Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication: Definition & Examples

No matter the tool or your ability as a communicator, you can’t build the same type of deep connections with people asynchronously. These days, with countless async communication tools at our disposal, there’s a lot we can get done asynchronously. But, there are still some situations when having real-time interactions can’t be replaced. Synchronous communication is the exchange of information between 2 or more people in real-time.

Some organizations prefer one over the other, although successful companies choose a blended approach to get the best of both worlds. The Meeting Manifesto—which was shared company-wide—explains when and how to schedule meetings. Within the manifesto, we also go into details about when you shouldn’t have a meeting—things like sharing status updates or other general information, or meetings without an agenda or purpose. Communicating in real time is a great way to connect with your co-workers and solve immediate problems. But this form of communication also has some significant disadvantages, which can get in the way of your team’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Agile meeting templates

If you’re managing remote employees and all conversations are happening async, make sure to also make some time for face-to-face interaction to make them more comfortable and feel like part of the team. Depending on how your team currently does things, people may schedule meetings by default. If necessary, list and share types of communication that should happen synchronously vs. asynchronously. When in doubt, team members can reference this list to schedule—or cancel—meetings. Asynchronous work gives team members the time and space to focus on skilled work. But the true benefit of asynchronous communication comes when you can leverage collaboration to get the most out of your time at work.

Slab is a robust knowledge base tool that allows you to organize company documents, hiring checklists, leave policies, previous project records, etc., on a common platform accessible to all your employees. Use it to add due dates to every task, so your teammates know the deadlines. It eliminates the need for real time communication while helping you accomplish all tasks on time. It enables any remote team member or team leader to share an immediate response or relevant work files with their colleagues. For instance, if you want to share a new project brief, you’d arrange a virtual or physical meeting where the entire team is present simultaneously. Another example of sync communication is a brainstorming session, where the team ideates and collaborates in real time.

Time zone differences

Synchronous communication, on the other hand, is all about real time communication. It is a type of communication that happens on the phone, in person, or on a video call. If workers are always definition of asynchronous communication engaged in real-time communication, then they have no control over their schedules. Rather than setting their own agendas and being productive, your team spends the day responding to requests.

The problem is that many people treat asynchronous tools like synchronous ones. Generally, we recommend reserving synchronous communication for situations where gauging emotions and building rapport are more critical than technical outcomes. Don’t get us wrong—there are plenty of situations where synchronous communication is the superior choice. For managers, the ability to “read the room” is best supported by observing their team members in real-time.

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