Asynchronous Communication

Discover a more thoughtful and organized way to communicate and keep your team on the same page.

In 2020, many teams found themselves having to transition to remote work. With no time to develop proper remote collaboration workflows, most managers attempted to recreate their existing communication processes online. Meetings turned into Zoom calls, shoulder taps into Slack messages. The employees were left to deal with an avalanche of notifications and status update meetings, with very little time left to focus and do meaningful work.

And yet long-time remote teams – including Zapier, Doist, Buffer, and more – claim their teams have seen a massive productivity boost since going office-less.

Their secret? Asynchronous communication. Let's dive deeper into what asynchronous communication is, how it differs from synchronous communication, and what you can do to build a more asynchronous workplace.

What is asynchronous communication?

Simply put, asynchronous communication is any type of communication where a message is sent without the expectation of an immediate reply. Such communication doesn't happen in real time and there is always a certain time lag before the recipient takes in the information and gives his feedback.

It may sound like the less efficient way to communicate. After all, we have to wait after every message we send – surely it would be faster to hash it out in a meeting or a Zoom call?

But in practice, that's not always the case.

Synchronous vs asynchronous communication

In contrast to asynchronous communication, synchronous communication is when you send a message and the recipient responds immediately. In-person communication, like meetings, are the most common examples of synchronous communication.

Synchronous communication examples:

Synchronous communication example

Synchronous Zoom meeting

Modern online team communication software has made synchronous communication incredibly easy. With Slack and Zoom, every one of your colleagues is only a digital shoulder tap away, even if you are a distributed team. It's also the type of communication that comes naturally to us – which is why many teams default to it.

Asynchronous communication examples:

Asynchronous communication example

Asynchronous knowledge sharing in Nuclino

Asynchronous communication, on the other hand, is often reserved for the less important or urgent matters. In the eyes of many managers, if it's a worthwhile project, it should warrant a kick-off meeting and regular synchronous status updates. As a result, an average employee spends 12 hours per week in meetings and sends 200 Slack messages per day.

And while a constant flow of communication may seem like a good thing, it can wreak havoc on our productivity. Synchronous communication leads to several core problems:

Asynchronous communication may seem like the slower way to get your message across. But it also tends to be of higher quality, which saves time in the long run:

Asynchronous communication best practices

Effective team communication is about saying the right thing at the right time. The experience of many successful remote companies shows that this can be achieved by following several best practices:

Asynchronous meeting

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