Image by Glenn Castens-Peters

When it comes to discussing remote work or working from home, you might have heard a new term pop up: asynchronous communication.

But what does asynchronous (async) communication mean? Why is it important? And how do you communicate asynchronously?

Below is a guide, in Q&A format, that breaks down what async communication is + how it can help you keep up productivity while staying flexible.

What is async communication?

Async communication is sending a message and not expecting an immediate response. It's communicating in non-real-time.

What are the benefits of async communication?

It allows you to keep productivity up while allowing your teams the flexibility they need to take care of their families and themselves. It also allows you to have more time to take action and reflect.

What about real-time communication?

Real-time communication is critical, whether it's in-person or over a zoom call, and will always be essential. But you need multiple types of communication, and now more than ever, we need to all think about non-real time communication. Instead of being interrupted during a state of flow, you can respond to messages and communicate on your own time.

Why use async video?

Async video allows you to show your face and expressions (so it's more personal), quickly send something explaining what's on your mind and keep in touch in a real way.

Why use async audio?

Rather than calling someone and interrupting them, one can leave a quick audio message with their thoughts and feedback, and they can reply on their own time. If it's not urgent, why make it feel that way for the other person?

What about Slack/email?

Slack is fantastic, but for many teams, it has morphed into a synchronous (real-time) communication tool that "implicitly requires" a quick and timely response. Rather than sending an update or thought in Slack, you could try sending an email with both video and text. Again this comes down to alignment around communication expectations on your team (otherwise email can also morph into a tool where people feel pressured to be online 24/7 and respond immediately!).

Final Takeaway

Regardless of what tool or platform you're using, and regardless of if you're communicating via voice, video or text, consider two questions:

  1. "Do I need an immediate response?"
  2. "Am I respecting people's time?"

If the honest answer to either of the above questions is no, try communicating asynchronously!