Communicating in a remote work environment can be tricky, especially if you or your organization have recently made the switch from in-person to remote work.
Adjusting to a long day of webcam meetings when you’re used to being able to pop your head into a coworker’s office often seems exhausting, and feels less connected.
Asynchronous communication to the rescue!
What is asynchronous communication? It’s just a fancy way of saying communication that doesn’t have to happen in real-time.
Asynchronous communication allows us to set our own schedules and answer messages on our own time, without having to wait on the availability of others.
Remote work offers many new challenges, but asynchronous communication methods help you stay connected with your coworkers and make sure that everything is running smoothly, regardless of location, time zone, or at-home distractions.
Here are five examples of asynchronous communication that will keep your remote office on track for success.
1. Project management tools
There are a variety of online tools to help keep your team’s tasks organized and visible. Products like Asana and Trello help eliminate confusion by displaying your tasks on a board, so everyone knows what’s stalled, in progress, or completed without having to send dozens of messages back and forth.
These tools also have features like tags and subtasks that can help group assignments into specific projects.
It’s much easier to work asynchronously when teammates have a concrete visual display of exactly who is working on what.
2. Your organization’s wiki or Sharepoint site
Having a well-organized and up-to-date wiki or Sharepoint site makes communication much easier, especially when you have a larger team or organization. Use it as a hub for important documents, company guidelines, directories, and more.
This is especially important for asynchronous work because even if a teammate isn’t online, an employee can find answers to most general questions and locate documents needed to complete their work without having to wait on someone else’s email or message.
Similarly, if you’re the traditional keeper of that knowledge, your inbox isn’t constantly flooded with the same questions over and over and over.
3. Informational or instructional videos
Ever been in a meeting that could have been an email? Of course. We all have. But email has its own limitations! People tend to scan long blocks of text, so important information might be missed. And, it’s often hard to get tone and intent from plain text. It’s also impossible to have face to face conversations when you send an email.
So, instead of sending a lengthy email or requiring employees to be online at the same time for a video call to relay new information, consider a different form of communication. I suggest making an informational and instructional video and sharing it for teammates to watch on their own time!
Not only does this method provide more flexibility, it also allows employees to watch the content as many times as they need to understand the material. They can also go back and reference it later.
And, video is just inherently more engaging than text. Plus, your employees prefer it (and they retain the information better).
Oh, and contrary to what you might think, you do not need to be a video pro to make really great videos.
Need some inspiration? Here are eleven types of videos you can make right now.
4. Quick reference guides
Odds are, your coworkers will need you to explain a task more than once. If you’re not online at the same time, tasks can be delayed. Creating quick reference guides to explain tasks and answer basic questions that are likely to pop up offers more flexibility for your audience and ensures that the information is easy to understand.
Plus, when they need a refresher, they can always go back to your handy guide for review.
This will reduce the need for clarifying messages and eliminate the back-and-forth messages that might otherwise happen when coworkers aren’t available in the office across the hall.
5. Screenshots with markup
Want a quick and easy way to asynchronously give feedback on a project or piece of content? Take a screenshot and add annotations or markup.
For example, you’re browsing your company’s website one day and discover one of your product pages has old or outdated information.
Sure, you could shoot someone an email and explain what page, where on the page, and what needs to be changed, but with a single screenshot, you plainly and easily show all of that information.
No need for a meeting, or wordy emails or text chats, etc.
See how our feedback is clearly visible?
Not only can coworkers see what needs to be changed, but the screenshot shows the page address and where on the page the outdated content is.
There you have it!
You’re armed with some great tools and ideas for asynchronous communication. And you don’t have to rely on written communication to interact with your remote team members.
Some can even function as synchronous or hybrid methods as well. For example, while direct messages and text messages can be done in real time, you may not be available to answer a colleague’s question right away.
The same is true of messages left in tools like Slack or email. People can choose to answer them right away or when they’re available.
With these asynchronous communication tips in mind, you and your organization will make remote work easier and more flexible than ever.