The Benefits of Asynchronous Team Communication

Why is asynchronous team communication important? How does this type of communication facilitate deeper thinking?

According to Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, many organizations hurt their employees’ productivity by creating a culture in which they’re expected to constantly check their messages. They also must be aware of the discussion going on in real-time chatrooms, but in reality, this isn’t necessary.

Find out why asynchronous team communication is the better alternative in workplaces.

Embrace Asynchronous Communication

The threat of missing important information frightens employees into perpetually keeping tabs on all this synchronous communication—at the expense of their personal responsibilities.

To avoid this, the authors recommend relying primarily on asynchronous team communication rather than real-time communication in the workplace. If someone needs to share important information, they shouldn’t just post it in a chatroom and assume that everyone will see it. Instead, they should create a permanent document that relevant team members can consult whenever they want. This way, workers are free to ignore real-time chats and concentrate on their work, trusting that they can seek out necessary information later. That said, if you need to communicate something urgent, real-time chat may be the right tool for the situation.

(Shortform note: In Indistractable, Nir Eyal agrees that real-time chat in the workplace often pressures employees into distracting themselves from substantial work. If you need to use real-time chat (perhaps for urgent matters), consider scheduling an urgent, time-limited chat meeting to resolve the issue quickly, rather than having a prolonged, sporadic ongoing conversation. Additionally, like Fried and Hansson, Eyal suggests using permanent documents to share important information. However, he notes that particularly sensitive topics (such as necessary criticism of someone’s work) should be addressed in person so everyone involved can read the emotional tone and body language behind their coworkers’ words—nuances lost in written communication.)

Another benefit of asynchronous communication is that it facilitates deeper thinking, Fried and Hansson note. When employees share important information and seek collaborative input, they’ll receive more intelligent feedback if other team members have time to think deeply. In contrast, people at most companies present their ideas in real time (for instance, in an in-person meeting) and expect immediate feedback. Consequently, their colleagues’ underdeveloped first impressions compromise their ideas and decisions.

(Shortform note: In Working Backwards, former Amazon executives Colin Bryar and Bill Carr explain how Amazon developed a different way of facilitating deep thinking in communication between employees. Like Fried and Hansson, Bryar and Carr observed that real-time PowerPoint-style presentations prompted underdeveloped immediate feedback from the audience. Their solution was to replace verbal presentations in meetings with refined six-page documents delivering the necessary information. Then, at the beginning of each meeting, all participants would silently read through and take notes on the material at their own pace. This gave the audience enough time to think deeply about the ideas at hand before giving feedback.)

The Benefits of Asynchronous Team Communication

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  • How today's "hustle culture" ruins the lives of many
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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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