With increasing recurrence, teams connected remotely. However, this is a recent trend and the companies, still with some difficulties, are experimenting with solutions that work for their team.
Those who work remotely often experience communication problems because when a clear communication project is missing, the team easily have problems such as:
• ❌ lack of a general work plan;
• ❌ lack of a department work plan;
• 😥 difficulty in combining their activities with those of other team members;
• 😥 difficulty following the conversations of the department and the company;
• 😥 difficulty in not losing all information if using fast communication systems;
• 😥 difficulty perceiving what others are doing;
• 😥 difficulty understanding the commitment that everyone puts into the job;
• 😥 difficulty in coordinating the work with the different time zones;
• 😥 difficulty in interpreting what others want to say since body language is missing;
• 📉 the tendency not to feel involved in the project;
• 📉 the tendency not to consider the project as its own (and therefore to have a lower level of commitment).
Teams must, therefore, develop compensation mechanisms by choosing suitable tools to overcome these problems. If you make the right choices, you can’t only solve these problems but also get better productivity results.
In order to better design the communication plan, it is essential to understand the difference between synchronous communication and asynchronous communication. These are two types of communication that have a different impact on team productivity!
By synchronous communication, we mean any type of communication that takes place in real-time and in which the questions and answers between the interlocutors are formulated and given immediately.
Asynchronous communication means any type of communication that does not take place in real-time and, therefore, the answers are not given immediately.
There is a definition we like penned by Zach Holman of GitHub 🗣️:
Asynchronous communication means I can take a step out for lunch and catch up on transcripts when I get back. Asynchronous communication means I can ask my coworker a question in-chat and not worry about bothering her since she’ll get back to me when she’s available. Asynchronous communication means I can go to rural Minnesota and feel like I’m working from the office like normal.
Below you will find a summary table about the difference between an asynchronous and asynchronous communication
|Synchronous communication ⏱️
Users are connected at the same time
Audio and video conferencing
|Asynchronous communication 💭
Users are not online at the same time
Discussion groups and topic threads
Probably if you have a team that works remotely you use a mix between the two forms of communication. Despite the many criticisms that synchronous communication tools are receiving, we believe it is important to understand the right way in which to balance synchronous and asynchronous communication. In fact, these two types of communication meet different needs!
We must never forget that our colleagues are people and, as such, they have the needs that all people have: to have a “physical” contact that creates familiarity with the people with whom we relate. Synchronous communication in this sense can be a great ally.
Synchronous communication, in fact, can help to:
• 💃 socialize and stay connected: synchronous communication is fast and allows people to immediately confront each other on certain topics. However, this type of communication also leaves room for informal speeches that allow the team to socialize and get to know each other better. In fact, those who work remotely often feel a strong sense of loneliness due to the conditions in which they work. The tools that allow an immediate flow of communication such as Slack for chats or Zoom for video calls certainly manage to reduce this sense of solitude;
• 📹 make meetings: meeting in writing would not be easy. Imagine not being able to use tools like Zoom and having to put everything in writing. Does it seem crazy to you? In fact, it would be at least a little strange. The convenience of video calls allows you to reproduce the environment of a real meeting room where everyone’s moods are interpreted and the body language of those present can be read. This type of tool allows you to recover the “collective dimension that would otherwise be lost”. 1: 1 meeting is also useful, indeed they are very important because they allow you to create a deep interaction with every single member of the group. It would be useful for the whole team that the calls were shared with the group or with the department;
• 🏃♂️ overcome difficult conversations: as we have already said, societies are made up of people who bring all the typical complexity of the human being into their work. For this reason, it is not surprising that misunderstandings or frictions often arise. To resolve these issues and overcome difficult conversations, it would certainly be more appropriate to use synchronous communication tools which allow people to compare and clarify their position;
• 🖥️ hold meetings on important topics: during the life of a company, there are numerous difficult moments that need to be addressed. On these occasions, it is necessary that the coordination of the team is maximum and that there is a good predisposition to solve the problem. To find the best solution it is necessary to investigate, speak and discuss. These activities can be done better, for example, during a meeting in which the key aspects of the issue immediately emerge;
• 🤝 meet personally to live experiences together: another element not to be underestimated is that of meetings. Team spirit is not an innate thing and like all good habits, it is necessary to exercise it. We need to stipulate the team to interact and create relationships.
• 🚨 overcome emergency situations: life in a society is never peaceful and emergencies can suddenly arise. To allow a quick definition of the emergency, it is certainly appropriate to use tools that allow immediate communication with team members. If it is a matter of urgent measures, the delay could be fatal.
However, improper use of asynchronous communication can lead to a series of problems that can have a strong impact on team productivity. Among which:
• 😡 constant interruptions;
• 📉 consider it more important to be connected than to be productive;
• 😔 increase a lower quality of discussions and suboptimal solutions;
• 💥 make meetings and calls even when it is not necessary.
Asynchronous communication allows members to have time before responding. A timely response is not required. A team that chooses this type of communication, therefore, does not have to be present at the same time. This is very effective communication especially if team members are in different parts of the world and, depending on the area in which they are located, they can respond in 1, 2 or 10 hours.
For a more in-depth examination, please refer to the article Team’s communication: why asynchronous is better, while here we limit ourselves to pointing out some aspects:
• 🔥 deep work and focus: synchronous communication makes noise, while asynchronous communication creates around you the silence necessary to be able to concentrate and work. When a notification arrives you don’t have to rush to see who is writing and what to reply. The only thing to do is to continue working, finish your work and then concentrate on the questions taking all the time necessary to reflect and think.
• 🖖 context matters: fast communication very often leads to mistakes in exposing one’s opinions. By writing like in a normal chat you can create many misunderstandings. On the other hand, when members have enough time to think about their answers and correct them if they are not adequate, many occasions of misunderstanding are avoided and this contributes to creating an excellent work environment in which productivity prevails over excessive communication.
• 💬 discussions: a very useful tool in remote communication only discussions. Have you ever started a conversation that went on for days and days and then you couldn’t find the important data anymore? In the past, this has often happened to us at Teami and for this reason, we have inserted a special space for discussions within our product. With this method, in fact, we have solved all those problems related to the loss of important data within a discussion because in this way we are able to put together all the important data relating to a project and monitor its evolution. Discussions can be made on any topic you want to keep track of. Try this way of communicating on www.teami.io, you will realize the difference.
• 📊 collaboration and productivity: people should not focus on connecting with others but on collaborating with their peers and on productivity. A good collaboration with companions can be built in this way because the sharing of essential but sufficient information to understand the state of work and the evolutions that have occurred can be (and, in fact, it is) much more effective than many words that can create disorder.
We at Teami have experimented with both solutions. From personal experience, we can say that the most efficient communication strategy was based on the balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication. With our meetings, we have not lost human contact and with our written and targeted communication, we have experienced an increase in productivity.
If you want to know more about how we organize our work (tools, logistics, timing, etc.) or you have additional information’s, it will be a pleasure for us to update our article with your information. Write an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for more information on our communication tool? Discover more about Teami <3