Asynchronous communication: the Solution.

Arina Gerdyush
October 22, 2021

Introducing: a solution that is being touted as a cure to everything from Zoom fatigue to inefficiency and fragmented working days and it has been with us since the days of letter-writing. Asynchronous communication.

Simply put, asynchronous communication is reaching out and not expecting an answer straight away. The worker can decide themselves (within reason) when to answer the query and focus on uninterrupted work instead.

Do you feel anxious when you hear the sound of a message coming in and drop everything to answer? That should ring some alarm bells. 

So how can asynchronous communication become the solution to ineffective workplace communication?

It takes the pressure off the hyper-connectedness that rules the workplace. This became obvious when workers went remote en-mass. It came as a shock to some that remote workers proved to be more productive but it really shouldn’t have.

For many, remote work is the only way they can control their work environment and face fewer interruptions. But with asynchronous communication, there is still more room to grow if unnecessary interruptions are eliminated. Streamlining teamwork with asynchronous communication means less stress and anxiety from the high cognitive load, more productivity, flexibility and creative collaboration. The quality of communication also goes up. If employees don’t feel like they have to answer in 0.02 seconds, they can give more information when they’re ready and have seriously considered the question.

Some companies even find that this reduces HR issues as people don’t tend to explode on each other retroactively. 

While the benefits are clear, it is not all that surprising that uptake has been slow in some industries. Tech and start-ups lead the way, but for others, it could be a harder sell. The reason for this is very simple. It’s a paradigm shift. Switching to asynchronous communication requires a complete rethinking of the way we communicate in this day and age.

When the option of giving someone a (video) call is there, it’s easy to think you’re justified and your request is urgent. However, very few questions are actually urgent! Especially when you could be disturbing someone’s workflow.

It can be frightening to not feel like you can’t reach out anytime (especially to the micromanager!) but once efficient processes are implemented it becomes easy to do more with less. 

Finally, what are some concrete methods to implement asynchronous communication into the workflow? There is no indication that workers will ever return to the office on a full-time basis so it’s up to management and individuals to come up with a sustainable way forward. The key is planning and consistency. Here are some tried and true methods to minimise workday interruptions and exchange information efficiently:  

  • Send better emails! Include all the information, links, documents, even a voice message if it helps prevent a back and forth. 
  • Schedule times in a day when people reply to communications 
  • Put the policy in black and white: don’t forget to include what time frame you expect with communication. Response within 24, 48 hours… be realistic about it! 
  • Communicate on a need to know basis, each message has to be maximally relevant to everyone receiving it. 
  • Set up an emergency line and stick to it. If you have an SOS situation, obviously you can’t wait, find a way to differentiate that from your normal communications. Flag them, use a code word or a separate channel. But no crying wolf! 

Now that you know where to start, asynchronous communication is easily applied to any position. The biggest challenge is how do you take those principles and incorporate them into positions that are fueled by human interaction?

Presenting: the case of remote recruiting. Or, if you’re already doing it, how to take it even higher, and if you’re not then why you should. 

Case: Remote Recruiting 

Recruiters work hard to source new talent for the company or their clients and they have to pay attention to everything from skills to cultural fit. Many claim to hire people and not CVs and in order to do that, there must be a connection.

As people we really value personal touch! The most straightforward way to create that connection is to meet the person but if there is one thing the pandemic showed us; it does not have to be face to face, or as it turns out, even synchronous.

A video or a phone call is fine but it will always feel like going for the second best when compared to a real life chat. Plus, that interaction is not necessary to force. Besides, why not harness technology to request information from candidates who might’ve been hard to reach before, like those already in employment! 

So, what are your options? 

Different companies have experimented with different types of asynchronous recruitment methods. The most obvious example is written answers from general motivation letters to specified questionnaires but this can be a little impersonal.

On the very opposite end of that spectrum there is asynchronous video recording/questionnaires but many people may be self-conscious or distracted when they have to watch their own face, and that’s not even going into the minefield of subconscious bias on the part of the recruiter that is still present with video. So, here’s the sweet spot.

Asynchronous audio recordings/questionnaires. During the application or after the candidate applies and their CV is flagged as interesting, they can be sent questions that they record an answer to whenever they please. That way the recruitment team can review the answers in a structured way and even share them between themselves, making it much easier to scale.

But it’s not a trade off, the candidate can sleep easy knowing their application is being reviewed in an organised way and its more personalised than words on a page. So, actually, there’s not much of a trade-off at all. 

A step into asynchronous communication is already good, but it is also important to integrate tools that make the process even more worthwhile. Now that you aren’t stressing about all the unnecessary messages, you can do so much more. The sky is the limit! 

Audio Intakes

With all this in mind, here’s our contribution to the asynchronous revolution. Having considered all the pros, cons and best practices, Audio Intakes is the tool to bring asynchronous audio recordings to a new level while keeping it as personal as possible it is also super scalable as it can be automated to the max.

Audio Intakes standardises intake interactions by allowing the recruiter to set questions and for candidates to record their audio answers. The tool then takes the experience a step further with automatic speech to text documentation and full integration in existing software.

When the goal is to free up time and eliminate frustration, the asynchronous workflow is a dream with the right tools. 

See it in action.