, things need to be painstakingly documented by someone for this history to exist. As a result, your future new team members or people who missed a meeting can always get caught up easily with asynchronous communication.
We all know that the single most important tenet for great teamwork, relationships and collaboration is trust. While being in the office might put managers at ease because they see you in front of your computer—monitoring your employees will certainly lose their trust.
Asynchronous communication naturally allows for a slower and less ‘monitored’ way of working. If you don’t see a reply from a colleague on a comment you made on a document—you inherently have to trust that they will reply at some point.
Maybe they are busy with a big deadline or need to run a personal errand before getting back to you. This ‘assume good’ mentality is required to communicate well asynchronously. And if practiced by the entire team and sufficient ‘human connections’ are maintained—then a trustful team culture is likely to benefit from asynchronous communication.
One of the biggest advantages of remote work for companies is to be able to hire and work with employees who live across cities, and often times, across the world. When working with teammates who are halfway around the globe, being able to work during the same time block is quite difficult because of the difference in timezones.
If you establish asynchronous communication as the default way of working in your company, the timezone difference is no longer an issue. You just have to make sure that all the asynchronous communication that happens is clear with little room for confusion. It’s why writing and communication skills are very important for remote teams and remote teams who communicate asynchronously.
There are different types of people who are better at speaking verbally or who are better at writing and thinking carefully at a slower pace. When communication happens asynchronously, everyone on the team can join any conversation because all conversations are visible on what you use for your visual discussion, chat or collaboration tool.
This provides an even and equal playing field where more introverted teammates can speak up and share their thoughts. Unlike in-person or video call meetings, the loudest person in the room doesn’t exist the most thoughtful ideas and feedback are praised.
There are certainly more benefits of asynchronous communication as well as it’s drawbacks.
We hope this provides a basic understanding of some of the benefits of asynchronous communication for remote work!