Team Communication

Asynchronous Communication and Why It’s Essential for Distributed Teams

Handling distributed teams come with a number of challenges in terms of communication. In remote teams where team members are often located all over the world, we often rely on communicating with each other in a delayed time. In today’s working environment, it’s more common that your colleagues cannot always immediately respond to your messages, this is where asynchronous communication comes in.

Benefits of Using Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication is the process of transmitting information wherein both the receiver and sender don’t have to be available at the same time. This can be done regardless of the receiver’s availability. Having a clear understanding and structured process for this communication can help you and your distributed team in a number of ways:

1. Improve your productivity. With this communication setup, you can exchange messages no matter what timezone each of your employees is working in. With this type of communication, many businesses get to open their doors to employees from various parts of the globe, without worrying about the time difference. As long as each party is clear about their expectations in terms of communication, then this setup can be beneficial.

2. The recipient can take some time to think about his response. When an immediate response is not required we can take some time to prepare a response that is more elaborate and well thought of. It gives us a chance to truly reflect, gather interesting points of information and even do some research. 

3. Many apps support this communication method. Chat and email tools can support this form of communication. This is why asynchronous communication is very common nowadays since we can implement various communication apps on computers and phones that can let us get back to messages on a later time.

4. Less distraction. Without having the need to instantly reply to all messages that you receive, you won’t have to worry about getting distracted during meetings or important gatherings. This also allows you to focus on your work and simply read your messages once you have the time as long as you are deliberate with your boundaries and managing your time to work smarter. 

Its Disadvantages and How to Deal With It

Asynchronous communication can also bring a number of challenges to your team. But by implementing the right solutions, these issues can be avoided.

1. Procrastination, avoidance or missed information. Because this setup does not require the recipient to be present during the delivery of the message, he can choose to avoid or prolong the gap between their receipt of the message and sending their response.

 A good way to get past this issue is by implementing rules about the use of the right communication tools depending on the need or urgency of a message and response. Also, making use of a communication tool that provides the sender with a confirmation of the receipt of the message. On remote teams, a simple acknowledgement by emoji can be an effective way to recognise a message. 

As a people manager, your job is to define what information is urgent and non-urgent for your team and ensure you are clearly setting the expectations around that. 

2. Difficult to keep track of messages. If you don’t organise all of your messages, you might find it difficult to keep monitor if they have been resolved, especially the important ones. What you can do is to make notes that will help you track which messages haven’t been resolved yet.

For example, when we over-use instant messaging tools like Slack, it can be difficult to keep on top of all updates as organisation scales. Consider the key points of information and other ways to distribute that so it gets the right amount of attention. 

3. Lacks genuine “social presence”. Asynchronous communication alone will not be a sufficient way of communicating with your team members if you want to improve their involvement in the team. This method has its benefits but it will do better if you mix it up with synchronous communication at the same time. To help improve the social connection within your team, schedule regular team meetings and discussions, too, to help everyone get a better sense of belongingness.

Asynchronous communication will be indispensable. It is just as essential as its counterpart and by implementing the right rules and methods, this can help you improve your team’s productivity communication and camaraderie.