Asynchronous Communication: Best Practices and Tips

In order for remote work to prosper, there needs to effective communication. To be specific asynchronous and synchronous communication among teams. In this article, we'll be discussing the best practices and tips for asynchronous communication.

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication is when you send a message without expecting an immediate response. Compared to synchronous communication, where you send a message and there's a sense of immediacy.

Examples of asynchronous communication are:

  • Email
  • Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook messaging
  • Basecamp, Quip, Asana, and other project management tools
  • Letters / Sticky notes

Best practices for asynchronous communication

Invest in your writing. Many times, what we write to our peers can be easily misunderstood. When drafting up a message, think about the main points you want to convey. Try bulleting your message instead of introducing a huge a paragraph. This will only lead to less back-and-forth.

Distinguish what is urgent. Knowing the difference between urgent and important communication is crucial. When you're about to message a team member decide whether or not what you're saying has a level of urgency. Being thoughtful when communication with your remote will be less emotionally taxing on them.

Set clear intentions. This means establish clear processes and expectations with your teams. Are there weekly deliverables? Important syncs? Find your communication style and stating the clear intentions will reduce the amount of additional stress you and your team feel.

Challenges of asynchronous communication

Upholding transparency. This reality for remote teams is that information can sometimes fall into gaps which leads to eroded trust. And oftentimes, it makes your co-workers feel like they aren't performing their best. Whether it's written or verbal communication, be radical candid with your team.

Navigating time zones. Now with remote, your peers are spread all across the world. That means they're in different time zones. And you can’t expect a quick response if you’re working in PT and your coworker is eating dinner with their family on ET. When you prepare a communication plan that is cognizant various time zones, careful organization is necessary so work isn’t stopped by time differences.

Losing emotional context. Many of us unable to detect the subtle changes in tone and facial expressions over Zoom. On a remote teams, we lose some of the human cues that make real life conversations so colorful. And because of that we’re forced to make educated guesses on how our teammates might be feeling.

Asynchronous communication with remote teams

It's A-OK to over-communicate. Since asynchronous communication tends to be slower, communication needs to be detailed to avoid significant back-and-forth. Don't be afraid to add extra details because you rather be clear with your intentions than cause confusion.

Set up timeframe parameters. Because of timezones, it’s imperative to be clear about the date, time, and timezones. Add parameters like response time and due dates to ensure that communication continues to move forward. Also, consider adding parameters when it comes to responding after work hours. Establishing these boundaries will help people get unblocked by information or feedback needed.

Intentions with organization. Asynchronous communication needs some kind of organization that keeps everyone up to speed. More importantly, how you and your team find that sweet spot in naming Slack channels or threads will keep everyone in the loop. For example, consider having a Slack channel for each department, on-going projects, and even general company updates. Create each thread with a purpose in mind.

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