Asynchronous vs synchronous communication
There are many experts who work remotely, and they have found that synchronous and asynchronous communication are both essential for successful remote teams.
Synchronous communication is great for real-time collaboration, while asynchronous communication is perfect for tasks that can be completed independently.
Synchronous communication is defined as two-way communication that happens in real-time, such as a phone call or video conference. Asynchronous communication is defined as one-way communication that does not happen in real-time, such as an email or text message.
There are pros and cons to both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication can be more effective for complex tasks or heated discussions, but it can also be more disruptive and lead to decision fatigue. Asynchronous communication can provide more time for reflection and thoughtfulness but can also lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
The best way to decide which type of communication to use for a given task is to weigh the pros and cons of each option against the specific needs of the task at hand. In general, asynchronous communications are best suited for tasks that do not require immediate feedback or discussion, while synchronous communications are better suited for tasks that require real-time collaboration or debate.
So why would you want to use asynchronous communication? Here are some advantages of working remotely that might interest you:
- You can take your time to respond to messages. There’s no need to feel pressured to reply immediately when you receive a message – you can take your time and craft a well-thought-out response.
- You can have written documentation of conversations. When communicating electronically, there’s always a record of what was said (unlike in face-to-face conversations where memories may differ). This can be helpful if you need to refer back to something that was discussed earlier on.
- You’re not tied down to one location. With asynchronous communication, you’re not tied to any location – you can work from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
- It can help reduce distractions. Since everyone is not working on the same schedule, there’s less chance for interruptions and distractions from other team members.
Asynchronous communication can help improve communication flow by allowing people to respond at their own pace, without interrupting others.
- Asynchronous communication can help reduce stress levels and improve work-life balance, allowing people to fit work around other commitments.
- Asynchronous communication can help promote creativity and collaboration, allowing people to share ideas and thoughts in their own time, without the pressure of immediate feedback or response.
- Asynchronous communication can help to save time, as it eliminates the need for back-and-forth email chains or constant checking for replies.
- Asynchronous communication can help to build stronger relationships, as it shows that you respect other people’s time and allows them to connect with you on their own terms.
Overall, asynchronous communication has several advantages that make it ideal for remote work situations. If you haven’t tried it before, consider giving it a go next time you need to communicate with someone who isn’t in the same place as you!
Sasha, a recent graduate of college, begins her first job working remotely from home. She is excited to have landed her dream job but quickly discovers that she is not as prepared for the challenges of remote work as she thought. One of the biggest challenges is learning when to use asynchronous communication, and how to use it effectively. Through trial and error (and with the help of some patient and experienced co-workers), she eventually learns when asynchronous communication is appropriate and how to make it work for her and her team.
Now Sasha is a remote working expert who loves the asynchronous communication style of working. She never has to worry about finding a quiet place to work, and can take advantage of the flexibility that working remotely provides. However, she knows that not everyone is as comfortable with this style of communication, so she makes sure to be clear and concise in her messaging. When she needs to have a synchronous conversation with her team, she uses video conferencing or chat apps to make sure everyone is on the same page.
When to use asynchronous communication
- When team members are in different time zones and need to communicate across time zones.
- When team members are working on different schedules and need to communicate outside of work hours.
- When team members need to communicate without interrupting each other’s workflows.
- When team members need to send long-form messages or messages with attachments.
- When team members want to have a written record of their conversation for future reference or transparency purposes.
Asynchronous tennis analogy
A good analogy for asynchronous communication would be a game of tennis: one player serves the ball, then the other player returns it, and so on back and forth until someone wins the point. Neither player must wait for the other to be ready before starting their turn.
Visualizing asynchronous communication
A good visual for asynchronous communication would be a message sent through a series of tubes, each representing a different party in the conversation (e.g., sender, receiver, intermediary). The message might start as an audio recording that is converted into text at one end and then back into audio at the other end, or it might start as text that is converted into audio or video somewhere along its journey.