Async Communication: Make your remote team communicate better

async communication

From the past two years, remote working has become the new normal, giving rise to an asynchronous approach, connecting from anywhere, at any time. It is a way to communicate, collaborate and coordinate with employees across countries from different time zones through email, team communication tools, Google Docs, etc.

According to the recent research by  Harvard Business Review, companies have seen an increase in productivity by using online tools for asynchronous communication.

Is It Time to Let Employees Work from Anywhere?

The objective of this article is to give you a clear idea of asynchronous communication and how it helps in remote work success. But, before going into the details, let us first understand the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

Synchronous approach: Simultaneous exchange

By definition, synchronous is anything that happens simultaneously, in sync. Therefore, when we speak of synchronous communication, it indicates a relationship in which the sender and receiver are interacting at the same time, whether they are in the same place.  

In this way, messages sent are immediately received and answered by other people. The communication happens in real-time, where the feedback is instantaneous.

Examples of synchronous communication –

  • Face-to-face meetings
  • Video conference
  • Digital notifications via Slack, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, etc. (if the recipient responds in real-time)  
  • Asking the teammate at your desk a quick question

Asynchronous approach: Flexible exchange

In asynchronous communication, the communicating partners do not enter into a conversation in real-time. It means the sender and receiver interact at different times, at the time that is most convenient for both. For instance, when someone sends you an email, you open it and respond hours later.

Examples of asynchronous communication –

  • Email
  • Discussion forums
  • Letters or other direct mail Project management tools  
  • Company virtual workspaces  
  • Text messaging via mobile devices

Challenges associated with synchronous communication at workplace

This highly synchronous way of working would be understandable if it produced results, but there is increasing evidence that all the overhead of real-time communication makes it difficult to focus, drains employees’ mental resources, and often makes it difficult to progress at work.  

Let’s briefly look at the main problems associated with synchronous culture –

  1. Constant interruptions
    The biggest drawback of synchronous communication is that it favors interruptions. When you work in a work environment that favors this kind of culture, you generally have more meetings and your colleagues come more often to interrupt you to ask you things. It can, therefore, sometimes be difficult to concentrate and do deep work.

  2. Loss of freedom
    When you receive a text message or email, you have the freedom to read it and respond to it later. With synchronous culture, this is impossible. If someone calls you or schedules meetings or comes to talk to you, you can’t ignore them and come back to them later. You must stop what you are doing to respond to him. This constraint gives less freedom.

  3. Creates unnecessary stress
    The expectation of being constantly available means employees have no control over their schedules. They spend business days reacting to requests rather than proactively setting their own agenda. Researchers also found that people who make up for time lost to workplace disruptions by trying to work faster lead to more stress, greater frustration, time pressure, and effort. This kind of synchronous culture can quickly lead to burnout.

Benefits of Async communication at work

Working remotely has long been synonymous with working in unsuitable environments for professional activity. This implies less predictable working conditions and obstacles to productivity (children, noisy neighbour’s, work, etc.). Asynchronous way of working in a telework context thus has the merit of allowing employees to regain control over their time management!  

But it is not only beneficial in a telework context. Many companies that still have offices are also adopting a more asynchronous approach to prevent their employees from being distracted or interrupted in their work.  

Among the main advantages of asynchronous approach, the most recognized are –

  1. Promotes the quality of work
    Asynchronous work style allows an individual to prepare for a good response by providing enough time. It means a particular answer has been sufficiently thought through, and thus a valuable and high-quality output is ensured. When employees are free to respond on their own schedule, they can focus on more important things, which eventually improves their performance and productivity, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

  2. Less stress at work
    Being constantly interrupted by notifications and messages makes work unproductive. With each interruption, there is a new cycle of concentration and focus to get back to what you were doing. Little by little, this creates stress, which further lowers focus and productivity throughout the day. Upfront, this will generate dissatisfaction with the job and the company and possibly even mental problems. Giving more autonomy to the employee allows them to plan better, to prioritize what is most important.

  3. Allows greater flexibility
    Isn’t it true that we all seek a perfect work-life balance? With asynchronous work, this goal seems more viable. The possibility of determining your own hours and calendar is the most attractive feature of remote and asynchronous employment. Some are most productive during the day, and some are more productive at night. Thus, asynchronous work culture gives the freedom to choose your own feasible work hours.

  4. Increases transparency
    While communicating asynchronously, one of the most important things is to pass on the information, at a later point in time in written form or in the form of pre-recorded videos and audios. As a result, your team can revisit and discuss the goals of a specific project or the expectations placed on them, leading to more transparency.

    Whether in written documents or recorded videos and audio, asynchronous communication makes it even more evident what is expected of your team and the time frame. This way, everyone knows what they are working on and has access to other project areas for an overall view. Transparency is crucial for your team’s growth and business development – it builds trust and allows your team to truly understand the vision behind the business goals.

Whether in written documents or recorded videos and audio, asynchronous communication makes it even more evident what is expected of your team and the time frame. This way, everyone knows what they are working on and has access to other project areas for an overall view. Transparency is crucial for your team’s growth and business development – it builds trust and allows your team to truly understand the vision behind the business goals.

How to build a more asynchronous culture within your team

The transition to asynchronous communication does not happen overnight. It requires a profound change in your organization’s work processes, habits, and culture. As too many emails have been plaguing workplaces for a long. But, the new modern digital workspace, collaboration tools, and work boards have replaced emails with more contextual and meaningful communication and interactions.

Here are some concrete steps you can take, individually and as a manager, to begin your transition –

  • Over-communicateWhen sending a message, include as much information as possible, both in writing and with visual tools. Be clear about what you expect from the other person, do not hesitate to detail your expectations. Set a deadline by which you expect a response/action from him.  

  • Plan aheadGive your collaborators time to reflect on your message before giving you feedback.  

  • Before meetings, share a common thread or documentShare all relevant information and discuss key points before the meeting so that everyone can fully understand the topic to be addressed.  

  • After the meetings, document your discussions and conclusions – Continue your thread, so people who weren’t there can have all the information they need. You can even experiment with video recording your meetings so they can “attend” them asynchronously.

  • Emphasize trust, independence, and responsibility – Without these values, asynchronous communication cannot work effectively. At the same time, set reasonable team-wide expectations for response times. For example, you can ask your employees to respond within 24 hours.

Wrapping Up

The synchronous and asynchronous forms of communication are two means that will always exist and coexist. There is no way to leave any of them aside, as they are great for different functions. However, in the current corporate context, prioritizing asynchronous approach is the best thing to do, especially in telework or hybrid workplaces. The fewer interruptions help the team be more focused, leading to better overall results.

Digital Workplace with a Human Touch: Make your workplace more human-centric

Digital workplace

The pandemic has changed people’s lives by unveiling the full potential of digital tools. Some of the features that make up a digital workspace are online collaboration, video calls and remote meetings, document management, and cloud services. This has been a lifeline for many companies to continue operations, but it is still an unexplored path for many others.  

Many business leaders believe that implementing the right technology like a low code development platform will transform the business. But the truth is, you cannot rely on technology alone to solve the problems. Technology is just a tool that enables employees to accomplish goals. So, employees must come first while designing a successful digital workplace. 

Humanizing the workplace is an essential step towards improving employee morale and retention rate and, in turn, improving the company’s productivity and capacity. Employees who feel connected to their digital workplace are much more likely to exhibit higher rates of morale and satisfaction levels than those who feel dehumanized in their work environment. This is the first and most crucial step towards digital transformation. According to a global survey by JLL, workplaces of the future will be versatile and hybrid, focusing on employee-centric solutions. 

What is a digital workplace?

A digital workplace is a cloud-based work platform that allows organizations to work virtually.  

Gartner analysts define it as “a business strategy that enables innovative and more efficient ways of working, leveraging worker-centric organizational models and technologies, and improving employee engagement and productivity.”  

A successful digital workplace aligns technology, people, and business processes to improve operational efficiency and achieve business goals.  

The next step in digital transformation strategy is to focus on employee engagement and provide them with an intentional and crafted digital experience to accomplish their work. As it is no longer mandatory to limit oneself to the office’s physical space to carry out professional activities, organizations need to think deeply about aligning their business processes and employees with technology.  

Ways digital workplace helps in making work more human 

Thankfully, there are several measures that business leaders can take to create a human-centric digital workplace. Here are some key elements to focus on –

  1. Trusting employees and encouraging their autonomy 
    The first step to bringing a human-centric approach to the digital workspace is trusting your employees and empowering them. Since you won’t be physically next to the team, you won’t be able to supervise tasks all the time, and this is where trust is required. If employees are well-associated with their tasks and perform activities with quality, they do not need full-time supervision. In these cases, it is necessary to encourage autonomy and assign responsibilities to them.  

    Before granting this independence to the entire team, it is essential to know each employee well and understand their level of maturity in the position. For instance, recently hired people may need your supervision more, so their autonomy will not be equal to professionals with more experience.

  2. Keeping lines of communication open
    A strong communications strategy based on modern, intelligent delivery systems can help employees feel safe, secure, and connected in a digital work environment. But, with tons of apps now available in communication, it is quite easier to send a quick message than have a real conversation with your employees. IMs and emails can often come off cold and distant or leave the employee feeling like you do not really want to engage with them. Therefore, it is essential to have a more human approach to interaction when possible.   

    With digital workplaces, you can set up an effective communication channel making it easy for the remote staff to collaborate easily with other team members and keep up to date with business changes.  

    Moreover, eye contact helps you empathize with employees and see if they understand what you’re talking about! For this reason, at times, you should turn on the camera during team meetings and ask your team members to do the same.  

  3. Aligning and engaging your workforce 
    Keeping remote employees engaged isn’t an easy feat by any means. As most of the employees and managers work remotely, ensuring the same level of motivation has become quite difficult compared to when they are at the office premises. So, implementing OKR here is the secret to digital workplace success.   

    The acronym OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results.” As its name indicates, it implies employee career success by allowing employees to focus and communicate more effectively and be more aligned across teams. OKRs assist in organizing teams and their day-to-day work around achieving common objectives. It helps employees connect with their managers or business leaders with increased transparency, improved focus, and better alignment.   

    Moreover, the OKR framework also helps employees to:   
    • Keep regular track of their progress.
    • Increases focus & productivity. 
    • Elevates employee engagement & commitment. 
    • Allows employees and their leaders to work cohesively.  

  4. Offering flexible working-hours 
    It is worth saying that flexible working hours are the key to productivity during remote working. Gartner’s 2020 Reimagine HR Employee Survey revealed that only 36% of employees were high performers at organizations with a standard 40-hour workweek. And organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where, and how much they work see 55% of their workforce as high performers. When employees are getting the job done, being a business leader, how can you support them and provide the digital workplace solutions they expect and need?   

    To start, organizations should strive to provide employees with modern digital experiences that enable them to work according to their convenience. Empowering employees with this sort of flexibility delivers significant employee experience benefits and helps them to better manage their work-life balance, improve their wellness and be more productive.  

  5. Main advantages of human-centric digital workplace 
    Now that we comprehend the concept of the digital workplace and the implementation of a human-centric work environment, let us explore the advantages of putting it into practice. 

  6. Increased productivity  
    Adopting the digital workspace will allow your company to rely on more effective processes, generating a positive impact on the entire team’s productivity. Technological advancements have entirely reshaped organizations by streamlining business activities and automating some tasks.   

    With this improvement provided by the digital workplace, team members will produce more in less time. Moreover, they will be able to leverage these smarter tools to collaborate better.  

  7. Retaining talent  
    Every employee wishes to be valued, and it is common for everyone to like it when superiors express the same. Employees who feel valuable and essential to the company have a great tendency to remain part of it and do so of their own free will. Thus, business leaders now can value their employees, skills, presence, and all the excellent work done in the process using technological tools.   

    A digital workplace enables businesses to take advantage of technological developments by centralizing information and organizational processes, creating a social network and collaboration platform, thus building a strong employer brand, and retaining talent.  

  8. Superior team engagement  
    Keeping your team members engaged with their activities is very desirable, as it contributes to the efficiency and quality of their deliveries. Although it appears that a digital workplace will make people more distant, the reality is quite the opposite. In most cases, there is an increase in team engagement. It is because the digital workplace facilitates access to learning platforms, making it possible to train your team independently. Moreover, gamification features help to amplify that potential.