Would you like to incorporate new talents into your work team, but they don’t live in your country? Well, I have the solution for you. Many remote jobs have opted to use asynchronous communication as a means of dialogue between all members of the company.
Writing emails, leaving voice messages, or interacting in a discussion forum is already using asynchronous communication. In remote-jobs, employees are no longer expected to respond quickly to emails or messages, as not everyone is in the same time zone. So, here you will find everything you need to know about asynchronous communication, its tools, and so on.
- Asynchronous communication is a means of communication that does not take place in real-time, that is, the people interacting in the conversation do not need to be in the same place or time zone.
- In order to implement asynchronous communication in your organization, we will give you several tips that you can follow to get the most out of this new modality.
- Currently, there is a wide variety of platforms designed for teleworking. But don’t worry, here you will find the best asynchronous tools that you can incorporate into your company.
What you should know about Asynchronous Communication
Below you will find the most frequently asked questions from users regarding asynchronous communication. In addition, you will discover the tools that are most commonly used and also tips and advice that will be of great help when implementing this new way of communicating.
What is asynchronous communication and what are its characteristics?
Asynchronous communication is a type of communication that is not done in real-time, that is, you can interact with a person, and do your work or duty according to the schedule of the place where you are (1). For example, a person working in Spain will not follow the same schedule as a person in Ecuador.
For this, different technological tools are used, so that each employee can do their work at their own pace, with greater efficiency, productivity, and flexibility. Ideal for remote jobs or for the implementation of workers from different parts of the world. Where the transmitter and receiver do not need to be connected at the same time.
Its main features are:
- Generally, asynchronous communication is in writing (e-mail, forums, etc.), but it can also be through videos or audio.
- People do not need to be in the same place or connected at the same time.
- Messages are simple, direct, and concrete.
- Communication can take place between 2 or more people.
- Communication is less fluid, so the sender does not necessarily get a response.
Types of asynchronous communication
What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication?
The main difference between both types of communication is that, in synchronous communication, people communicate in real-time (face to face, by Zoom, calls, etc.), while in asynchronous communication, they communicate in a deferred manner (2,3).
Another point to highlight is that synchronous communication maintains a direct dialogue, having an immediate response (4). For this reason, if you are working and need to resolve an urgent question with your boss, it is better to communicate with synchronous tools.
On the other hand, asynchronous communication is considered non-invasive, because since it is not a physical conversation, the person who receives the message decides when to read and respond to it according to the place and time he/she is at (4).
Advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous communication:
- Availability at any time and place
- It is ideal for remote jobs or companies with workers from various places in the world.
- All messages are accessible, so you have more time to review the information again and again.
- Increases efficiency, motivation, and productivity.
- Gives greater autonomy and empowerment to workers.
- Flexible and less stressful, since the employee can perform tasks at their own pace.
- You can send pre-recorded messages, ensuring a better understanding of the work to be done.
- Communication can be between 2 or more people.
- It has a lower cost because you do not need a physical space to work.
- You do not need to be connected all the time, only during working hours.
- You can work from anywhere in the world.
- There is more transparency in the work and better storage of documents.
- Improves planning.
- There can be misunderstandings.
- To solve urgent matters or emergencies, asynchronous communication is not recommended, because they do not always respond quickly to the message you have sent.
- The response to messages is more delayed, so the time zones do not coincide.
- The resolution of doubts and feedback is not always immediate, so it can be a little delayed and it could take longer to complete the tasks.
- It may happen that the sender does not receive a response.
When is it appropriate for organizations to implement asynchronous communication?
It is mainly recommended for jobs that are remote or organizations that have their team distributed in different parts of the world, where the time zone does not coincide. In this situation, it can be of great help to implement asynchronous communication tools to improve productivity and efficiency.
What is asynchronous communication in online learning?
Traditional education in which the teacher and learner interact directly in the same place and time zone can also be called synchronous education. However, studies have been conducted on the implementation of asynchronous communication within education (1).
Asynchronous communication in online learning is through pre-recorded videos and educational material, which are sent in advance by the teacher so that each student learns the same, but at their own pace (5).
In order to have greater effectiveness in learning, different technological tools are added to help students learn and interact with their classmates and teacher, without the need to be in the classroom (1).
It is ideal for students who are in other countries and have a different time zone, because they will be able to access the study.
Why is asynchronous communication the future of work?
Since the pandemic, many companies have had to switch to teleworking. Therefore, nowadays there are several tools that help you to work more efficiently and organized. In the following statistics, you can see the different platforms that companies have acquired worldwide.
The incorporation of asynchronous communication has played an important role, since many companies and more if they are for remote work, prefer the use of this type of communication so that employees can be more efficient and autonomous when choosing their working hours and submitting tasks on time.
It is now easier to create deadlines for submitting work so that the person can organize his or her own time. In Spain, “more than 60% of people with a higher education were able to work remotely in 2020”, which means that the possibilities of working remotely with asynchronous tools are increasing (6).
Does asynchronous communication mean higher quality communication?
In a Cisco study, “83 percent of remote employees said that their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same, or better than when they worked face-to-face” thanks to asynchronous communication (7). In addition, the quality of their work improved by 67%, increasing productivity and timeliness in the tasks to be performed (7).
On the other hand, in a study, it was found that people who were not interrupted at the time of work, decreased the time to do the task, without lowering the quality of it. On the other hand, people who had synchronous communication, in the same way, managed to get the work done but experienced greater stress, frustration, and pressure in trying to deliver the work on time and make up for a lost time (8).
It is evident that asynchronous communication causes less stress and greater efficiency in the dialogue. In addition, there is a better work-life balance, as workers in the Cisco study said that their quality of life improved (7). This can be evidenced in the following graph, where it can be seen that a high percentage of Spaniards are happy with the teleworking modality.
Tips to master asynchronous communication
In the following section, you will find our recommendations:
- Research the available platforms: All platforms are different. A clear example can be Gmail and Slack. In the former, you mainly receive and send emails, whereas, in Slack, you can create different work groups, make video conferences, and send documents, among others. For this reason, it is important to research how each platform works, so that you know which ones are best aligned with your company’s goals and culture.
- Train your team: It is important that each employee is familiar with the platform(s) to be implemented in the company. You can create training sessions or pre-recorded videos for them to learn about it and establish times for them to do so; so that the process of configuring the tool is not delayed. It minimizes the response times of each employee and performs continuous monitoring so that there is no delay and efficiency is improved.
- Organize the platform: There are different platforms such as Slack, Miro, or Planner that require the employee to assign tasks or create boards. For this, good organization is very important, so that there is no confusion about the tasks assigned. In addition, you can restrict access to users, depending on the role and the requirements of the employee. In this way, each user will be provided with the necessary information to perform their job.
- Enable notifications: Each platform has an automatic and asynchronous notification system, so all users must have it active during working hours. This allows you to find the best times to communicate with a worker. In addition, it helps you to have a better organization and control of your time and tasks. In case your collaborators have different time zones, the tool can be configured to find the best times to respond to notifications or create a task or meeting.
Best practices for asynchronous communication
Encourage asynchronous communication in the team
Company leaders are the main example within the organization and even more so when a drastic change is generated. One of them can be the implementation of asynchronous communication as the main means of communication. It is essential for leaders to let their team know several things:
- Create an environment of trust, accountability, and transparency within the company.
- Define a time range so that the entire team knows when they can respond to an email or message on Slack or any other platform (example: 24-hour response time).
- Incorporate a person who is directly responsible, for the different groups or tasks to be performed.
- Flexibility is the key to asynchronous communication, so make it known that it is okay not to be available all the time.
- Evaluate employees by the results they have achieved, not by their working hours.
- Maintain concrete and direct communication within the company, so that there are no rambling or misunderstandings.
Asynchronous preparation work before meetings
Meetings are often unnecessary and sometimes become a waste of time. That is why it is recommended that there be asynchronous communication prior to the topic to be discussed in the meeting for two reasons:
- First, to identify if the subject of the meeting can be resolved asynchronously or if it is necessary to create a meeting.
- Second, by sharing in advance what will be discussed at the meeting, employees already have an idea of what will be discussed and come more prepared with ideas and solutions, if that is the case.
For the meeting to be clear, concise and effective, where the main doubts can be answered and the meeting can be used to the maximum, without wasting time.
Incorporation of the team and training on asynchronous communication
When a member joins the organization, it is essential to have a well-organized calendar with training or modules. This way, each member will have a better understanding of what the company is all about and it will be much easier for them to join the company.
A very good alternative is to create pre-recorded videos explaining everything the employee should know and the activities to be performed. If he/she has any doubts about these indications, he/she can contact his/her boss or the work group he/she is in. It is also essential to have a session to teach him/her which tools are used, how they are used, and which communication channels.
Transmit clear intentions and expectations
As this type of communication is not in real-time, it is necessary that the messages and the wording of each collaborator be clear and concise.
When using asynchronous video or audio tools such as Vimeo, it is important that the information conveyed is understood. Each employee should review, listen to and update each of the videos, audios, or messages before they are sent and if necessary make a modification at a later date.
Differentiate between urgency and importance
As I said before, be honest when creating meetings that are not necessary. Be clear about what is urgent and what is important. An urgent communication needs immediate responses, while an important communication can be a communiqué or a policy within the company.
- For example, in Slack, you can pin a relevant message so that everyone can access it without having to search for it. You can also mention with an @ the person to whom the message is addressed and avoid misspelling the names of collaborators.
Employees’ anxiety for a quick response is reduced. They know what to expect and can work on another project they are assigned to without wasting time.
Develop an optimized documentation process
When having several collaborators there is a large number of documents that must be managed, stored, edited, and shared in an optimal way, so each employee must have access to them wherever they are. For this, it is important that the work tools work well.
Always keep active communications on the tools to be used, their updates or changes, so that employees are aware of them.
Knowing how to differentiate between work and personal life
It is true that there are several advantages of teleworking as greater employment, less pollution and need for transportation, flexibility in working hours, and greater autonomy and quality of life, among others (9). However, it is important to achieve a balance between work and personal life. For this we have some points to consider:
- It is important to create your own work schedule or if you already have one in the company, follow it without extending the time it is.
- In general, in teleworking, it is difficult to disconnect, but you have to prioritize your mental health and well-being when setting limits.
- On several platforms, you can modify your status of available or busy has disconnected (example: Slack). Also in the email, you can set it up so that when people write to you outside of work hours, they get an automatic reply.
- Most work tools can be downloaded to the cell phone. However, it is not very beneficial because you can become dependent or addicted to the cell phone, as seen in some studies (10). It is recommended to delete or uninstall the application to avoid falling into this vice, altering the work-life balance.
In the following graph, it can be seen that many people in Latin America prefer to prioritize their health and well-being before work. Therefore, from now on, more emphasis should be placed on the balance that should exist between work and personal life.
The best tools for asynchronous communication
Tools are vital to establishing asynchronous communication, as they allow you to organize, review responses, and post important comments. They also help you increase employee flexibility and productivity. Here are the best tools for asynchronous communication:
- Gitlab: is the most complete platform, in it, you can manage and perform various tasks efficiently. You can create a streamlined workflow with project tracking. Also, you can share your progress and collaborate on different jobs. It has a pretty good information security system, allowing you to do your work anywhere, just like Notion.
- Slack notion: is a messaging platform, in which you can create different work groups and discussion channels. It is ideal for asynchronous work because you can post important messages, and share videos or documents relevant to the company. It doesn’t matter if you are in different time zones, it is the best way to work in a team.
- Gmail: it is essential to have a Gmail account to have access to all the benefits of Google drive. It allows you to send and receive emails and send communications. In addition, they help you synchronize the information in your email with your calendar, making it easier to schedule meetings or tasks. It has an automatic system, which tells you when the person is available and when not.
- Google Drive: here all your documents are stored in the cloud. Through Google docs, you can create and share spreadsheets, presentations, and documents with your colleagues. In addition, you can configure the document so that the person can edit, comment, or be a reader. For this, it is not necessary that the creator of the document is logged in. Each person can enter the document and make changes at any time.
- Samepage or Fleep: are tools for collaborative project management, as you can share files, and manage tasks and meetings. You can create several group chats to share agendas, tasks, documents, and more.
- Avaza: allows you to visualize tasks in different ways, either in the form of lists, diagrams, or dashboards. They are perfect for creating projects and assigning tasks or workflows. You can track, and modify things in the project or add improvement notes. You can also store resources for future tasks.
- Scoro: is an ideal platform for business management because it allows you to control workflow, plan activities, create projects, assign tasks, and much more.
- Asana: like the other platforms, it helps you plan and structure tasks and projects, track people’s progress in real-time, and communicate with other collaborators directly from the software. It also allows you to set deadlines and prioritize tasks. Improves employee collaboration and communication.
- Loom: allows you to make mainly videos or audios. You can record your screen and record yourself. It is ideal for hybrid or distributed work in various parts of the world because it allows you to give a better explanation, in a more graphic way, of the tasks to be performed, projects, and much more.
- Tettra: is an internal knowledge base that organizes the company’s entire database. In this way, it can be used to answer the most frequently asked questions within platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. Questions can be linked directly to pages that have the answer or messages that have already answered the question. It is a quick and easy way to clarify doubts as they arise.
- Trello: is another alternative for designing plans, organizing and assigning work, collaborating on projects, following up, and much more. Everything is done in a more visual and creative way.
Which platforms are not considered asynchronous communication?
The main platforms that are not considered part of asynchronous communication are Skype and Zoom because both of them have one-to-one contact with participants in real-time. Messages sent via Zoom are synchronous because they must be responded to at the time the video call is being made. There is no delay in responses.
Asynchronous communication has become increasingly popular. Several companies have opted to switch to asynchronous mode, increasing the productivity and efficiency of their workers. And not only at the work level, but also at the educational level.
It has great economic and environmental benefits and has increased the quality of life of workers and their autonomy. Similarly, you can be more flexible in working hours or create one that makes the most of their capabilities. Of course, this depends on the individual.
There are many prejudices that this modality is synonymous with being unproductive because it is not so. People are more efficient, they learn to optimize and differentiate when it is an opportune moment to make a videoconference, without wasting time. So, after knowing all this, would you implement asynchronous communication in your company?