The importance of (asynchronous) communication.

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. 

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. 


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

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