How to Use Asynchronous and Synchronous Communication with a Global Team

How to Use Asynchronous and Synchronous Communication with a Global Team

During this period of unprecedented change, there’s been a global shift in how business is done. In recent years, professional norms have inched toward adopting distributed teams. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, and remote workers are not only more commonplace, but they’re also fully embraced in many offices.

It seems that remote work is here to stay. More than 60% of hiring managers say their workforce will be more remote moving forward, and there are tremendous advantages to building a remote workforce. For starters, you’re no longer bound by geography and will have a wider pool of qualified talent to consider. With workers spread across time zones, you’ll also have better and longer daily coverage for your business.

For effective collaboration, remote teams and their leaders need to weigh all their communication options. With professionals spanning time zones, you’ll want to use both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods for the best results.

  • Asynchronous communication: This communication method takes place between two or more individuals without requiring them to be present at the same time and doesn’t require an immediate reply. Email is a great example of asynchronous communication.
  • Synchronous communication: This style of communication between two or more team members takes place in real time. With synchronous communication, you would expect an immediate reply. Video conference calls are a form of synchronous communication.

When you have a distributed team, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some specific scenarios certainly warrant one method over the other. As your team navigates the waters of remote work, check out these helpful tips on how and when to use asynchronous and synchronous communication within a globally distributed team.

Asynchronous communication: Keys for a global team

If you’re building a distributed team of workers, you know that everyone might not be available at the same time. Asynchronous communication methods, like email and collaborative project management tools, make it easy to connect despite the time differences. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re doing it right.

Evaluate how you spend your time

We’ve all been there: the hour-long meeting that gets to its scheduled end-time and somehow keeps going. Often, these meetings could be best conveyed by email.

Even in the era of COVID-19 and remote work, meeting madness is still a problem for many teams. In fact, with improved video conferencing tools, the scheduling of unnecessary meetings is sometimes exacerbated as people frantically try to stay connected.

For a more efficient workday, though, take a good, hard look at how your team spends its time. How many of your meetings could be replaced by emails? Emails are excellent ways to disseminate information and request feedback without wasting time.

Set clear deadlines

For asynchronous communication to work, it’s important to set clear deadlines on all platforms. Let people know when you’d like to hear from them.

If you send an email to a team member who might not log in to work until after you’re done for the day, include a deadline for your response. Then, follow up if that deadline isn’t met.

Many project management tools, which are task-oriented, offer deadline management features to keep all team members on track—no matter when they’re working.

Clearly convey your needs

Writing clear, concise messages—on all platforms that your team uses—is key to successful asynchronous communication. If your thoughts are muddied and ambiguous, that will confuse your team members and result in unnecessary back-and-forth responses.

So, before you hit send, read through your email or message. Does it convey everything you’d hoped? Also, use bullet points or sections to make your email easier to understand.

Respond with detailed information

When your remote team members send questions via email or ask for project updates, take the time and care to craft a detailed response. Those extra few minutes to respond in depth could save you time down the road.

Dashing off a quick response might seem like you’re getting the job done, but a fast reply means it’s likely you missed an important piece of information. By not including everything your team members need to know, you’re setting off a chain of emails back and forth. This isn’t an effective use of anyone’s time, as it slows down productivity.

Know when to schedule a meeting

Asynchronous communication isn’t ideal for every scenario. No matter how convenient email might be, it can’t always replace video meetings or phone calls.

Have a quick question? Want to send over a document a team member might need? Want to make sure something’s in writing? Send an email.

Want to brainstorm with your teammates or discuss a project launch? Or maybe you’re included in a confusing email chain? Setting up a meeting or picking up the phone is the easiest way to clear it all up.

Synchronous communication: Keys for a global team

To work together effectively, your distributed team of workers will also need to use synchronous communication methods. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind to make the most of these tactics.

Limit the number of attendees

It’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation by video or phone with too many people in attendance. The discussion gets confusing, especially by phone, with too many on the call.

It’s easy for people to accidentally talk over each other or cut each other off. This is even sometimes a problem on the most well-developed apps with features that allow you to track and manage who’s speaking.

By inviting fewer people to attend a call or meeting, you’ll cut down on the confusion. And those who don’t need to be there will appreciate you leaving them off the invite list.

Record the call or meeting

Many video conferencing tools and even phone apps have features that allow you to record your meetings. You’ll often have the option of when you start recording and where you save the recording, either in cloud storage or on a specific device.

This comes in handy if you want to clarify something discussed after the meeting, and it also reduces the need for note-taking. Plus, the recording is available to those unable to attend but who might need the information.

Stick to an agenda

Before any virtual meeting, create an agenda—just like you would if you were meeting in person. This will make your time together more productive.

Seek input from all team members attending when setting the agenda. Include a list of questions you’d like answered, as well.

Many video conferencing apps include features that allow you to easily upload and share the agenda with attendees. If everyone has the agenda at their fingertips, your meeting will be more efficient.

Familiarize yourself with the features

Technology is constantly evolving, and there are plenty of video conferencing tools on the market. But do you know how to use them all?

Whichever your company chooses, familiarize yourself with its features before you start using it. This will cut down the need to troubleshoot and figure the technology out while you’re in the meeting.

There’s no need to waste everyone’s time if you can learn these tools in advance. Your team members will appreciate your knowledge of these programs and your ability to move a meeting along easily.

Send a follow-up email

After your virtual meeting or phone conversation, send a follow-up email to all involved. It doesn’t need to be too long. Simply thank everyone for attending, and review the most important takeaways from your meeting.

It’s an easy way to recap what you’ve discussed. This also establishes a space for further questions and ongoing discussion about the topic.

Access independent international talent

As the world and workforce change, remote workers are being embraced by companies across the globe.

Although your team of professionals might span many geographic locations and time zones, communication and collaboration won’t be a concern if you use a mix of asynchronous and synchronous methods and tools.

When you build your remote team, let Upwork help you find the talented workers you need to succeed. By using Upwork, you’ll tap into a global talent pool with the specialized skills you need to grow your business and build your brand.

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How to Use Asynchronous and Synchronous Communication with a Global Team
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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