People all over the world always feel pressured to respond to messages as soon as they get notifications, even when their company management advises them to communicate asynchronously. An example of how asynchronous communication works is when you communicate with a client. You don't always expect an immediate response. You may need to wait for hours or even days before you get a response because the other party may have to think through things. The response may also depend on some actions required from other parties.
Asynchronous communication is more common with remote working, where people in different time zones respond when they're productive. In this article, we'll explore how asynchronous communication can boost productivity in organizations.
What Asynchronous Communication Is
Asynchronous communication means giving feedback on an operation after some time has passed rather than providing an immediate response.
With this method, a company grades employees' productivity not only on how fast they respond or give feedback but also on the quality of their responses. A technology that encourages and makes implementing asynchronous communication easier is CloudBees software delivery management (SDM).
With this technology, the DevOps engineer can manage teams while encouraging productive discussion before team members give feedback.
Next, let's dive into how the opposite of asynchronous communication—synchronous communication—can harm productivity.
A Look at Synchronous Communication
Some may argue that synchronous communication, where employees give immediate feedback, is more convenient. But the convenience that comes with synchronous communication has a cost.
In synchronous communication, the company grades employees' productivity on how quickly they are able to respond to a request or give feedback. This system doesn't take collaboration, productive conversations, or proper documentation into account. Instead, speed is king.
The Relationship Between Asynchronous Communication and Productivity
In most real-life scenarios, managers don't measure productivity by how fast employees respond or give feedback. Instead, they measure it by the quality of feedback given. A very good example of how asynchronous communication can build productivity is in the case of DevOps.
DevOps is a set of principles or practices that involves the collaboration of software development (Dev) and operations (Ops). The aim of DevOps is to provide continuous delivery and high software quality while reducing production time.
From the definition above, it's clear that asynchronous communication can shorten production time when compared with synchronous communication. With this DevSecOps tool, a DevOps team can agree on a particular secure procedure for software building, thereby reducing the need for a rigorous review process.
Ways Asynchronous Communication Can Build Productivity
We've seen what asynchronous communication is and what it isn't. Let's focus on the different ways you can boost productivity with asynchronous communication. Here are just a few.
1. Proper Documentation
Asynchronous collaboration tools like GitHub, Trello, and others make it possible for teams to work together asynchronously. This way, team members don't have to wait for one person to finish before continuing work.
One special advantage of teams using asynchronous communication tools like this is the ability to document every bit of information shared and every step considered. Regardless of whether the organization will take a certain step, that step will be properly documented. In contrast, in a traditional meeting setting, the secretary or other record keeper documents only the steps chosen. Asynchronous communication lets you document information across a project's lifetime, and you can retrieve it whenever you or someone else needs it.
2. Promoting a Healthy Team Environment
Everyone loves a healthy working environment. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, people are more productive while working in positive environments. An environment with good ethics is one where managers and other workers consider the needs of all employees and where there is little or no strife. What does this have to do with asynchronous environments? Well, in a synchronous environment, stress tends to be widespread as employees strive to be the first to respond.
In the traditional synchronous communication way of working, team members make contributions and give feedback as soon as someone requests it. Because the feedback is immediate, conversations may lack deep thoughts and information, which may make them unproductive.
With asynchronous communication, colleagues have time to consider feedback. That way, they can brainstorm and make quality contributions. A productive conversation is one that involves hearing and validating all team members' contributions. This places the team in a strong position so they can continue to contribute high-quality ideas.
Productive conversation contributes significantly to the overall productivity of an organization. Once the team members agree on an idea, they can quickly move on with that idea rather than continuously debating it.
3. Saving Time
Time is a valuable resource in every organization because time lost can't be recovered. In the synchronous communication method, employees feel obligated to respond immediately to messages.
For example, let's say the team manager gives each member a deadline to achieve a task. Each team member receives an email. The team member who works in a synchronous environment feels the need to respond to the mail immediately. When this happens, focus time becomes interrupted. The team member may respond to mail in a hurried or slapdash way, not paying attention to details.
The best method to make this scenario less likely is to encourage asynchronous communication. Team leads advise members to turn off their notifications during certain times of day and then dedicate time blocks to respond to messages. These time blocks span different times in a day to avoid overly prolonging the time until feedback. Team members respond to messages according to priority and message type. While some messages require an immediate response, others may require rescheduling response time and further communications.
Tools That Aid Asynchronous Communication
At first, people who are used to working in synchronous environments tend to fidget and not do well in asynchronous environments. If team leads put working standards in place, however, this will help developers learn to communicate asynchronously.
With CloudBees software delivery management tools, developers can work collaboratively in a secure environment. There's proper accountability for data because all storing of software delivery information and interactivity happens in a single place. Team leads can assign tasks to members and track their contributions, and members of a team can work together collaboratively.
Another practical solution is CloudBees software delivery automation (SDA) tools. With these tools, teams can release new updates to their users continually in the most secure ways. Team members know what each member is working on, so there's no overlap in software releases. These tools help team members to carry out automation of software releases on existing tools, giving teams more time to adjust to newer tools.
The beautiful news about these tools is that you can integrate them into asynchronous collaboration tools. For instance, it's possible to integrate CloudBees SDM and SDA into GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, and so on.
A Few Words of Caution
Asynchronous communication isn't a perfect way of working. There are some downsides. If not properly practiced, unnecessary stress, frustration, and even downtime may arise from using this method. For example, an organization that just implemented asynchronous communication may still require employees to give immediate responses. Frustration may set in when one party expects a quick response and can't get it immediately.
If you don't study asynchronous workflow properly and put things in place before adopting this method, your organization may encounter some chaos. If there are no clear guidelines to check working procedures, then employees may feel reluctant to contribute ideas, thus incurring downtime. But you can read more about tools to successfully carry out asynchronous communication without the downsides in DevOps.
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