Remote teams: what is asynchronous communication and how to master it?

Jan 31, 2024
Remote teams: what is asynchronous communication and how to master it?

For companies, remote work is not just synonymous with flexibility. It erases borders and gives them access to a formidable talent pool. Teams can be made up of the very best, whether they're based in Europe, Asia, Africa, America or Oceania. However, not all of them share the same time zone. So how do you get them to work together? 

That's where asynchronous communication comes in. It refers to any communication that does not take place in real time. In other words, it doesn't involve an immediate response. In other words, it takes place on a deferred basis. This is the exact opposite of synchronous communication, which involves the use of real time. As asynchronous communication is of paramount importance for remote companies, here are our tips for mastering it.


Understanding asynchronous communication

  1. A multiplicity of digital tools

Asynchronous communication is not the preserve of a single medium. E-mail is perhaps the oldest example of this model in our digital world. But since then, the possibilities have diversified. Tools such as Jira pu Trello, for example, allow you to discuss tasks in progress, making it easier to keep track of files and progress. Platforms such as Google Workspace or Microsoft Teams facilitate collaboration on shared projects without the need for simultaneous presence. 

  1. Better focus on work 

With this preamble in mind, what are the benefits of asynchronous communication? Let's put it this way: you've got a complicated task ahead of you. It demands your full concentration, and the deadline is approaching. But now you're bombarded with questions and requests for an almost immediate response, according to your interlocutors. Not so with asynchronous communication, since there's no need to respond "live". So you can minimize interruptions and really concentrate on the hard work you have to do.

  1. A documented process

Because asynchronous communication is largely based on the written word, it leaves traces, and all the better for it. Team members can refer to this information at any time.  This means they can always keep up to date with discussions and decisions if necessary. Indeed, shared documents and other task-tracking tools literally act as repositories of permanently available information.

  1. Responsibility and autonomy

Autonomy is one of the most important features of remote workers. Asynchronous communication finds an almost natural outlet here. It gives individuals the freedom to manage their workflow, prioritize tasks and respond to messages at their own pace. In this context, autonomy and responsibility (as is often the case) go hand in hand.


Remote work: how to master asynchronous communication

Mastering asynchronous communication is essential for remote teams to operate seamlessly and efficiently.

  1. Concise, informative messages

These can be two contradictory objectives. In fact, conciseness and precision don't always go hand in hand. That's why you need to learn how to structure your messages logically, so as to convey essential information effectively. To do this, put yourself in the recipient's shoes. This is the best way to ensure that your message is comprehensible and usable.

  1. Define your expectations and deadlines

Asynchronous communication is not communication with infinite response times. Efficiency demands it. So you need to clearly define the urgency of your message and the expected response. This will ensure understanding by all team members and help minimize any misunderstandings.

  1. Dealing with time zones

You'll also need to take into account the fact that the person you need at 4 p.m. is asleep at 2 a.m. in his country. That's why anticipation can play a vital role in asynchronous communication. Use the scheduling features in your communication tools to send your messages during your recipients' working hours. This will guarantee faster response times.

  1. Control mechanisms

To ensure that everyone is moving forward at the same pace, despite the dispersal of remote teams, set up regular control mechanisms. The aim is to check on the status of tasks in progress, the progress made, and to identify potential obstacles so that they can be solved.

Understanding all the subtleties of asynchronous communication is a must for remote teams. It is the only way to leverage its benefits effectively.