SYNC VS. ASYNC WORK, and does Slack really mean sync for you?

Margarita Shvetsova
5 replies
Hey Product Hunt, Last week I saw an inspiring product here on PH with the slogan "Future is async". I really loved the concept of working they suggest (keeping the employees from the burnout from the "always-on" mode, maintaining the peace of unplugging, and not interrupting the flow by constant pings), but the more I thought of it, the more questions I had. It's interesting that this product is positioned like "anti-Slack", so Slack with its green dots (the person is online) and notifications is for sync work, and this product is for async work. It's funny that our CEO once said we are a remote-first company because remote work allows you to be async (we use Slack, but the key element here is remote work concept, not the type of the tool). Working remotely you can reply to colleagues asynchronously, though I have to admit - sometimes constant Slack pings do make you reply ASAP, and it can destroy your productivity (has happened to me many times). But what should you do if your colleague's request is urgent, and you not replying ASAP results in somebody else's work slowed down? Also, isn't it annoying if you do need this answer now, and you can't even check if the person is online? These are questions I've been thinking about, and I don't have a good answer, as we need balance between not getting a burnout and getting things done FAST :) So what do you guys think of it? Would you prefer to work async or sync? Or is it like with office/remote work - the best option is hybrid? 😁


Archisman Das
Hybrid seems like the way forward. There is a downside of being completely async vs completely sync. Knowledge workers need extended periods of time to do deep work and it might be prudent either to agree on a common time or a protocols where each employee can set themselves in focus mode so that they don't get interrupted by slack messages, calls, or quick catch ups.
Margarita Shvetsova
@archisman_das thank you for your comment. I also feel neither completely async nor completely sync would work well. Sometimes if I am writing an article, I can turn off Slack not to get distracted :) but it's still a long way to the right balance between being helpful to colleagues and getting your own tasks done. The pressure of the mindset "if I am online and available, I am a good team player and I'm good at my work" 🙈
Junu Yang
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. We've been thinking a lot about asyn/sync as well. We think being able to switch fluidly as a team is important. Not expecting asap replies but when you are able to work sync, then allowing that to happen naturally. We wrote some more thoughts about it here -
Margarita Shvetsova
@junetic Hi Junu, thank you for your comment and the link! I've read your article and a lot of things from it resonate with me. I also think it depends a lot on the type of work the team is doing, and it will influence the sync/async balance (I guess). By the way, I was given this article, and I liked how they give examples on what activities are best for sync communication, and which ones - for async communication:
Michael Silber
It's already been said, but it bears repeating that it's all about expectations setting. Slack has a lot of great features to allow us to go heads-down for a few hours while allowing emergency bells to still come through if need be. If norms are consistent and adhered to, then I find it's a lot easier to mentally unload the lingering feeling of "not being a good worker" when I don't respond ASAP