In the past decades, employees typically traveled to offices to work together. This in-person work environment primed synchronous collaboration - when two or more parties meet at the same time, normally in the same location, face-to-face, over the phone, or on video.
As the world has gone remote in 2020, teams were forced to deal with team members not sitting right next to each other or even adjusting to collaborate with co-workers in completely different time zones. Since the complexity of work doesn’t decrease when people are remote, workers have had to find new ways to fit the same amount of work in less synchronous time. Therefore, mastering workflows asynchronously has been a topic catapulted in companies’ daily workflows when trying to maintain productivity during the pandemic. Asynchronous communication is the art of communicating without the need for the other team members to be available at the same time and place. For instance, sending a message to a colleague on the other side of the globe updating them about progress and receiving an answer when they start working again.
The status quo of remote work
As the workforce becomes more familiar with remote work, the reliance on synchronous communication tools has continued to dominate collaboration globally. Presumably, the reason for this has been the sudden shift from full-time “on-site” to full-time remote work, prompting teams to simply replicate their in-office experience without thinking about reimagining the way they work. This has led the day-to-day of millions to consist of countless Zoom meetings and cluttered calendars in the hope of recreating the “always in touch” office environment.
Since most current workspace tools were developed during a time where remote was more of the exception than the rule, they are heavily catered to synchronous office communication. For instance, Zoom is meant to be used for remote synchronous collaboration. Other tools are also being repurposed to work asynchronously. For example, Google Docs was initially a real-time collaborative writing document that has turned into an asynchronous idea board/meeting preparation tool/general notepad.
Problems with moving to asynchronous tools
The current issue is that organizations operate remotely, but their mentality is still “on-site”. The question is how teams can adjust to a remote-first mindset and utilize asynchronous tools instead of synchronous ones. If successful, this shift in mindset and tooling will enable organizations to operate sustainably in a full or hybrid remote work environment in the coming years.
Although we believe in the power of written communication for multiple reasons, we do feel that the transition from synchronous to asynchronous shouldn’t mean every person has to become an avid writer and reader overnight. That being said, we also believe that solely focusing on written communication leaves lots of room for miscommunication and misinterpretation, while removing personal interaction from collaboration.
The future and its tools are asynchronous
Clearly, in order to strive in the new world of remote work and asynchronous communication, new tools are needed to enable frictionless communication and seamless collaboration between teams. This new generation of tools will provide teams with all the benefits of asynchronous communication but also maintain the personal aspect of communication and be well structured and better documented at its core.
As this is our vision for the future of work, we are building Acapela, an asynchronous meeting platform at the forefront of this transition. Conversations are meant to entail personal touches, not leaving space for unnecessary misunderstanding all the while being more structured and easier to relive than typical in-person meetings.
Curious to learn more about asynchronous communication?
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