With the rise of remote and hybrid work, the absence of face-to-face real-time communication is becoming more prevalent in workspaces worldwide. Technologies today now make it simple and convenient for employees to work from home without concern of missing out on essential office interactions – partly through asynchronous communication channels that do not require everyone’s presence at the same time.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication occurs when two (or more) people communicate without having to be “present” at the same time. It is any communication in which one person delivers the information, and the recipients can process and respond at a convenient time. Simply put, asynchronous communication is communication that does not take place in real time.
Pros and Cons of Asynchronous Communication
This form of communication has its advantages as well as a few pitfalls.
- Improves culture by negating presenteeism
- Supports work for distributed teams
- Does not require commuting
- Accommodates diverse productivity patterns and preferences
- Drives inclusivity and is useful for employees in remote regions
- May negatively influence work-life balance
- Can cause delays in complex decision making
- May lead to errors in timebound tasks
- Does not enable any gains from non-verbal communication like facial expressions
- May offer an unfair advantage to native language speakers/writers
Asynchronous Communication Best Practices to Follow
With the rise of asynchronous communication tools, it is essential to learn how to use them effectively. Here are a few best practices to follow:
Organizations should train their employees to use the various asynchronous communication tools available. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows how to use the tools effectively.
Make a distinction between what is urgent and what is not
It is important to distinguish between what is urgent and what’s not when using asynchronous communication channels. Not everything needs to be answered immediately, but some things may require a more timely response. Users can accomplish this by setting up different Teams or Slack channels for different types of communication. For example, you could have a channel for immediate questions and another channel for less urgent queries.
When communicating asynchronously, it is important to set firm deadlines setting the maximum limit for a delayed response. This will ensure that tasks are completed promptly and that everyone is on the same page even when they are not present at the same time.
It is essential to be clear and concise when communicating asynchronously, a soft skill that employers should train on employees. This will ensure that your message is understood and that there is no confusion.
Create/revise troubleshooting procedures
When communicating asynchronously, it’s necessary to have troubleshooting procedures in place if something goes wrong, such as lost data or a failure to connect to the network. Revising the troubleshooting procedure will ensure that you can quickly and efficiently resolve any issues.
Employers will need to figure out how to give suitable notes and comments to avoid back-and-forth communication and missed deadlines. Messages should contain detailed explanations so that no element is “lost in translation,” tools like digital whiteboards and shared note-taking apps can help.
Tools for Asynchronous Communication in 2022
While workers can use most communication systems asynchronously, that is, without immediate responses, some are purpose-built for asynchronous usage.
YAC (Yelling Across Cubicles)
YAC is a great asynchronous communication tool for those who work in cubicles or open-plan offices. It allows you to send messages to your colleagues without shouting across the room. It took a popular idea among the younger generation (casual voice notes) and applied it to a professional setting.
Twist is another excellent tool for asynchronous communication. It’s perfect for remote teams who need to stay in touch and collaborate on projects. Twist organizes the user’s inbox into searchable threaded discussions that allow users to catch up at their leisure, so they won’t have to waste time sifting through meaningless talk to uncover essential information. It also provides control over all alerts, allowing users to get them how, when, and where they want them. Twist can also arrange discussions on projects, subjects, or departments by creating channels (groups).
Tettra is a knowledge management tool that helps remote teams store and share institutional knowledge. It is perfect for onboarding new team members, as they can quickly find answers to common questions. Tettra also has a search function that lets users find the answer to specific questions. It enables organizations to create an internal knowledge base in which they may record all workflows, organizational regulations, and communications in an accessible and editable format. It can also be used to host an internal company blog where team leaders can submit helpful content for the rest of the team. Tettra integrates with other popular programs like Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, and Slack.
Spike is an email client that helps you manage your inbox and get more done. It is great for asynchronous communication because it has a built-in chat function that lets you have conversations with teammates without leaving your inbox. Spike also offers features like snoozing, scheduling, and read receipts that make it easy to keep track of meaningful discussions and improve the efficiency of asynchronous communication.
Further, collaboration solutions like Teams, Zoom, Slack, Google Workspace, etc., have synchronous and asynchronous features.
The Bottom Line
Asynchronous communication is becoming more popular as organizations adopt virtual work across multiple locations and time zones. It can boost productivity and employee morale by removing the need for presentism and can be used in various business verticals – from customer service to human resources and software development. It is essential to learn how to use it effectively so that your team can take advantage of its many benefits.