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Asynchronous communication doesn't always work πŸ“²β€

hrishikesh1990 profile image hrishikesh1990 Originally published at remote.tools ・2 min read

Asynchronous communication is key to remote work. You can't expect your teammates from across the world to be available exactly when you are free or respond to your messages immediately. Instead, the focus should be on working independently & responding thoughtfully through long-form messages when you get time.

However, a new HBR articleΒ suggests that asynchronous communication may not be the most effective way of remote collaboration and the focus should be on communicating synchronously in bursts and doing deep work at other times.

Communicating in bursts

A mixup between periods of high activity and those of little or no activity comes naturally to humans.

How to use this at work:

Do not view emails & messages as forms of asynchronous communication where you send something whenever you like & the other person responds whenever they are free.

Focus on audio & text, not video

The article claims that video communication isn't very great as people tend to focus more on visual cues & less on participation.

Focus on short, crisp messages & calls

You want to make sure there's a healthy, rapid exchange of messages during the bursty period rather than long moments of silence to think and respond.

What is bursty communication trying to solve?

  • Solves problems with loss of creativity & brainstorming caused by remote work.
  • Areas such as engineering need synchronous communication for problem solving.

Major challenges of bursty communication as compared to asynchronous communication

  • Finding common times daily is tough due to different locations and schedules.
  • Rapid exchange of short messages may result in superficial conversations.

Do you see any loopholes in this model or you think this will be a game changer? Let me know your thoughts on this!

I write regularly about remote work, tech & startups on Twitter. You can follow my updates there.

Discussion (1)

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sirseanofloxley profile image
Sean Allin Newell

Can you reword the model or point out the
overall thesis statement? I'm a little confused by what the model is and your suggestions to improve the state of affairs.