A recent survey revealed that 83% of employers say remote work has been successful for their company. There are so many reasons why this may be (no commute, fewer distractions, or simply being more comfortable) but there’s one change remote work forced upon us that can continue, even as we move back into the office: asynchronous communication.

Remote teams naturally lean more toward asynchronous communication because it’s more convenient. Teams are placed in different time zones, technical difficulties plague Zoom meetings, and it’s just easier to communicate asynchronously when you’re also trying to carry your kids through online school.

The result? Necessity may have unlocked a communication style that can transform productivity in the workplace (and make for happier, less stressed employees). Let’s dig in.

What is asynchronous communication?

The asynchronous communication definition describes communication that has a time lag between the sender and the recipient. With asynchronous communication, people can communicate without committing to being available at the same time. Basically, it’s when you send a message without expecting someone to respond immediately.

Some examples of asynchronous communication include emails, messaging apps, and shared docs in the cloud.

Synchronous communication is the opposite of asynchronous communication– it’s when you are communicating with others live and in person. With synchronous communication, you’re dedicating time to communicate with your team in real time.

Why use asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication can be an asset when properly executed, especially in a remote setting. Here’s how switching to asynchronous communication can benefit your team:

1. More productive 

Asynchronous communication can increase productivity. Just think about it– how many times have you been deep in concentration at work, only to have your focus completely obliterated by a Slack notification you’re expected to respond to immediately, or a meeting that definitely could’ve been an email. 

Research shows that collaboration like emails, meetings, and online chatting can consume up to 80% of a full workday– that leaves very little time for employees to focus on actually getting the work done. And honestly, this could be part of why we’ve seen a spark in productivity amongst remote teams.

With asynchronous communication, you’re able to batch reply to messages and emails. Studies show that it takes 64 seconds to recover from an email. They’re a proven drain on productivity. 

Plus, research shows that those without email access switched windows 18 times per hour on average, compared to 37 window switches per hour by those with email access. Batch replying to emails at a dedicated time increases overall productivity. 

More asynchronous communication opens up additional time for employees to focus on projects. 

2. Communication is recorded

Picture this: you’re in a meeting, and your mind wanders. Maybe the meeting is extra stressful or you’re struggling with social anxiety, or maybe your stomach is growling and you’re daydreaming about the leftover donuts taunting you from the kitchen table. 

You draw your attention back to the meeting and hear “think you can get this to me by 3pm?” Now, you either have to admit you were paying more attention to the donuts than your actual job and ask them to repeat the task, or say okay and take a wild guess at what they want you to do. Neither option is ideal. 

Now, what if that meeting was an email? A slack convo? A Vimeo recording? In all three of these cases, you’d have a saved record of all communications. You can reread the email or replay the recording as many times as necessary, no matter how much time passes.

3. More honest, higher quality communication

While asynchronous communication is admittedly slower, it results in higher-quality communication than the knee-jerk responses that result from the pressure of synchronous communication. 


When people know communication is going to take a bit longer, they’re more inclined to send thorough messages that can get the job done with less correspondence. 

Thanks to the online disinhibition effect, people are also more likely to be honest through asynchronous communication. This leads to more honest feedback and insights than synchronous communication. 

4. Less stressed employees

Additionally, a study by researchers at UC Irvine and the U.S. Army even found that limiting email access dramatically reduces stress levels. 

With asynchronous communication, employees are able to limit the stress that comes from responding to emails by responding to all messages within a limited time frame. When they aren’t faced with a constant stream of 64 second setbacks, employees can be more focused and productive and less stressed overall.

5. Higher quality talent

Teams that communicate mainly through asynchronous means aren’t limited to hiring people who can easily communicate synchronously within your same time zone. You can hire the best candidate for the job, without worrying about whether or not they’ll be doing the work while you’re snoring!

Synchronous vs asynchronous communication

Asynchronous communication puts employees in charge of their workday by letting them decide when they communicate with their teammates. They’re able to set aside dedicated time to work without interruptions, which boosts productivity. 

It does have its pitfalls, though. Asynchronous communication often loses emotional context. To avoid misunderstandings, it’s best to leave communication where emotional context is important to synchronous methods. 

Real-time meetings are also great for solving complex problems, when asynchronous methods are requiring too much back and forth, when brainstorming, and when you just want to connect with your team on a deeper level.

Every workplace needs a little bit of both synchronous and asynchronous communication to get the job done. The key is to find the right balance. 

Synchronous Communication ExamplesAsynchronous Communication Examples
In-person meetingsEmail
Phone callsMessaging software
Slack and email communication (when you’re pressured to respond right away)Video recordings
Zoom meetingsProject management software
Office chit-chatCollaboration in the cloud

Asynchronous communication examples

Here are some examples of asynchronous communication you can implement:

Email

Email is asynchronous because you can send an email and the recipient can respond on their own time. Make sure your team doesn’t think they’re expected to respond ASAP, because that defeats the point of using asynchronous methods. 

Messaging software

Instant messaging software is another example of asynchronous communication where you have to let your team know they can respond at their leisure. Most apps have settings where you can display whether you’re online or not, which will come in handy while your team is working out their “deep work” and “open to communicate” schedules.

Video recordings/demos

Video recordings are amazing for when your message is easier to explain out loud and needs to be paired with a screen recording, but doesn’t warrant a synchronous video chat or in-person meeting. 

Project management software

With most project management software, you can communicate asynchronously by tagging other users and commenting/assigning certain tasks within a project. It streamlines communication to include only what relates directly to the project, which is great for productivity.

Collaboration in the cloud

When using platforms where you can collaborate on documents with your teammates (like the Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams), you can make comments and edits that your team can respond to at their convenience. You can even tag users in certain comments and they’ll get an email notification. 

Video libraries

A company’s video library is a centralized hub of internal videos that can serve a variety of purposes. Some companies use video libraries to store video assets for various projects while others use them to house internal resources like town halls, onboarding materials, and virtual trainings.

Synchronous communication examples

As we covered earlier, synchronous communication is any communication where you’re expected to respond/participate in the moment. Here are some examples:

  • Office chit-chat
  • Slack and email communication (when you’re pressured to respond right away)
  • Zoom meetings
  • In-person meetings
  • Phone calls

How to use asynchronous communication to improve workplace productivity

Asynchronous communication can transform your productivity, but only if you go about it the right way. Follow these best practices and you’ll be golden. 

1. Change your mindset 

If your team is stuck in the synchronous communication mindset, they’ll be expecting instant replies even while using asynchronous communication methods. That’s why it’s important to get everyone on the same page from the start. 

Teach your team about asynchronous communication and its value– you can even send them this post! Make it clear which types of communication and situations require urgent responses and which can be replied to whenever is convenient. It might also be a good idea to set a “reply by” time, just to keep everyone accountable.

2. Use the right tools 

Anything is possible with the right tool. With that being said, not having the right tools can make success really difficult to achieve. Set your team up for success by finding the asynchronous communication tools that fit your workflow. You can also get feedback from your employees on what tools work and don’t work– their insight is priceless. 

3. Set clear goals and deadlines

Employees are more productive when they are clear on their goals and expectations. This is especially important for remote teams, as they tend to be more outcome-based. 

Make sure your whole team is clear on their goals and expectations within the project. You should also set clear deadlines in a standard timezone so everyone’s on the same page when it comes to when things are due.

4. Create troubleshooting guidelines 

When relying on technology, it’s always a good idea to create a solid set of troubleshooting guidelines your employees can rely on when they get into a pickle. This will help your team focus on their work rather than technical difficulties. 

Asynchronous communication tools and technology

Ready to make the switch to asynchronous communication? Here’s some great asynchronous technology to jumpstart your success:

Vimeo Record

With Vimeo’s screen recorder, you can use your webcam and screen record to share product demonstrations, explain projects, give briefs, etc. When you’re done, share your video directly using our Chrome extension

Asana

Your team can use Asana to assign and complete projects from start to finish, without ever sending an email or taking a meeting. You can tag teammates, comment on projects, assign tasks, and even link all of the project assets in the platform to organize everything your team needs to get the job done in one place.

Slack

Slack is an instant messaging tool. It’s a great form of asynchronous communication when used properly. The platform is organized into channels, making the messages more digestible than email threads. You can adjust your availability to show you’re not online when you don’t want to respond to messages instantly. 

Twist

Twist connects with Todoist (another project management software) and lets you create projects directly from your conversations. It’s like project management and instant messaging in a single app. 

World Time Buddy

World Time Buddy is perfect for teams that operate in multiple time zones. Use it to see when your teammates are likely working.

Concluding thoughts

Synchronous communication might be what’s considered normal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way. Data from the last couple years shows that remote work leads to higher productivity. Leaning into asynchronous communication is a way to capitalize on this productivity, even if you’re back in the office.


Ready to get started? Pull up Vimeo Record today.