It’s more common than ever for teams to communicate through emails and instant messaging. The beauty of this is that each coworker can work at their own pace, and even from their own home. More companies are championing remote work or have offices spread across cities and countries. With employees working in different time zones, nothing would get done without asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication makes it so that employees don’t need to be in the same place at the same time to get things done. In 2017 remote working had risen about 44% over the previous 5 years, and there are countless studies showing how working from home can increase productivity. With the ability to shift focus based on need rather than in-the-moment requests, people are able to stay in the zone and concentrate on the tasks at hand.
Read on to learn more about asynchronous communication and how you can use it effectively in your workplace.
Asynchronous vs. synchronous communication
Asynchronous communication occurs when you provide information that doesn’t require an immediate response. Email, texts, Slack, Trello, Gitlab, and Prezi Video — these are all asynchronous communication tools. The point of these tools is to provide information that other people can review whenever they’re ready. There is no immediacy to these tools (although you may have received more than a few emails that imply otherwise).
On the flip side, synchronous communication happens in real time. These are conversations with colleagues, phone calls, meetings (both in person and over the phone). You and your listeners are in sync — you say something and your listener listens and responds immediately.
This has its benefits — the best way to stay on top of your work is to respond to issues immediately and quickly take care of them. But it’s also limiting. Imagine if the only way you could talk about work was in person and in the moment — you’d probably take more opportunities to talk about work, even when you are on a time crunch to finish up a project. What’s the better use of your time — finishing up your work for a tight deadline, or discussing a lower priority project?
Staying in the flow
The ability to prioritize your most pressing work is one of the greatest benefits of asynchronous communication. This allows people to stay in a “flow state” — a state of mind when you’re fully immersed in a task. People who are in a flow state will respond to requests when they’re done or ready to take a break.
Unlocking the flow state is one of the keys to productivity. It gives you the option to manage your schedule around the actual work itself. If you typically meet with your team in the morning, but that clashes with your most productive part of the day, then consider incorporating more asynchronous meetings into your schedule.
Asynchronous meetings through video
Meetings are an essential part of most working environments, but they are time-consuming and interrupt workers’ concentration, which can negatively impact productivity. Instead, use Prezi Video to hold meetings asynchronously. Just make a video with the content you would’ve covered in a regular meeting, then record and share with the attendees. This allows the attendees to cover the material on their own time, so that they don’t have to interrupt what they’re working on.
You’ll probably still have regular meetings on your calendar for discussions and brainstorms. Before holding a meeting, send a Prezi video out to your attendees with useful background info. Just as with the asynchronous meeting, they’ll be able to review the content on their own time and be more prepared for the in-person meeting.
In his Prezi video, Darren Murph, the Head of Remote at Gitlab, walks through the benefits of working remotely and describes how to set asynchronous meetings effectively. Watch his video, Stop the Madness! The Asynchronous Cure to Notification Overload, to learn more about asynchronous communication and how to use it in your workplace.