In this article, we will tell you about asynchronous team communication in a company; inform you about the advantages and forms of communication worth choosing; describe how to establish excellent cooperation with all team members.
Communication in a team is one of the most significant aspects of future success. The same can be said about communication in an office and interactions with a remote team. Without understanding and mutual assistance, the project may fail. That is why we have collected some tips on what type of communication to choose, how to arrange it correctly, and how to build rapport in remote teams.
What is synchronous and asynchronous communication?
Let us imagine two situations. In the first one, you send an email to your colleague, and he or she answers in several minutes (or even seconds). You communicate in real-time, conduct quick discussions at any time, and receive responses immediately.
That is synchronous communication; its good examples can be meetings or dialogues in the office.
The second situation looks like this: you send an email to your colleague, but he or she needs several hours to answer, so you get the response a bit later. You plan online meetings, agree on the time for response, and consider the time zones.
That is asynchronous communication. Its real-life examples can be a planned call in ZOOM or a response from a site assistant, who needs time to open and process the request.
Why do you need asynchronous communication?
It is one of the best practices for working with remote teams. Your time and the respondent's time may differ significantly, and it can be hard to give an immediate response. If you set the framework, deadlines and plan a flexible schedule, this type of communication can greatly facilitate connection and interaction with the team (and save the nerves spent waiting for a response).
How does asynchronous communication work?
It is a type of communication for two or more people who can exchange information, and there is no need to be present "right here and right now". This form of communication is also suitable for cooperation with remote workers or teams.
For this communication, you need to choose the network through which you will interact (like Slack, which is a corporate messenger).
How to communicate asynchronously?
1. Exact intentions. When working with a remote team, which is in another country, time zone, etc., initially choose the type of cooperation - asynchronous and synchronous communication. Then, agree on the time and date when you will communicate. If the project is not urgent and you can wait a bit for a response, you should discuss this point straight away.
2. Cultural synchronicity in asynchronous communication. If you are working with a remote team from another country, region, or continent, you should be ready to accept the cultural peculiarities of this country. How long is a working day? When are people not able to respond to messages? What holidays determine the day off, and then no communication is possible - neither written communication nor video calls.
3. Clear distribution of tasks. You should immediately classify the tasks as urgent and non-urgent ones. Then, in the former case, the response time should definitely be reduced.
To communicate asynchronously does not mean to communicate irresponsibly. You can achieve quality communication when you set boundaries and deadlines. For instance, we will deal with these tasks by the end of the week and perform the other tasks a bit later.
Advantages of asynchronous communication
Everything that happens online - remains online. If you have correspondence with a colleague, you can find the part you need or download a document from the conversation at any time. Sometimes specific information can “get lost" during video calls. But if you use written asynchronous communication, you do not have to worry.
It helps avoid stress. And it is of paramount importance: you know how long it can take for a remote employee to answer. Consequently, you do not need to sit and wait for a response for two hours, and with that - to worry. You can continue to do some other tasks, and the message will come at some point in time.
Disadvantages of asynchronous communication
Time zones. Even though you have agreed on the time when the interlocutor should give responses, be prepared to receive the answers to your questions at night or in the very early morning due to the time difference.
Lack of emotional background. From time to time, it is important to hear how your interlocutor laughs or see how your colleague gestures. However, if you choose asynchronous communication, you should accept that emoticons are the only possible emotional background. Everything else is drily and emotionless.
What is the difference between asynchronous communication and correspondence in the mode "I do not get a reply for a long time"?
The difference is that you clearly agree on the confines of convenience and responsibility. Draw up a schedule that suits you and the remote team.
When a person does not respond, it does not mean that he/she ignores or forgets about cooperation. That means that the time she/he has allocated for your project has not come yet.
Challenges in communication with a remote team
Undoubtedly, remote work has its pros and cons. Speaking about pros, you are likely to reduce project costs and possibly save on taxes. It all depends on which country and type of work you choose.
Outsourcing or offshoring also allows you to explore a new and unfamiliar community, its cultural features, and its mentality. Moreover, this experience may provide the opportunity to enter a foreign market in the future.
But problem-solving can be a challenge in team communication: you are in different time zones, think in other languages, have your own peculiarities.
Here asynchronous communication comes to the rescue: if you choose the right communication tools and organize the process clearly, you can avoid undesirable nuances.
Examples of asynchronous communication
We bet you communicate asynchronously in your life :)
Imagine a situation: you send a message to a friend via messenger. You know that he/she is busy now (for example, working) and will answer only in the evening. So, you keep doing your business and are not waiting for an answer for the next few hours.
That is how asynchronous communication works. One of the examples is trivial email correspondence. The only thing you have to agree on beforehand is how long the message can "hang".
You can also communicate through the corporate Slack messenger. There it will be convenient to use written asynchronous communication or to plan calls in advance.
When is asynchronous communication worth choosing?
If you are working with a remote team, it is better to choose asynchronous communication. Imagine a call between two people. One person is from the United States, and another one is from Ukraine. The time difference is 7 hours. Thus, if you are writing to a colleague in the middle of the working day, the chances are, he or she is sleeping soundly or is still not able to wake up without a cup of coffee :)
When is asynchronous communication not worth choosing?
If your project is urgent and always carried out in real-time, it is better to choose synchronous communication. That is, you will always be in touch with colleagues in case an unforeseen situation occurs, and you have to fix it or find a solution quickly.
A hybrid of two types of communication
Sometimes you can mix two types of communication, synchronous and asynchronous. For example, you agree with colleagues on an exact time when you will be receiving answers. Simultaneously, real-time communication is present here.
If something happens that needs to be discussed right now, you have communication channels for instant messaging, such as a messenger, a phone, or a video platform from which you can contact a remote team fast.
Asynchronous communication is a type of communication that involves structured but long-term communication with a remote team. At first glance, it may seem easy, but it is not at all; asynchronous communication requires clear structuring and exact arrangements with remote workers.
Primarily asynchronous communication involves working with outsourcing teams. For that reason, it is worth learning about the cultural and mental peculiarities of the country you cooperate with.
The main advantages of this type of communication are convenience and clear structuring. However, if the cooperation takes place in real-time and requires more immediate reactions, it is better to withdraw from this type.