Gone are those days when your colleagues would drop in at your desk and ask “Hi, do you have a minute?” Ever since the pandemic struck, most of us are working virtually and face-to-face interactions were quickly replaced by instant message and audio calling. Now, the big question is: Do we want to return to the previous synchronous, real-time communication again?
The answer is an emphatic “No”. Even after the pandemic is over, a quarter of the world’s workforce will never return to work in the office. In this changed world, employees will no longer be in the physical space as they were before. When we are in the virtual work environment, relying on synchronous communications is neither efficient nor effective. Synchronous communication is real-time and if some of your colleagues try to contact you via email, instant messaging or audio calling, you will be under tremendous pressure not just to respond but respond immediately. This gets very difficult especially if people are working in different time zones. Besides in the pandemic people got used to working at different hours balancing their responsibilities at home with those at work. In these circumstances meeting expectations of synchronous communication are difficult.
Since work has now migrated online it has increased the number of people we need to interact with. When we interact face-to-face, we can interact with only a small group of people, but when we now work online, suddenly the entire globe appears to be within our reach at any given time.
Though there are a lot of tools of synchronous communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Flock, RocketChat, Google Chat etc, the common grouse against these tools is you can get stuck in long and never-ending group chats that demand your attention 24/7. It puts pressure on you to be online & available all the time.
Also, since team members mostly use group channels and not specific topics to chat, context gets lost and information gets buried. In order to avoid the stress that group chat creates, many team members resort to direct chat, which creates information silos and knowledge opacity. Besides, these tools only focus on chats but the information is shared in many other ways such as emails, online documents and social media among others. There is no way to bring active conversations from all these other forms in chat channels.
This situation creates a lot of pressure for everybody in the team. Making a shift to asynchronous communication takes away a lot of pressure to respond immediately, and it makes business communication more efficient.
Though asynchronous communication does not happen in real-time and it is much slower, it is more thoughtful. It helps us focus more on the issues and take better business decisions that benefits the company in the long run. So, teams can be much more productive when they use an asynchronous tool like Clariti.
Clariti is one of the best workplace messaging tools that let users communicate asynchronously, without the compulsion to be online all the time. In Clariti, there are no ‘chat channels.’ There is no need to constantly track all the chats in the channels.
When you use Clariti, you can start a group chat with multiple Clariti users on a specific topic. Any Clariti user can start a group chat and add members as needed. However, unlike channels Clariti group chats are not rigid. Group members can be added and removed on the fly. Clariti provides an option to add or remove participants from conference chats based on a need for their presence.
Existing members can be removed, and new members added based on the conversation flow. Your teammates have the freedom to include you in group chats when needed and remove you when your contribution is over. This way users are alerted to join a chat only when necessary. This ensures that you are never distracted by irrelevant messages throughout the day. Consequently, group members only get chat alerts on issues that are important to them. This helps you avoid unwanted messages from multiple groups, so you are not overloaded with too much unnecessary information.
Clariti also provides an option to turn off notifications whenever you are busy with something else. When you use Clariti, all your team members will not be under pressure to respond to every message immediately. This will help all your team members to be more thoughtful and less distracted while working.
Asynchronous communication allows you to provide more thoughtful feedback than answering queries on the fly. Asynchronous communication can also work better for team or project updates, collecting feedback, opinions, ideas or suggestions.
In the hybrid work environment where team members work part of the time from home and part of the time from the office, synchronous communication like Zoom meetings, and phone calls can be very effective. They are best substitutes for in-person meetings where the questions are asked in real-time and replies are expected instantly. Even these meetings can sometimes become asynchronous when recorded meetings are shared with other participants who did not attend the meeting.
Many people treat email to be a synchronous communication and expect instant replies to their emails. This can have a negative effect on the team as it affects their ability to focus on their core work. If somebody in the team starts expecting an instant response for every email, then all others will be constantly distracted by every new message that arrives and it will affect the entire team’s performance and productivity.
Companies can boost team productivity by allowing their team members to treat emails as asynchronous communication. When everybody in the team is aware of this, it will help every team member to reply to email thoughtfully, rather than immediately. The top management can set up a deadline within which every email has to be answered.
The same idea applies to texting as well. When you text someone regarding an important work-related task, your message might get buried under other messages. So, text messages should be used only when you want to communicate something without expecting any replies from them.
Even in the case of customer interactions, the customer service representatives are most of the time expected to provide instant replies to customer emails. But, instead of that, if they are given an option to reply to customer queries at their own pace, they will be able to provide thoughtful customer service that can solve problems.
When you want to discuss something that is truly urgent or time-sensitive, then you should choose synchronous communication. When you want to brainstorm some new idea with the team or thrash out some important issue with your colleague, then you can choose a group call or direct chat. But to get the best out of synchronous communication and make it non-intrusive, you need to first check with your team or your teammate about their availability. To get the best out of direct or group meetings, it will be always better to let them know about the agenda in advance and ask them to prepare accordingly.
Synchronous and asynchronous communication can both make or break the team. Teams cannot follow synchronous communication blindly and try to be available in real-time to all other colleagues and clients. This will put a lot of pressure on the team and burn them out.
Making a conscious shift to asynchronous communication will relieve the pressure on the team and make way for thoughtful decisions and better productivity. In this hybrid work environment, one type of communication will not suit all and the entire team should be given guidance as to which type of communication they should choose under the given circumstances.