Whether sitting in an office with your work colleagues, attending a zoom meeting, or working from home without a form of communication, the world of remote work and work itself would come to a standstill. Communication, the act of sharing and exchanging information, ideas and feelings, is vital to any social relationship. However, regarding remote work, communication is ‘the’ most important aspect. Through this article, we would like to answer why communication is the most important in any remote work setting and what type of communication - synchronous vs asynchronous communication is the best for you.
Communication in a remote work environment is essential to building irreplaceable and healthy work culture. Lack of essential communication leads to various problems that might harm the workspace and the company. For example, if you are working on a project and you require certain information and resources to complete your project comprehensively, what would you do? Would you ask your project manager to provide extra resources and information? Or, would you work on it without letting anybody know that you require some extra information? In such cases, the significance of communication shines. If you fail to communicate with your project manager about the lack of resources and information, the end product will be incomplete and unsatisfactory. The lack of communication often leads to major company issues, making them lose many more resources. Communication is the key to keeping a workplace up and running and building a healthy workspace, especially in a remote work setting. A remote work setting has its own set of major challenges associated with the management of remote teams. One of the major ones is, picking the ideal way to communicate.
Among the different types of communication, the two major types are:
Synchronous communication, or sync, is communication that takes place in real-time and necessitates a prompt response. Face-to-face chats, Zoom, and Google Meetup calls are examples of synchronous communications. Synchronous communication also utilizes simultaneous messaging applications such as Slack, when everyone is online at the same moment and using the same application.
Synchronous communication is the more traditional form of communication in a workspace. Working inside an office, talking and relaying information directly with your colleagues. However, the closure of office spaces due to COVID-19 led people to a more remote-only setting, practicing asynchronous communication. However, synchronous communications never died off. Instead, due to the immense success of video chat applications like Zoom, Google Meets, Teams, etc., synchronous communication still works well, even in a remote-only setting.
When two (or more) persons interact without being "present" simultaneously, this is known as asynchronous communication, or async. Due to the onset of COVID-19, almost all firms and companies pursued remote work. Due to this sudden rise in companies going remote, the call for a more inclusive yet comprehensive type of communication got much louder. Therefore, asynchronous communication exploded in popularity as it does not occur in real-time and allows participants to respond at their leisure.
The duration between sending an asynchronous message and receiving a response might range from minutes to weeks. Some popular tools used in asynchronous communication are Email, Google Docs feedback/comments, Asana, etc.
While synchronous communication is the default mode of communication in conventional work environments, it is also widely used in remote setups. Synchronous communications enable direct one-on-one meetings between the employees and provide a quick mode of exchanging information or ideas between the different team members.
Synchronous communication works well if you want to execute tasks on priority or have something urgent to discuss with your team members. Synchronous communication enables a spontaneous discussion and instant resolution of conflicts or bottlenecked tasks. There are a variety of tools and applications that provide an effective synchronous communication platform for remote teams to share information and ideas.
When you hire remote team members, Synchronous communication has its advantages as it enables them to converse effectively through immediate response. One of the significant advantages of synchronous mode is that it brings remote team members together and helps to build a sense of bonding between them. Synchronous communication is great from a team-building perspective, as it helps to generate productive communication and enables the team members to connect on a deeper level. Synchronous communication also provides instant resolution of problems as it helps in exchanging ideas through immediate response.
Synchronous communication also helps to make the feedback process more effective as the team members can voice their concerns and appreciation on the go. The synchronous communication tends to be raw, natural, and more organic, thus providing a more compelling element to resolve conflicts in a live environment.
You can have effective synchronous communication with your remote team members in numerous ways. Synchronous communication helps to keep the conversation flowing and dynamic and encourages instant feedback and immediate response from the remote workers. Before implementing synchronous communication tools for your company-wide communication, it is vital to know your requirements, budgets, and scale of operations.
Once you are clear on the logistics, you can choose from various synchronous communication tools. You can choose prominent synchronous communication tools: Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
Asynchronous communication is one of remote team setup's most common communication modes. The big reason behind asynchronous communication being prominent in remote teams is that remote employees work across the globe in different time zones. Asynchronous communication helps them keep in touch with the team members conveniently without requiring them to present simultaneously.
In just the past 2 to 3 years, asynchronous communication has changed how many firms and establishments work. The idea of asynchronous communication is something that has become extremely popular among various organizations and for very good reasons.
Asynchronous communication puts high emphasis on flexibility and understanding each other. It helps build very good working relationships and also aids in building trust within the organization. Asynchronous communication tackles the issue of time zones very effectively, which, in a remote work environment, is something many people worry about. Utilizing many different asynchronous communication tools such as Asana and Google Docs, you can easily add and edit tasks, leave comments, suggest edits, and resolve them if you feel like it.
Asynchronous communication has another significant yet unspoken advantage: It reduces work-related stress. There is no expectation that any team member would respond to an inquiry immediately when your whole organization runs under the assumption that any team member might be offline at any moment, for any reason.
Therefore, async creates an atmosphere where your mental health is valued, allowing team members to establish boundaries and liberating them from constant notifications and criticism. Asynchronous communication also enables more thoughtful and considered responses than synchronous communication, where you have to respond on the go, which might lack depth.
When you promote a culture of progress over perfection, async becomes easier to embrace. Move a project ahead as much as you can give the resources you have, and if you get stuck, try shipping what you have now through a two-way door.
This shipping lets colleagues understand where you're going and relieve them of the obligation to respond right away since some progress is better than none. In an asynchronous culture with asynchronous communication methods, incremental improvements are as crucial as major launches. Whether big or small, celebrating wins helps build a very good work culture and pushes your employees to work with satisfaction. After all, these small wins create a much larger win.
If you have never experienced how async works, you need to ask yourself this question: "If no one else on my team (or in my firm) was awake right now, how would I convey this message, present this work, or drive this project forward?" This puts you in the async mindset and helps you understand how to implement asynchronous communications in your team or your organization effectively.
There are different asynchronous communication tools that you can integrate into your daily workflow. Some project management tools that integrate asynchronous communications include Asana, Slack, Trello, Email, and messaging apps. To use the right tools for your company, you should first document your requirements and then choose the most compatible apps for asynchronous communication based on that.
Asynchronous communication will not address all of your communication problems at work. While looking at different aspects of synchronous vs asynchronous communication is helpful, finding a balance, like in most things, is crucial. For example, there may be instances when you're interacting with your coworkers over Slack and don't feel like you're making any progress. They could have misconstrued what you were trying to communicate, resulting in a dispute. In these cases, starting a video or phone call is the way to go.
Synchronous communication can provide additional data points to monitor and interpret the message. That's one of the benefits of talking. It's difficult to read body language through email or Slack, although it's simpler to discern in person. Synchronous communication is also beneficial when you need to collaborate fast (like during brainstorming sessions). There are occasions when having several individuals there allows for greater insights.
Balancing synchronous and asynchronous communication is the best way to build an effective and efficient remote work system properly. Synchronous and asynchronous communication modes complement each other perfectly, as building a pure sync or an async workspace is almost impossible at this stage. Creating a lively and happy environment and cultivating a good and secure work culture would make the weekly 1-on-1s even more interesting and fun to attend.
Harboring trust and building good relationships and friendships with your colleagues will promote a positive work environment everyone would love to work. Therefore, it is very important to strike a balance. It is not always about synchronous vs asynchronous, but more about having a cohesive framework of synchronous and asynchronous communication. When both the communication modes are in sync, it helps to create the perfect work environment.
Work and life are never two separate entities, yet they will never be the same. To create the perfect remote working environment, you must follow life's many principles. Maintaining a balance according to your needs, and tailoring your solution to those needs, will help your organization succeed in creating a safe, sound, and happy remote work environment.
What is the way to go?
The answer is surprisingly simple yet subjective. There is no right way, nor is there any wrong way to go. You should be the one to choose your way to go, the path that you choose to push your organization forward, and the path that you pave for others to follow. It is your choice to choose the way you want to move forward, a path you build yourself.
Why choose Turing to build your perfect remote team? Turing is a one-of-a-kind platform that allows businesses to recruit remote software developers from a global pool. Putting up a DEI team for your company is much easier when you have such a varied talent pool.
Pranav Surendran is a final year IT engineering student who has an undying passion for writing and exploring concepts, be it technical or non-technical. Pranav loves to talk about things that fascinate him, be it books, movies, animes and anything in between.
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