Synchronous communication means that two or more people exchange information in real-time. In most workplaces communication happens that way and people expect real-time responses. The problem with this approach is that it is , in fact, not very effective.
It sounds counterintuitive. After all, what better way is there to stay on top of your game than addressing issues immediately. However, one survey has shown that over 71% of employees report frequent interruptions when working, which affects their productivity.
Just think about it for a second: you’re working on an important project with a tight deadline when a colleague walks into your office. He wants to see you to discuss the details of an upcoming event. You stop your work and waste 45 minutes talking about a project that is not immediately due.
Asynchronous communication refers to the exchange of data between two or more parties without the requirement for all the recipients to respond immediately.
For example, your colleague can leave you a message in a topic feed on status.net and not worry about disturbing you. You will read the information when ready, consume it, take your time to decide on it, and answer when you’re available. This approach frees both parties from the need to be synchronized.
Asynchronous communication is when two (or more) people can communicate without the requirement that they be “present” at the same exact moment in time.
Here are the components:
Asynchronous communication is not going to solve all your workplace communication woes. Like most areas of life, finding a balance is key.
For example, there are times when you might be communicating over Slack with a coworker and you feel like you’re not making any progress. They may have misunderstood what you were trying to say, which may cause conflict.
In these scenarios, we recommend jumping on a video or phone call. A major advantage to synchronous communication is that real-time nature gives you more data points to observe and process in the moment. For example, it’s tough to understand body language over an email or Slack, while it’s easier to tell in-person.
Synchronous communication is also helpful when you need to collaborate quickly (like brainstorming sessions). There are certainly times when a group of people being present unlocks better insights.