Imagine a work culture where timezones don’t matter, meetings are more purposeful, and team members can work remotely on a schedule that fits best for them. A work culture that enables remote work to provide complete freedom in how, where, and when you want to work in the world, while still staying productive.
Simply put, asynchronous communication (often shortened: async communication) is any type of interaction which does not require an immediate response and for all team-members to be online simultaneously.
Imagine getting a message from your coworker, but there is no need to rush with your answer. You can finish the task you are working on, and respond whenever it fits to your schedule. In async-first communication, you and your team are free to communicate with each other when it is most productive to do so, and to batch responses when taking a break from your focused work.
While asynchronous communication provides the biggest benefit for remote-first teams, all companies can benefit from the values of async communication. Whether it be hybrid or in-office teams, striving towards the asynchronous culture enriches them as well.
Synchronous communication is up until now the most common way we interact in the workplace. Conversations happen in “real-time”, meaning workers are expected to respond immediately and be on-site or online at the same time as their coworkers throughout the workday.
Working synchronously can either take place on-site in an office, remotely from home, or a hybrid model between these two. Whether a team-member stops by your desk or sends you a message while working remotely, the expectation is the same: to get an immediate response as soon as they reach out.
Asynchronous communication provides huge benefits to both remote working employees and companies.
Eliminating all types of real-time interactions in an asynchronous work culture is not beneficial. Humans need personal interactions with others, and employees still want to connect in real-time and/or face-to-face.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering good connections amongst employees was difficult. In a survey conducted with 223 executives in December 2019 and January 2020, people were already struggling with feelings of social isolation at work:
Many async companies are aware of this issue and declare that it is essential to worker’s productivity and health to offer (and in some cases require) synchronous communication.
Doist, the remote async company behind the productivity app Todoist and the only asynchronous first-communication app Twist, experienced this fact as well: At the beginning of their switch to async, they realized employees felt disconnected from their team-members, after eliminating most synchronous interactions. Providing team-members with the potential to build personal connections, they started to implement selective synchronous communication, such as 1-on-1s, weekly team meetings, as well as yearly company-wide and smaller team retreats.
Recently, Docker, the company which automates the deployment of code inside software containers, has made the shift for everyone to work fully remotely and asynchronously. However, they will offer employees who live near to each other the support to meet up and continue to collaborate. They will look for opportunities to do this as a whole company, both online and in-person, in the future.
The goal of an asynchronous work culture is not to eliminate all types of synchronous interactions. But synchronous communication should only be implemented where it provides a benefit for employees and the company.
We are not robots – to create more flexible, focused, and healthier work environments for everyone, we need to optimize the current way of working. Driven with the belief that asynchronous-first remote communication is the future of work, we created FindAsync: to help workers from all over the world discover their dream job no matter their time zone or schedule, and async companies to find the right talent. We are excited to see this shift evolving, and the work culture become an inclusive, fair, and sustainable environment for workers.
We would love to hear from you: if you have any questions or thoughts on asynchronous-first communication, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com or leave us a message within our contact form.
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