When nearly the entire business world was used to working on schedules and predefined time frames, the pandemic disrupted the culture.
Remote work has become the new normal and organizations are embracing asynchronous communication with open arms.
Synchronous communication is all about connecting in real-time via in-person meetings, phone calls and video conferences. As effective as it is, this method of communication cannot address the remote work communication challenges.
The remote or hybrid working conditions require a more flexible yet powerful method to communicate and collaborate, which is asynchronous communication.
Though miles apart, with the help of an excellent communication model like asynchronous communication, employees can collaborate and deliver the desired results.
If you are new to the concept, effective implementation of asynchronous communication can be overwhelming.
In this post, I am discussing 6 best practices to adopt asynchronous communication in your organization for flawless collaboration and enhanced performance.
Let’s get started.
Asynchronous communication: what is it and how can your business benefit from it?
Asynchronous communication refers to any corporate communication that does not take place in real-time.
When organizations offer remote and hybrid work cultures, one of the biggest challenges they face is keeping people from different time zones, routines and schedules connected.
The traditional approach of synchronous communication does not work here.
Professionals need to rely on emails, project management systems like Slack, digital whiteboards, messaging tools and video recording tools for asynchronous communication.
When you write an email to a colleague or Slack them, you are delivering certain information. But the other person is not obligated to respond to you immediately.
Rather, they can take some time to understand your requirements and provide a more thoughtful response.
Asynchronous communication, when implemented effectively in a remote working environment, can offer multiple benefits for your organization.
- This model of communication offers more flexibility to your employees. They can have better control over their work day as they choose their most productive work hours and prioritize work.
- With the inclusion of asynchronous communication, help in employees development effectively and due to this your employeed can work more effectively and be more productive as there is reduced dependency.
- Asynchronous communication helps improve internal communication across different locations and time zones.
- It works well with workflow automation to streamline multiple functions based on predefined criteria.
- Asynchronous communication allows conversations to be recorded for future reference.
Best practices to effectively incorporate asynchronous communication into remote work
The power of async communication can only be harnessed when you learn to incorporate it effectively into your work culture.
Here are the six top tips and best practices to help you get started in the right direction.
1. State clear guidelines & intentions
Remote work culture requires a lot more detailed and specific guidelines for employees, teams and external collaborators to work smoothly.
When you incorporate asynchronous communication, you should explicitly lay down guidelines that provide a broad framework for everyone to follow.
Some of the areas you need to address include:
- Use right communication channels for day to day communication.
- Ideal waiting period for a response.
- The time frame for follow-up and escalation messages.
- The procedure to handle critical issues.
- Setting up a defined procedure to handover tasks.
While designing the collaboration asynchronous communication guidelines, try your best to strike a balance between inclusiveness and timely completion of tasks.
2. Share all relevant information upfront
One of the fundamental best practices for asynchronous communications is to share all relevant information upfront.
In an asynchronous working environment where people are working at different times, it makes more sense to communicate all the details in one message. It helps the other person understand the entire requirement.
Let’s say you're reaching out to a colleague to gather specific data and collectively analyze it. Instead of sending a generic email saying, “Hey Matt, I need your input. Please get in touch quickly,” you can draft a detailed email explaining your requirements.
It’s also a good practice to share access to related documents upfront so that your colleague doesn't have to wait for you. Use a wiki or knowledge base to organize and categorize your content.
When you streamline asynchronous communication, you avoid wasting time at either end, reduce dependency and boost productivity.
3. Set & follow deadlines strictly
Yes, this best practice applies to asynchronous work culture as much as it does to a synchronous setting.
For effective asynchronous communication, employers should set clear deadlines and ensure that all teams stick to the time frames provided.
This helps team members to prioritize their tasks and schedule their workload while keeping the deadlines in mind.
Let's say different employees are responsible for different stages of your sales process. By clearly communicating the deadlines, you are giving a person enough time to complete their task and send it forward without keeping the next person waiting.
This kind of asynchronous communication ensures that your projects stay on target and focused, which in turn helps you manage business expenses effectively.
4. Avoid time zone bias
Adopting asynchronous communication with a remote team could make you unconsciously favor one time zone over another.
This can prove to be a major hurdle when you need to have an all-hands meeting, update teams about client requirements, conduct live learning sessions, or hold a casual team bonding session.
To minimize time zone bias, you should consciously work on accommodating different time zones into your plan.
Organize these events at a time that is convenient for a majority of time zones.
If employees from certain time zones are left out, provide them with recordings of the sessions that they can watch later.
5. Support asynchronous communication with the right tools
Tech advances triggered phenomenal upgrades in the way we communicate.
Today, hundreds of communication and collaboration tools are at our disposal.
However, when adopting asynchronous communication for remote work, you should select your tools wisely.
The tools you invest in should promote quality communication and collaboration rather than being a distraction.
A classic example is choosing a professional communication tool such as Slack over an instant messaging app like WhatsApp.
As convenient as it is, WhatsApp may dilute the entire concept of asynchronous communication, luring people to spend more time messaging each other rather than focusing on the task at hand.
Another great tool at your disposal is Scribe — a process documentation tool that makes it easier than ever to write and share how something's done.
Whether you're building SOPs, adopting a new platform or simply answering a quick question: Scribe does the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is:
- Turn on the extension.
- Go through your process.
- Watch Scribe auto-generate a step-by-step guide — complete with text and annotated screenshots.
Here's a Scribe in action.
6. Document everything accurately
One of the top best practices for the successful implementation of asynchronous communication is documentation.
When you choose to adopt this model of communication, you are essentially documenting all your communication.
The challenge is, how do you segregate and categorize valuable data from this enormous pile of conversations?
The key lies in establishing a standardized procedure for documentation across the organization.
Whether you are a small venture or your business is ranked among the dividend kings, train your employees how to document their conversations accurately.
It should be easy to go back to these conversations for verification and to resolve issues.
When asynchronous communication is documented systematically, it can also serve as a valuable resource for training executives to seamlessly switch to a remote work culture.
Get ready to adopt asynchronous communication successfully
With all its wonderful benefits, remote work culture comes with its own challenges. To overcome these hurdles, business leaders should establish remote team collaboration rules.
Organizations can reap multiple benefits from incorporating asynchronous communication into their remote work culture.
But your strategy needs to strike the perfect balance between following a standard structure and allowing adequate flexibility for your employees to perform their best.
Go ahead and adopt the best practices I have discussed above into your asynchronous communication policy.
Create a work culture where professionals and the organization can grow together.
About the Author
Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.