What is Asynchronous Communication? Asynchronous Definition

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Teams all around the world are embracing asynchronous communication and today, we’re helping you understand the benefits of this hyper-productive work style by sharing a simple asynchronous definition. 

We’ll provide a quick explanation of the key differences between asynchronous and synchronous work, including some useful examples. If you’ve still got questions, you’ll find the answers in our ultimate guide to asynchronous work

What does asynchronous mean?

In its simplest terms, asynchronous means not occurring at the same time.

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication is any kind of communication in which employees are not responding to each other in real time. 

What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous communication?

As we mentioned above, asynchronous communication is any kind of communication in which employees are not responding to each other in real time. By contrast, synchronous communication is immediate. It features the kind of back-and-forth exchange that can only happen in the moment. Meetings (both in-person and virtual), phone calls and instant messaging are all synchronous forms of communication.

Asynchronous work:
  • Employees may or may not be working at the same time
  • Employees use their own judgement to decide when is best to respond to questions or requests 
  • Employees use documentation and software for communicating and collaborating
  • Employees may use still use email and messaging apps like Slack, but are not expected to respond right away
Synchronous work:
  • Employees perform their work at the same time
  • Employees respond to questions or requests in real time
  • Employees communicate and collaborate via meetings, phone calls, instant messaging or communication software

Let’s look at an example. When an employee shares a report they’re working on via Google Slides and their manager responds with feedback an hour later, that’s asynchronous communication. If the employee and manager discussed the report in a meeting, that would be synchronous communication.

Asynchronous work is often associated with dispersed teams in which team members live in different time zones, and companies that promote flexible working. But office-based teams and teams in which employees work the same hours can and do reap the benefits of asynchronous work too.

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