Asynchronous communication. Why and how to introduce it?

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Pandemic times have popularized the remote work model. Working from home involves the introduction of new forms of communication between employees, as it is not enough to approach a neighboring desk to ask a question or share comments on a project. 

Communication has moved mainly into the online sphere. This requires setting certain rules so that the transfer of information remains fluid, but at the same time does not overwhelm the employee with the number of chat messages and video conferences.  

What does asynchronous communication mean?

It is a form of communication that does not take place in real time and does not require an immediate response. An example of asynchronous communication is when an employer sends an employee an email with a question, and the answer will come when the employee finds a convenient moment to do so. The opposite is synchronous communication, which requires both parties to engage at the same time and information to flow immediately. Synchronous communication is, for example, a face-to-face conversation, a phone call, a chat message exchange or a video conference.

Benefits of asynchronous communication

An employee constantly distracted from the work at hand and inundated with questions becomes distracted and stressed. It takes time (researchers estimate that it takes up to 23 minutes to return to an interrupted task) and greater layers of concentration to return to an interrupted activity, and constant conversations with superiors can create a sense of over-control. This takes a toll on an employee’s productivity and comfort at work. 

The solution to the problem is to implement asynchronous communication, which allows time to better think about answers, review the history of the conversation and organize thoughts. Asynchronous communication requires clear phrasing of statements and exercises task planning – choices have to be made about which issues need to be addressed immediately and which can wait. This form of communication makes it possible for people who are in different time zones or who, for some reason, cannot actively participate in a team meeting, for example, because they are in a meeting with a client at the time or have limited access to the network, to work together.

Tools for asynchronous communication

Asynchronous communication dominates the virtual realm, and the same tools are used for it as for synchronous communication:

  • Email – email communication is the most classic form of asynchronous communication. An email can be answered at any time, and the course of the entire conversation is documented. 
  • Cloud with data – asynchronous communication can also be used to expand the knowledge of employees, preparing for live meetings, without having to translate all the issues during the conversation. Data (documents, presentations, scripts) is collected in the cloud, which is the basis for further work, is publicly available and uniform, thus avoiding situations where employees struggle with information chaos.
  • Instant messaging – the use of instant messaging for chatting (e.g. Slack, Teams, Messenger) does not have to involve immediately replying to messages. It’s a good idea to use activity status and share calendars to signal to co-workers whether you are available.
  • Record video messages using apps, for example, Canva, Loom or Cloudapp.

When is synchronous communication?

However, there are instances when live communication is necessary. It’s an important bonding factor for the team; it makes employees feel part of the group. In addition, in the face of a crisis, the team must respond immediately, the same if conflicts arise between employees.

main photo: Sales Solutions

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