If you work in a decentralized team, you are probably familiar with the challenges of different work schedules.

Working remotely can be great because it allows for a lot of flexibility, but it can also be tough because it's easy to feel isolated.

Problems that in-person teams might choose to address in a face-to-face meeting could take a long time to solve if communicated through messages.

This is where asynchronous communication can be helpful. When real-time meetings are not possible, asynchronous communication is a way to deliver priorities more effectively.

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication is a type of communication that is not in real-time. There is a delay between when the message is sent and when it is received.

Global or remote teams often use asynchronous communication because it allows for effective communication without needing an immediate response.

Why is asynchronous communication important?

When was the last time you got work notifications after-hours? How about being interrupted by your phone, texts, and social media notifications during work hours?

How did it feel?

Chances are, you felt more unproductive and efficient.

There are adverse effects of having regular work conversations after-hours and getting interrupted frequently.

First, it can hurt employee performance and morale.

Then, it can drain productivity as employees are pulled away from their work to have these conversations.

And most unfortunate yet, it can create a feeling of being "on call" all the time, which can be stressful and lead to burnout.

Fortunately, you can try to have these conversations during regular work hours. If that's not possible, you can try to use asynchronous communication methods, like email or chat. This way, employees can have the conversation when it's convenient for them, and they're not pulled away from their work.

This is because asynchronous communication allows employees to focus on their priorities by putting a stop to ineffective communication, like meetings with no agenda.

Additionally, it promotes a workplace that is more productive and efficient. Consider implementing asynchronous communication within your team.

This results in a culture of thoughtfulness and inclusivity, where employees feel comfortable jumping back into work without worrying about missing a meeting in another time zone.

How does asynchronous communication work in practice?

In asynchronous communication, messages are not sent immediately but are instead stored and delivered at a later time.

This can be useful when people are not available to communicate simultaneously or when messages need to be delivered in a different order than they were sent.

Asynchronous communication can also help to avoid overwhelming people with too many messages at once.

Here are some asynchronous communication best practices:

DO: Instead of having daily stand-ups, weekly updates, and brainstorming sessions, use asynchronous communication for remote teams.

Asynchronous communication can be a great way for remote teams to stay connected, even when team members are in different time zones. By using daily stand-ups, weekly updates, and brainstorming sessions, team members can stay up-to-date on what's going on without having to coordinate a meeting.

DON’T: 1-on-1s and coaching shouldn’t be replaced with asynchronous communication.

It is crucial for managers and employees to connect for 1-on-1 conversations to build trust and have coaching conversations. Real-time conversations, in-person or virtual, are essential for 1-on-1s to be effective. Asynchronous communication cannot replace 1-on-1s.

DO: Use asynchronous communication for employees that have proactive roles and responsibilities.

Proactive roles refer to areas of responsibility that don't require real-time communication to make progress. For instance, think of your accounting department creating the budget for the next fiscal year. While very important, the role does not require immediate responses from other staff to complete the deliverable.

DON’T: Use asynchronous communication for employees that have reactive roles and responsibilities.

Reactive roles are areas of responsibility that demand immediate attention, as opposed to proactive roles. A great example of this is your customer support team. Because customer concerns need to be solved in real-time, asynchronous communication among customer support representatives wouldn't work well.

Topicflow supports both asynchronous and synchronous communication for better team collaboration.

Plenty of remote teams have adopted asynchronous communication successfully with the help of asynchronous communication tools. Topicflow is a leading platform to consider implementing for better team collaboration.

Topicflow is a meeting productivity solution designed to make your team meetings and 1-on-1s more productive and meaningful. Topicflow users can easily connect with Google and Outlook calendars.

Key features:

  • Build and share agendas, capture notes in real-time, and add rich media.
  • Resolve every conversation, follow topics across meetings, reference notes, and action items.
  • Track action items, make decisions, and stay committed to goals.
  • $5/USD per user per month for upgraded features.

Final thoughts

Now that we’re well aware of the adverse effects of having regular work conversations after-hours, like hurting employee performance and morale, and the best practices of asynchronous communication—it’s time to take action.

Your team doesn't have to adopt the "always-on" culture with the correct implementation of asynchronous communication. Instead, communicate effectively across different time zones asynchronously to ease the pressure of responding outside work hours.

After all, the beauty of asynchronous communication is its proactive approach to addressing priorities.

Adopting a workflow that supports both asynchronous communication and synchronous communication will ultimately support the productivity of employees working across different time zones and remote teams.

Let us know if you currently use asynchronous communication for in-person or remote teams. Have you adopted a meeting or productivity tool to do this?