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Synchronous and asynchronous communication | TechSmith

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Synchronous and asynchronous communication |  TechSmith

What do asynchronous and synchronous communication mean and what are they suitable for?

In today’s modern working world, asynchronous and synchronous communication is becoming increasingly common. But what do these two terms mean? Where can examples of asynchronous communication be found? Do synchronous and asynchronous communication have certain advantages or even disadvantages? Read our blog post to learn more.


Asynchronous communication: concept, examples and application

What is asynchronous communication?

Examples of asynchronous communication

Advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous communication

Best practices for using asynchronous communication

Synchronous communication: concept, examples and application

What is synchronous communication?

Examples of synchronous communication

Advantages and disadvantages of synchronous communication

Best practices for using synchronous communication

What role does video play in asynchronous and synchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication: concept, examples and application

Even if you’ve never heard of asynchronous communication, you probably use it every day. Because asynchronous communication is considered a key success factor for the modern digital working world, but can also be found everywhere in today’s private communication.

What is asynchronous communication?

If conversation partners do not exchange information at the same time, this is referred to as asynchronous communication. It includes any type of communication in which the interlocutors are not present and need to be available at the same time. In asynchronous communication, no response is expected in real time to a message.

Examples of asynchronous communication

Although closely linked to today’s digital world, asynchronous communication has existed since there was the possibility of communicating via written records. Think of very old-fashioned letters, where we don’t expect an immediate reply from our counterpart.

Digital communication has once again multiplied the possibilities of communicating asynchronously. Examples of asynchronous communication include email, forum conversations, text messages and chats, recorded video messages, and notifications in project management tools like Asana or Trello.

Instant messaging, such as in Slack or Teams, can also be asynchronous communication if those involved exchange information across different time zones and no immediate response is expected.

Advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous communication

Asynchronous communication can bring many benefits:

+ It can increase productivity because the workflow does not have to be interrupted for meetings or the immediate answering of questions. Communicating asynchronously can support concentration and lead to better work results.

+ Since you don’t have to answer immediately, you have more time to think, inform and reflect and make better decisions.

+ It enables teams to work together across different time zones and therefore expands companies’ recruitment options and talent scouting.

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+ It offers employees the opportunity to work when they are most productive and combines flexible and hybrid working models with working in a team.

+ Because digital media is used for asynchronous communication, all communication can be captured and stored. Information cannot be lost in this way.

+ The stored information from the asynchronous communication can be retrieved at any time. Employees can view these at a time that suits them, also to refresh knowledge or to check previous project information, for example.

+ It accommodates employees who do not or do not often speak up in situations such as team meetings or discussions, although they have important contributions. Instead, these employees can asynchronously contribute their ideas as a text message or in a chat.

However, these advantages are offset by disadvantages of asynchronous communication such as:

– Sometimes an immediate response or solution to a problem is required that cannot be delivered via asynchronous communication.

– Responses can arrive too late or be forgotten entirely.

– Additional effort is required to store asynchronous communication content and make it traceable so that content is not lost or the references to messages are retained. A knowledge database or a suitable digital folder structure, for example, are suitable for this.

– It reduces interpersonal exchanges and face-to-face contact between employees and therefore requires compensatory team building activities to promote group dynamics and social aspects of work.

– Non-verbal interpersonal communication is lost in some tools for asynchronous communication, such as gestures, posture or the way of speaking.

Best practices for using asynchronous communication

For successful asynchronous communication, you should note the following:

Create internal company guidelines, which communication tool and which type of communication should be used for what. In this way you ensure that important problems or questions are not communicated asynchronously and that it is always clear which tool should be used for which content. For example, the following are suitable for asynchronous communication:

  • Project status reports and updates
  • Track and comment on tasks to be completed
  • feedback and corrections

So that your communication partners always know when they can expect an answer or reaction from you, you should clearly communicate your availability and working hours, for example in the chat profile, in the e-mail signature, as an absence note in the event of a longer absence or in the Status settings in messaging tools like Slack or Teams.

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In addition, create regular opportunities for synchronous communication, for example a weekly team meeting or stand-up for mutual exchange, to promote motivation and strengthen team spirit.

Synchronous communication: concept, examples and application

In everyday life and at work, synchronous communication prevailed for a long time. But what exactly does it mean and where can you find examples of synchronous communication in our working world?

What is synchronous communication?

The synchronous communication takes place in real time, which means that the interlocutors are present at the same time and an immediate answer is expected to a question or message.

Examples of synchronous communication

Synchronous communication includes all conversations in real time, both analogue and digital or virtual. So work meetings and team meetings, phone calls, video calls and video conferences and, with restrictions, chats and instant messaging in Slack or Teams, when everyone involved is present and an immediate response is expected.

Advantages and disadvantages of synchronous communication

Synchronous communication has the following advantages:

+ With it, problems and questions can be solved immediately and results can be delivered.

+ It promotes interpersonal communication, personal relationships between employees and teamwork.

+ It can therefore improve the effectiveness of teamwork and have a positive impact on work dynamics.

+ It can promote the development of joint ideas and creative solutions, since synchronous communication can be built directly on the ideas of employees and colleagues.

However, synchronous communication also has certain disadvantages:

– It requires an interruption of the workflow and can negatively affect concentrated work.

– It can shorten the productive work phases, for example if one meeting follows the next.

– It is not always expedient or expedient, for example if a meeting is held as standard, where an e-mail would have been sufficient for a project update, for example.

– The contents of synchronous communication are not always adequately documented or recorded, for example ideas and suggestions that arise during a meeting and are then lost.

– If a decision is made immediately after a conversation or meeting, it can be half-baked because not enough time was available.

Best practices for using synchronous communication

Define internal company criteria as to when synchronous forms of communication such as meetings should be used and for what. Encourage your employees and colleagues to only schedule meetings when they make sense. Also determine when and for what content meetings should not be held.

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It may be advisable to set one working day without meetings per week in order to give employees sufficient opportunity for productive and concentrated work. Additionally, encourage team members to decline meetings that do not add value to them or that do not require the requested employee to be present.

Clearly communicate working hours and availability for synchronous communication and block times for concentrated work when meetings, phone calls or video calls cannot be scheduled. At these times, notifications should be muted and the status set to Do Not Disturb in tools like Slack or Teams.

When planning meetings or conversations, make sure that they do not constantly interrupt the workflow, but instead follow one another with sufficient breaks, for example. Meetings should not deviate from the topic, there should be an agenda and concrete results should be noted.

Synchronous communication is particularly suitable, for example, for:

  • Kick-off-Meetings
  • creative work processes such as brainstorming or feedback on designs
  • Stand-ups
  • Meetings of the entire team
  • Live lessons and live events via video

What role does video play in asynchronous and synchronous communication?

Today we live in a world in which moving images dominate and communication via video is part of everyday professional and private life. Video as a communication tool can be found in both synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Again, however, there are suitable and less suitable applications. Many probably still remember the never-ending video conferences during the Corona pandemic. Video overused as a synchronous means of communication can be a productivity killer. According to studies, after about 30 minutes, the attention in a video call decreases.

In general, a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous use is therefore also recommended for video. Use the advantages of synchronous communication via video, for example for live lessons and live events. Enable face-to-face interactions between teachers and students during live webinars to ask questions or discuss what they have learned.

However, you can also use the many advantages of video in asynchronous communication, such as recorded webinars, training and education videos, onboarding sessions, tutorials, project reports as screencasts or feedback videos: These can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, in your own home Tempo and repeatedly watched and are permanently archivable.

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