Managing a remote or hybrid team often comes with unique challenges, including a lack of team cohesiveness, less face-to-face supervision, and, perhaps most importantly, communication issues. Things get even more difficult when you’re managing employees in different time zones.
That’s where asynchronous communication comes in. It overcomes the communication challenges that come with remote work by allowing employees to respond to messages when they can. At the same time, it gives them time to focus on their most important tasks.
In this article, we’ll go over what asynchronous communication is, examples of what it looks like, and what you can do to get the most out of it in your hybrid workplace.
Asynchronous communication refers to any type of communication where information is transmitted intermittently, rather than in real time.
Unlike video calls and other types of synchronous communication, asynchronous communication methods don’t require an immediate response or reply from the recipient.
Here’s how Preston Wickersham at Remote describes the concept of asynchronous communication in one of his company articles:
Asynchronous work is a simple concept: Do as much as you can with what you have, document everything, transfer ownership of the project to the next person, then start working on something else.
Under asynchronous communication, employees don’t need to be physically present to participate in meetings, collaborate on projects, or even have simple conversations.
As a result, remote workers can work together as a team, even if they live in completely different time zones and countries. In fact, it’s possible to build an entire global, diverse workforce under asynchronous communication.
Synchronous or real-time communication, on the other hand, involves any communication that happens physically in the real world.
Common examples of synchronous communication include brainstorming sessions, face-to-face meetings, or simple water cooler conversations between employees at the office.
What’s great about asynchronous communication is that it doesn’t require real-time back-and-forth.
All employees need is a computer and the right set of asynchronous communication tools to be good to go!
For example, let’s say an employee sends an email to their coworker. The coworker can then take the time to formulate an appropriate response and reply to the email on their own schedule.
This form of communication helps create a more flexible work environment in which everyone can work at their own pace.
Asynchronous communication can take a number of different forms. Here are some examples of what it can look like in a flexible remote or hybrid workplace:
Email was an essential communication channel for companies long before hybrid and remote work exploded on the scene. It offers a secure space where employees can share information and files with each other.
Gmail is the most common form of email that teams use, but you also have other options, such as Outlook and Yahoo Mail.
A knowledge base is an online resource that includes how-to articles, frequently asked questions, and information about your company’s processes. With a knowledge base, employees have all the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
Knowledge bases are essential to have as you onboard new hires to your team. They are also practical at times when, for example, an employee has a question about a specific process, but no one on their team is available online to answer it.
When managing a remote or hybrid team, you’ll have to keep track of the tasks you’re delegating, what has been completed, and what your team needs to work on in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, using outdated methods, such as spreadsheets, to track all of this will get messy quickly, especially if you’re managing a large team. This is why you should use project management software instead; it allows you to efficiently keep track of all of your team’s tasks in one place.
Project management software ultimately gives you a clear view of the progress your team’s making toward achieving company goals, where you’re falling behind, and what obstacles are getting in the way of your progress.
Video recording allows you to record messages and send them to your teammates. It’s an effective way of communicating when you have to explain complex ideas, onboard new remote employees to your team, or just need to get a quick message across.
Hybrid and remote teams often work with cloud collaboration tools to keep all of their documents together. These tools ensure that the whole team has access to these documents at any time and can collaborate in real-time.
For example, let’s say that you manage a content marketing agency. With cloud collaboration tools, you’ll have a place to store all of your content — content that writers and editors can update at any time.
As more and more companies adopt a remote or hybrid work model, asynchronous communication will play an increasingly essential role in keeping hybrid and remote employees productive.
Here’s how asynchronous communication can optimize your remote team’s performance, keep them productive, and add more flexibility to their workday.
The modern office environment can be hectic — full of interruptions that get in the way of productivity. There can also be a lot of background noise and frequent distractions, such as employees coming to your desk to try to talk to you while you’re working, coffee machines running, and office gossip.
With so many distractions at play, it can be hard to keep your focus. In fact, 40% of office employees experience at least 10 interruptions each day.
That’s why deep work is so crucial to your employees’ productivity and work performance. It involves working on an activity with minimal distractions in your environment so you can get as many tasks done as possible in the least possible amount of time.
And this is what asynchronous communication does: it gives you more control over the interruptions that often keep you from getting tasks done.
For example, let’s say you want to focus a few hours on writing an article. You can shut off your email and the team communication platform that you use so you can do some deep work and focus on that specific task distraction-free.
If you manage a remote or hybrid team, then you might have employees who live in different time zones. And maintaining consistent communication with overseas employees can be a challenge.
For example, if you’re based in New York, you should avoid scheduling a synchronous meeting with your Europe-based coworker at 5 pm — when it’s 10 pm for them. You also can’t expect them to respond to a 7 pm message when it’s 2 am where they live.
Asynchronous communication allows you to schedule virtual meetings with your remote coworkers at a time that fits everyone’s schedule. And if someone can’t attend a meeting due to time zone differences, you can simply record the event and send it to them.
As a result, you’ll maintain clear communication with your overseas employees.
It’s sometimes impossible to respond to a coworker’s request right away because you’re focused on other tasks. And a minor distraction is all it takes to destroy your productivity.
With asynchronous communication, employees can reply to messages at their own pace and set aside time in their schedule for when they plan on responding. As a result, they have more flexibility and control over how they’d like to structure their day.
Over 55% of employees feel the need to respond to emails outside of work hours. However, an integral part of asynchronous communication is encouraging employees to “switch off” and give them breaks from their work.
Flexibility helps reduce employee stress by giving them room to breathe and assuring them that they don’t have to be on alert all the time.
And it also allows your employees to be more productive:
When you take away the expectation of an immediate response, employees who rely on a last-minute surge of activity to get a task over the line are likely to come unstuck,
…says Victor Potrel, VP of Content Distribution at TheSoul Publishing, referring to recent survey data that found 1 in 3 meetings are unnecessary.
By aligning as a team at the start of a project and having clear deliverables, you can make sure everyone knows exactly what they need to provide and when.
During asynchronous communication, the sender doesn’t typically expect a fast response from the recipient. This gives the employee time to process the information and formulate the best possible response.
If they’re responding to the message by text, the employee can edit their response to include more details they might initially have missed in the conversation.
Asynchronous communication is essential to making remote work successful. However, there are several challenges that remote teams commonly face with it. These challenges include the following.
While the fact that employees can respond in their own time is a major benefit of asynchronous communication, at the same time, it can make communication slower.
The employee might even forget to respond to the message in a worst-case scenario — creating an additional delay in communication and progress made on projects.
One aspect that many employees like about the traditional office environment is the relationships and bonding experiences they can build with their coworkers. It just doesn’t feel the same when you’re behind a computer screen.
A good solution is to host virtual team-building events to keep remote employees feeling connected with their coworkers. These activities could include online games, workshops, or even talent shows.
When you rely exclusively on technology to communicate — which is the case for asynchronous communication — you’re prone to errors and malfunctions.
Things can sometimes go wrong during communication. And if you’re not careful, people with bad intentions can hack some of the asynchronous tools you use, putting your private company information at risk.
Getting the most out of asynchronous communication requires the right set of software tools.
Here’s a list of the best tools for optimizing communication between your remote employees:
Many companies follow a hybrid work model, meaning their employees split their time between working at the office and at home.
A common problem for hybrid employees on days on which they work in the office is finding a desk at which to work. They often have to scramble to find an open space, leading to less time spent working and, ultimately, lower productivity.
OfficeRnD Hybrid is a powerful hybrid workplace management solution whose desk booking software lets your hybrid employees book desk spaces at which to work ahead of time. All they have to do is log in, look at who’s booked in each work area, which spaces are still available, and then reserve their spot.
OfficeRnD Hybrid is also completely embeddable, so you don’t have to use yet another app. It integrates very well with your favorite tools, including Slack, Google Workspace, and Microsoft Tech Stack.,
Plus, it offers a user-friendly set of collaborative features that entice employees to come to the office for the moments that matter.
ClickUp is a project management tool that organizes your team’s tasks. It helps you keep track of what your employees are currently working on and the progress they’re making.
ClickUp’s features help simplify project management for your company. For example, there’s a chat feature if you want to message your team members to coordinate and see how they’re progressing in their tasks.
The software includes different tools to help you efficiently manage your tasks. For example, teammates can add comments to their tasks if they have any questions. It’s also possible to activate email notifications to let your team members know whenever a teammate comments.
And with ClickUp’s time tracker, your teammates can monitor how much time they’re spending on each task. They can then use this information to determine how to improve their time management.
ClickUp also comes with integration with more than 1,000 workplace tools.
Trello is another tool that hybrid and remote teams can use to manage their tasks. It uses a Kanban-style card system to delegate tasks to other teammates and help everyone stay on top of their responsibilities.
Trello comes with less functionality than ClickUp. So, depending on the complexity of the projects your company completes, it might not be the right fit.
Slack is a workplace tool that you can use to manage all of your company communication in one place. It’s especially useful if you manage employees who live in different time zones and need a tool that keeps everyone in the loop.
Slack’s flexibility allows you to create channels for different topics to better organize your communication.
For example, we labeled our Slack channels so employees know what types of conversations they should have in each one
…says Thomas Griffin, CEO at OptinMonster.
We also created a FAQ page for Slack on our internal company hub that explains how we use it and where to go with questions.
Slack also has a search option that allows you to easily find other employees’ messages in previous conversations.
Slack’s file-sharing feature makes it easy to share different types of files across your channels. And if you need to have a live chat with your coworker about something, there’s a calling option called a “huddle” that allows you to quickly set up quick calls between you and other employees.
Slack offers different ways to manage your notifications. You can decide whether you want to enable notifications on your desktop, and you also have a “do not disturb” option you can use if you want to focus on deep work.
Sometimes, it’s much easier to simply record a video about a topic than write a message to a teammate.
This is especially true if you have a few complex ideas running through your mind and are having a hard time putting everything into words. Loom can help reduce the likelihood of your employees misinterpreting your message.
Loom allows you to record a video message and then send it to your teammate within a couple of minutes. You also have control over which email addresses can access your Loom video.
Your teammates can also drop comments in the video if they have questions about what you said.
Loom is also an effective tool during new employee training. You can use it to record instructional videos about company processes for new hires.
Every flexible team needs some type of knowledge base. This allows you to keep track of important information surrounding company processes in one place, which is highly important when onboarding new members to your team.
You can use Tettra to store important information about your company, such as notes from previous meetings, presentations, client information, and reporting data. With Tettra, employees can get answers to their questions when no one is available to answer them.
There are different options for organizing your wiki with Tettra. You can create a Q&A workflow with some of the most common questions that employees have, build a knowledge base on all your processes, and even answer questions with existing content on Slack.
Miro is an online workplace communication tool that consists of a digital board. Your team can make changes to your digital board and provide their thoughts instantly.
Miro is the perfect tool for companies such as SaaS teams to discuss changes you want to make on your product roadmap. It’s also helpful for remote teams that simply need an efficient tool to run their brainstorming sessions.
Miro’s key features include the ability to tag other teammates and add comments in real-time to discuss the digital board. You also get access to more than 1,000 pre-made templates you can use to customize your digital board.
GitHub is the ideal asynchronous communication tool for software companies that span different time zones. Companies can use it to manage their products’ source codes and deployment lifecycles.
Your team can use GitHub to upload code, add comments, and adjust the code so it matches what your company is trying to build. That way, you can continually make improvements until you build the product that your customers want.
Google Workspace comes with various tools to keep your flexible workplace productive, such as Gmail, Docs, Meet, and Sheets.
Everything is cloud-based, which makes it easy to update your company’s documents and ensures your team has access to your documentation, regardless of where they live.
If your team is remote, you might have workers who live overseas. In this case, you’ll need to have them sign a contractor agreement, manage payroll, and make sure that you’re compliant with each contractor’s local labor laws. Working remotely impacts taxes.
Deel is an asynchronous communication tool you can use to hire workers overseas and reduce the headaches that come with staying compliant.
The platform allows you to quickly generate contracts that are compliant with the laws in each contractor’s country of work while also making sure those contractors get paid.
Having the right set of tools goes a long way in ensuring your remote employees can communicate effectively with each other.
In addition to choosing the right tools, here are some strategies you can use to get the most out of asynchronous communication.
There are many different asynchronous tools available, and your team members can quickly get confused about how each one works — especially if they’re new to your team and aren’t too familiar with your processes yet.
Make sure to provide adequate training on each of the asynchronous tools your company uses and why they matter to each new employee. That way, your employees will know how to get the most out of your digital tools and effectively communicate with their coworkers.
According to Lokalise’s CEO Nick Ustinov, training new hires on asynchronous communication tools is an essential component of the company’s onboarding process:
During that month, new team members are trained not only in the software we use but are also given the skills to work independently. Every new recruit is given a customized onboarding plan, built in Confluence, specific to their role.
Your expectations need to be clear when it comes to managing asynchronous communication between you and your team.
Your employees shouldn’t feel pressured to reply instantly to messages. At the same time, they shouldn’t wait days before replying to messages.
This is why your asynchronous communication policy should include a set of dos and don’ts that everyone must follow. That way, expectations will be clear for all your employees.
For example, your team should define a specific time frame to respect when it comes to replying to messages, such as within 24 hours.
It also helps to understand what a collaborative communicator is.
Depending on their time zones, employees won’t always be able to respond to requests all the time.
There may also be times when it’s simply not appropriate for them to reply to work messages, such as when they’re spending time with family or on vacation.
Make sure to give your remote and hybrid employees time to unplug in their spare time so they can come back to work with a fresh, relaxed mind.
This encourages a better work-life balance and makes them feel like you’re not micro-managing their day.
Each time your team uses a new asynchronous tool for the first time, make sure to encourage them to share their feedback on the software. Also, actively listen to their communication needs and, if necessary, come up with tools that’d better support them.
“Zoom fatigue” is a term that describes the burnout employees often feel when virtual meetings are too frequent.
You can combat this issue by establishing a limit on the number of meetings employees can participate in each day. Communicate with your employees to help you determine what this limit should be.
Also, make sure to keep your online meetings short. Bethany Williams, professor at McGovern Medical, believes that virtual calls should never be longer than one hour long:
Any longer than an hour and the meeting becomes fatiguing and people disengage.
The world of work is changing, and companies must adapt. Gone are the days when long hours in the office were thought to determine productivity. With technology, employees can work with each other regardless of their time zones in a completely asynchronous manner and make progress on company goals.
Asynchronous communication is essential for successful remote team management. With the right tools and strategies in place, you can optimize asynchronous communication to help your team stay productive.
And using the right hybrid workplace management tool can immensely help with asynchronous communication.
Start for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid and see how it can improve the health of your workplace.Want to get started with desk booking software for your hybrid team?
Synchronous communication involves any communication that’s face-to-face — communication you can typically find in an office environment.
In asynchronous communication, however, employees don’t need to respond immediately. Instead, they can formulate their responses on their own time via technology such as email or messaging boards.
Asynchronous communication can take different forms in a remote environment. Examples of asynchronous communication include any communication that occurs via email, wiki, or project management software.
The benefits of communication under an asynchronous system include more flexibility, better communication, and more time for deep work.
The best practices to get the most out of asynchronous communication include providing adequate support for your team, creating a communication policy, setting clear expectations, and allowing remote employees to relax outside of work hours.
Here’s a list of the best asynchronous communication tools you can use to communicate with your team asynchronously:
The term “asynchronous” doesn’t mean online directly, but it is often used in the context of online communication or education.
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