What do you honestly think of asynchronous communication?

Elle Werle
30 replies
In our traditional work world, we're used to meetings (video or not) where we all attend at the same time. However, in our new remote work world, asynchronous communication is taking hold. This happens when information is shared and people can respond and collaborate on their own time. (Here is an example: https://app.weet.co/play/707395d... ) Does sharing information asynchronously appeal to you? Do you like the idea of sharing info and waiting a few hours (or a day) for responses in exchange for the convenience of responding on your own time? Do you like the idea of not having to respond instantly? Do you think it's beneficial to have more time to "think on" big decisions and have more clarity before moving forward? I'm curious to know how readily you would adopt asynchronous communication. Any insights would be helpful 😎


Fabian Maume
Well i was already working on asynchronous mode for more than 3 years. Even when in office, I would send a slack message to people sitting next to meet, to not interrupt their current work with inquiries. In my opinion it is far more productive way of work, as you don't lose focus from unscheduled interruptions. You need synchronous communication from time to time for sure. A least for socialising purpose. I'm scheduling all synchronous meeting with Callendly, so it never interrupt my work routine.
Elle Werle
@fabian_maume I could not agree more, Fabian! Now that I've really adopted async communication I feel way more productive. But I definitely enjoy the social aspect of the occasional video meeting.
John Smith
I'm expecting the asynchronous com to stay post covid, with exception of the habit forming meeting like sprint standup & restrospective.
Welly Mulia
I use and prefer both, depending on the circumstances and the nature and urgency of the matter at hand. If it's not urgent, asynchronous works fine. If it's urgent and important -- e.g. something in our app is broken and needs to be taken care of now because if it's not, customers are not able to use our app -- then I prefer synchronous. I think there's a place for both to coexist.
Vladimír Seman
there is definately a space for both, synchronous and asynchronous communication. unfortunately, most of the workers are pushed into synchronous communication that is overused in genearal. it is great for important meetings like planning and sprints. but do we really need to respond immediately on every message? it reminds me notifications on my phone that i all turned off few years ago. asynchronous communication requires shift in thinking. i hope we have more of it in future, as that would lead into more focused work. ps: maybe 1 day for a response is a bit long time, but few hours is all right.
Elle Werle
@vladojsem You are so right that async communication requires a shift in thinking! I just completed that shift, and I'm glad I kept my mind open and tried it because I love it.
Brendan Weinstein
Async communication apps, specifically Yac Allow me to be far more productive during deep work times and also has saved me several hours per week not having to coordinate schedules for meetings or calls. Can’t wait for async voice apps to replace the phone call as a primary form of auditory communication.
Molly O'Neill
Definitely see asynchronous communication continuing. It's great for all the between meetings work that needs to go on.
Nico Spijker
Asynchronous by default, synchronous when needed is how we've been working so far. I find it interesting how on a lot of places you get the idea that you have to choose between one of the two, combining them takes a bit getting used to in the beginning but is definitely doable.
Dagobert Renouf
It's not so much that I love asynchronous, as much as I hate having to do things at a set time and date. It's a flow and inspiration killer, and makes me feel trapped. So Asynchronous all the way!
Kenzo Fong
I think you need both synchronous and asynchronous ways of communicating. Asynchronous should be the default for distributed teams as to your point it allows people to follow up when they get to it (especially important when you're not in the same office, country, timezone). Synchronous communication should then be reserved for the most important/complex discussions where face-to-face or voice is still the best way of communicating. The problem with most tools today is that it's either/or and it's also really up to the team and user to use the tool the "right" way. Slack can be used asynchronously but in most cases the expectation is that people will respond right away and the product is also not really set up for asynchronous. Slack channels usually get pretty chaotic with multiple people talking about different things at the same time so if you don't follow along in real-time it's more difficult to make sense of things once you get back on Slack. If you then really want to discuss something asynchronously you then end up creating a doc, task, etc. which is not ideal either.
Brandyn Morelli
We all use asynchronous communication (Slack, email, Trello, Asana) daily. I think the real change is going to be video. As an agency owner / consultant, the biggest limitation of my time is having my day blocked out by Zoom calls. There are definitely times when synchronous meetings make sense, but there are just so many meetings where you're waiting for 45 minutes to an hour just to get one piece of information. That waste multiplies exponentially by the # of attendees as well. I actually built a product Grapevine 2.0, for this exact reason. TL;DR - Meetings are coming back post COVID, but there's a huge opportunity to reduce the amount of meetings & Zoom's were all in, using Async updates (Video, Slack, Productivity Tools, etc.)
Justin Buchanan
IHMO the benefit of asych comms is that it empowers people to work with their own workflows and it allows opportunity to think more/research before responding. But, I think one of the big downsides is that it doesn't usually allow for quick follow-ups, clarifying questions, etc. I usually get most of my helpful information not from the top-level communication, but drilling into the conversation. Another challenge with asych is that it happens to take place too often via text-not voice/face-to-face. I think that opens the room for too much interpretation, assumptions, miscommunication, as long as taking like... 5x as long.
Dane Lyons
I'm in favor of async communication. I've always found sync communication to be painfully slow and disruptive to productivity.
Chris Dancy
It's destroyed the world. We treat our relationships like Netflix. See my book from 2018.
Elle Werle
@chrisdancy1 Interesting! I was not expecting this! What is your book?
Hunter Carter
Asynchronous communication is not a great fit for everything, but it is great for work environments that value autonomy and the fabled "work-life" balance - it takes the pressure to respond off the individual, leaves it to them to determine when to engage.
Samnoon Haider
I love this question. To me, the important thing is for organizations to have clear policies and set expectations for when colleagues should be communicating asynchronously and how often they should meet for synchronous communication. I do think most organizations overuse synchronous communication and waste a lot of people's times. Asynchronous communication has the benefit of allowing each person to respond at their own convenience. However, when discussing complex issues that need to be hashed out with input from both sides, asynchronous communication can quickly make a mountain out of a mole hill. When I did my software engineering bootcamp, and we were having issues with our projects, we had to communicate asynchronously. The instructors would often respond with a bunch of very generic and open ended questions, even though the issue could've been solved probably in five minutes face-to-face.
Elle Werle
@samnoon_haider Agreed! And not only should orgs set expectations, but they need to "walk the walk" and actually adhere to them. When I worked in Silicon Valley they talked sooooooo much about prioritizing work/life balance, but the truth was that my boss wouldn't allow us to have any. We had to be connected at all times. So I'm really grateful and embracing this async thing 😎 I agree that when direct questions are involved it can be easier to have a quick chat in real time!
Daniel Nikolovski
Has it's ups and downs. One one hand it's helpful when everyone can't attend. On the other hand you can't really brainstorm anything with the others
Elle Werle
@danneniko Luckily the apps and platforms for async are improving rapidly -especially post pandemic- to provide a much more collaborative experience! I actually work on a team building an app like this https://beeweet.com/
Mr Ethar Alali
Definitely prefer it! Formally been running it 6 years, having done it for most of my career as much as I could. If people are expecting to get responses during working hours, they have no chance. Partly because I prefer to finish tasks, but also because I may be in other calls. Plus, sync communication blocks everyone and delays the person needing my help if they don't just put at least the first request in an email or chat. Since asking to meet, not getting hold of me, then getting hold of me to arrange a meeting, to then have the meeting and get the info could be 5 days. Put what you need in an email or chat, I'll respond at whatever time of day.
Mariel Davis
Hey! Even though I'm a *huge* extrovert and love live discussions, it's just not feasible for a lot of teams now. Some communication needs to be done live. But a lot of it doesn't. If we can take the latter and put it in async, I think people will be more willing to 'show up' for the stuff that REALLY needs to be live. We actually launched Spokn, which helps companies make and share internal podcasts, today on Product Hunt for this exact reason. :) Our thought is that if something can be shared in async (think weekly updates, new hire announcements, strategy updates, big win announcements, etc), audio is an amazing format because it's so human and gives people a break from their screens. Would love to hear what you all think and a big thanks @elle for kicking off this convo! https://www.producthunt.com/post...
Matthew Wildrick Thomas
There are lots of benefits for asynchronous communication for things that aren't urgent.
Akash Tandon
There's value in coming together and having a discussion when it comes to alignment, brainstorming and the big picture. Do too much of it and you approach the land of unproductive endless meetings and constant interruptions. Asynchronous communication allows individuals to do deep work and think things through. Do too much it and disconnect can creep in. There has to be a balance, as some other commenters point out.