Pings all day long: pros and cons of asynchronous communication
Buzz. A message from your colleague. Back to work. Buzz. Now a client is writing. Back to work. Oh, wait, did you forget what you’ve been doing?
Despite providing an urgent response, real-time communication might not always be the best way to be productive. Context switching could distract you when you need concentration the most. Switching to asynchronous communication might be beneficial in several ways.
If you haven’t been interrupted yet, keep on scrolling down to find out more!
Here are 5 benefits from asynchronous communication
1. More control over your workday
You choose whether you want to answer that email or slack message now or later. You can even choose time slots when you are available to others and when you won’t receive any notifications.
2. More time for deep work
Real-time communication might affect your focus. Context switching does not help either even though sometimes it might feel that it is super productive.
Activities, such as coding, writing, or strategizing demand high concentration for a long time. So if you have control over your workday, there is a higher chance that you’ll have more time for deep work. The absence of interruptions increases concentration and productivity.
3. Less pressure to respond immediately
If you know that the other party does not expect an immediate response, you feel more relaxed and less pressured.
4. Better communication
If you have time to reflect on the message you just received, there is a higher chance that your response will be more thoughtful and reflective.
When we speak directly, we respond spontaneously and sometimes miss the chance to self-reflect and express clear ideas. This results in confusing messages and a longer time to explain what you mean.
“Despite providing an urgent response, real-time communication might not always be the best way to be productive. Context switching could distract you when you need concentration the most.”
5. Ready to use guidelines and documentation
How many times have you complained to your friends or colleagues about “the meeting today that could have been an email”?
Internal company updates, various manuals, and documentation could be written down instead of arranging a live meeting. This would also be useful for those who are absent or new members of your team.
On top of that, written documentation creates more independence as it is available for everyone. So instead of pinging their colleagues for answers, your employees can find answers in the cloud.
Finally, documentation is a great way to avoid miscommunication and increase transparency.
3 Cons of asynchronous communication
Despite having so many pros, asynchronous communication also has some downsides. Here are a few of them:
1. Loneliness and detachment
As our head of community Marcus said, “in the office, the coffee machine is our community.” We stop by there, grab a coffee, chit-chat with a colleague, discuss news or the latest book we’ve read. Working remotely all of this is gone and many could feel detached from their teams. Engagement with your team is really important for team performance. However, with some extra thought and effort, this issue can be tackled thanks to technologies!
2. Lack of immediate response
While asynchronous communication is beneficial for individual productivity, it might take a longer time to solve some problems or receive important feedback. It requires patience and good time management skills, so you could focus on a different activity while waiting for your colleague’s insights.
3. Challenging during emergencies
There are situations when responses are needed here and now and therefore synchronous communication is your best shot.
All in all, we find more advantages for async comm than disadvantages. In the following post, we talk about synchronous communication and share inspiration for when to use each of these communication styles.