The Art of Asynchronous Communication: Why it matters for remote work

In a remote-first age, it is difficult to have all your teams online at the same time. Asynchronous communication helps in collaboration and productivity.

The Art of Asynchronous Communication: Why it matters for remote work

It’s now become extremely common for teammates working remotely to communicate and collaborate across different geographies and time zones. This could mean different cities, states, and even countries.

As more and more businesses are pivoting to hybrid and fully remote workforces, what is a clearly emerging fact is that having everyone work at the same time may not be the most suitable way to get work done. Especially in a remote-first age, it is difficult to have all your teams online together at the same time.

This is where asynchronous communication comes into play. It allows for a different method of collaboration that increases productivity.

What is Asynchronous Communication?

Simply put, asynchronous communication does not happen in real-time, but happens in its own time. This means responses can occur intermittently and there is no expectation of an immediate reply.

Remote teams and employees that use asynchronous communication respond to their emails, chats, and messages depending on when they can and are available. There is a time gap between receiving a message and responding to it. This means the teammates do not have to online at the same time and can work from different locations easily.

The benefits of Asynchronous Communication

For virtual teams, especially the ones that work in different time zones, asynchronous communication has distinct advantages for remote teams and remote employees.

There is true flexibility of remote work

A big reason people are enjoying remote work is that they can set their own schedules and work in a manner that is suitable to them. With remote work becoming the norm, the focus has shifted to getting work done than when you do the work.

Flexible schedules allow people to work in peace and without the worry of missing out on anything. This flexibility is only possible with asynchronous communication.

If you have to be available and are on-call in fixed hours, you cannot move around your work tasks and personal tasks. You are stuck to the desk in those hours and it is like being back in the office again.

People have time to process and respond

Without the need or expectation of an immediate response to a piece of communication, the person receiving the communication has time to process the information. There is enough time and room to consider the information and understand what it says.

This minimizes distractions and disruptions and allows the possibility of crafting a response when their schedule allows for it. Fewer interruptions mean there is no loss in focus and productivity.

More control of their schedules

Asynchronous communication allows teams and employees to respond to any message at a particular time that works for them. This avoids having to stop their work and respond to something every time a new message comes in, which is highly disruptive.

When we set aside a specific time in our schedule for responding to different messages, the workday is more organized.

Gives everyone a voice

It is quite common for the more extroverted or senior members of the team to dominate a discussion or meeting. This reduces the opportunity for other people to express their ideas, thoughts, and opinions. There will always be someone who hasn’t contributed to the discussion simply because they couldn’t get a word in.

By changing the mode of communication to asynchronous, everyone has a chance to get heard, loud and clear. The pressure to respond immediately is taken off and people can express their thoughts properly.

It also creates a linear chain of communication that is easier to navigate and come back to when needed.

Communication is automatically documented

Asynchronous communication has to happen over a software tool, so by default, there is a trail of communication. It creates transparency and everything that has been discussed is easily visible for everyone to see. As the work and decisions made are automatically cataloged and archived, it provides a detailed record of information and communication flow.

This takes away the need to manually create documentation specifically for a discussion, thereby saving time and effort. Productivity is improved as one no longer needs to spend any time preparing such documentation for every discussion and communication.

Responses are far more thought out

When responding to something instantly, it can be that we haven’t fully formulated the thought before sharing it with everyone else. This happens quite commonly in meetings and in-person discussions.

When we have a little bit more time to think about it and collect our thoughts, the responses are much more nuanced and to the point.

Thoughtful replies, feedback, or input always make for better communication in the workplace.

Final note

Asynchronous communication allows remote employees to better prioritize the communication they receive or initiate. This allows for communication that does need an immediate response to be attended to more effectively, as the prioritization is clear. Anything that doesn’t need an instant reply can be dealt with later.

While not new, asynchronous communication has become quite a valuable tool in today’s remote work environment. Understanding how asynchronous communication works helps us make better use of it, and has a direct impact on the productivity of remote employees.