Future of work trends: asynchronous communication



Last week, our associate partner, Rik Mulder, started a blog series about trends in internal communications and digital collaboration. Unsurprisingly, the first blog post covered hybrid working, and it came with a warning – the laissez-faire approach we often see is not viable long-term.

The remainder of this series will cover important points to consider while designing and developing new hybrid ways of working.

Synch or async? That is the question!

Hybrid working obviously changes how we communicate, as we are no longer always together in the workplace. It is essential to reach a clear agreement on how to communicate and which tools to use.

The lockdowns forced most organisations to hastily introduce digital collaboration platforms such as MS Teams, but mostly only for video calls and chat. It proved a shock to the system: since COVID, we are in (online) meetings for twice as long and receive 50% more chat messages. No wonder many of us are experiencing tech fatigue!

Video calling is synchronous communication, with everyone participating at the same time. We usually experience chat in the same way, with its annoying beeps and incessant notifications. For many purposes, asynchronous communication would work much better. The lion’s share of meeting time is spent on information exchange and updating each other. That can all be done asynchronously, for example, in posts on a collaboration platform.

Even asking questions often works much better asynchronously, such as in a community of practice with experts. Asking questions asynchronously allows everyone to carefully consider their answer, in their own time. And those answers remain available for the next colleague with the same question.

Recommendation

Hybrid working calls for clear agreements on how teams and organisations communicate, and on which tools to use. To reduce wasteful meeting time, it is often wise to consider asynchronous communication. Collaboration platforms such as MS Teams, Yammer, and Workplace are ideal for this.

For every (recurring) meeting, ask yourself, “Is it necessary to interrupt my colleagues for this?” For coordination, discussion, or team building, the answer is a resounding yes. In other cases, asynchronous may well be the way to go.

Next trend up: remote on-the-job learning.

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