You hear many people say they are out of sync with another person.
But what does out-of-sync or async truly mean?
Out-of-sync often has a negative connotation. It signifies some sort of misalignment. Asynchronous can represent so many things, usually depicting events that are not taking place at the same time – there is a delay between them.
But when it comes to asynchronous communication for virtual teams, there are benefits that can make your work life so much easier and help you create more of the life you want. Sometimes, giving someone time to respond it’s the best thing it can happen.
Let’s get deeper into the definition of asynchronous communication and how such communicating freedom can help you reinvent your work day.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous (async) communication is a communication style based on a message exchange in which the parties are not engaging in real-time back-and-forth messaging for various reasons.
Async communication happened all the time in the past. Historically, when people weren’t in the vicinity, communicating with a time lag was the only possible way. For example, sending postal letters was a type of delayed communication that assumed the sender sometimes had to wait for months to get a response from the person on the receiving end.
That type of getting to another is almost dead. Today we have swung the pendulum of instant availability to the opposite extreme.
But with all advantages of having your dear people and business partners at a touch of a button, you cannot be everything to everyone at the same time. It creates a lot of stress and breaks down your most important focus time for doing deep work.
Furthermore, for virtual teams, it is impossible to communicate synchronously all the time. Unless you are in the same time zone, your colleague from across the world may be in the REM phase of their night sleep.
Having a phone call when both parties speak subsequently without pauses is an example of synced communication. Now let’s see what is asynchronous communication through some examples to understand its uses for virtual teams.
Watch the video to learn more about what is asynchronous communication and how to use it to structure your day:
Examples of Asynchronous Communication
The following media can be used as a communication channel that doesn’t require an immediate reaction from the other party:
- Communication apps (Slack)
- Online forums (Reddit)
- Collaborative documents (Dropbox, Google Drive)
- Shared platforms (Jira, Microsoft Teams)
- Project management tools (Trello, Basecamp, Asana)
- Social media comment section (Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Pre-recorded video (Zoom, Loom)
Virtual communication that takes place online is based on asynchronous communication technology. Instead of viewing async communication as something inconvenient, you can use it to create a shared space in which everyone on your team works when they please regardless of their location and time availability. If that sounds like total chaos, here are some rules for communicating asynchronously to your advantage. You need a structure.
Rules of Structured Async Communication
You can use async communication technology to reduce noise in your day, sharpen focus, and develop a result-focused system. Here is how you do it:
1. Create daily communication sessions.
Use them to provide your team an opportunity to ask questions without scheduling one-on-one meetings.
2. Use pre-recorded videos.
Instead of trying to fit a meeting with a 10-hour time difference in your schedule, get into asynchronous communication. Record a video and ask the other participant to do the same as a response. It leaves both of you with open hands to run your days as you prefer.
3. Set a communication window.
Commit to responding in a certain time period. For example, promise to respond in 48 hours. Ask for the same in return from your team to structure communication. Inform your team about your availability and stick to it to build team trust.
4. Ask for a meeting topic beforehand.
If you need to meet at the same time, ask why. Be concise. Asking the question in this way often solves the meeting topic without even holding the meeting.
5. Schedule group meetings.
Group meetings save you time and help team members to learn and grow from each other rather than just lose all the group creative juice from one-on-one exchanges.
6. Record meeting sessions to build a knowledge base.
Having pre-recorded videos and meeting recordings in your database helps with onboarding new members as they always have the core information to come back to when looking for answers.
7. Request an async check-in.
Check-ins from team members benefit your own insights about what’s going on without you having to micromanage and provide an opportunity to delegate work. The team does its job and you do yours.
8. Stick to the “Ask, don’t tell.” and “Show, don’t tell.” principles.
Asking and showing promote clarity of communication, ownership, and growth. Ask, then listen to clarify any confusion you may have encountered from team members. When a person approaches you with a problem, encourage them to view it proactively and creatively and come up with a solution on their own.
9. Don’t use async communication apps for introductory meetings.
The first time you hire a person online, find the time to meet them “in person” (in real-time in a video chat) to build rapport, get e better impression of who the person is, and capitalize on the tone of voice, body language, posture, and character.
By asking deep-dive questions in a structured communication you foster self-managed teams that will be more independent week by week. You won’t be distracted by meaningless factors and have more time for your team for burning issues and for your client. That is how you build a business that runs on asynchronous communication.
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What is Asynchronous Communication? (Infographic)