Let me know if this situation seems relatable to you:
You’re working at your desk, silently and completely focused. Suddenly, your phone pings. You choose to ignore it. Suddenly, it pings again.
Now your curiosity sets in. You know that the mail might be irrelevant but there’s a small chance that it might be the report you've been waiting on since yesterday.
You give in and check the notification, it’s a promotional mail. Now all you want to do is turn off your phone and concentrate on work. Sadly, that is not possible in today’s workplace culture.
In the age of synchronous communication and remote working(post 2020, this has come to the limelight), staying off communication mediums means cutting off all important and non important communication.
Wherever you work, relying on modern tools and technology has become the norm. Although these are extremely helpful in some scenarios and help keep productivity high, too much exposure to such apps when you have a big team or a large number of people to talk to, can lead to an overwhelming amount of notifications and no way to tell which one is important.
We are in the age of delayed communication, where people communicate to us what they want in a recorded text or any other format and we reply in our own time, and that is a good thing. It helps us keep our focus on the work and not spend more time talking to your colleagues when you are busy. Your focus on your work helps cut down working time, give you more time for yourself and for those mid-task chit chats that we all love and enjoy.In fact, four day work days were “an overwhelming success” in Iceland according to a BBC report. It is impossible to go for a purely synchronous communication model in a remote work scenario. Every person has their own work timing and these might not match with their teammates. Some are night owls and some are early risers.
So what is the solution to this problem? Well, it’s the opposite of synchronous communication. It is asynchronous communication.
So, what do asynchronous and asynchronous communication mean? Simply put, asynchronous communication means that not all people involved in a certain team or task are required to be at the same place or online at the same time. It is not expecting a reply the instant you send a message or an email to a coworker.
Benefits of asynchronous communication:
What happens in meetings usually is that you have to document your meeting and take minutes or notes that later help you highlight the important parts or just to revise who’s doing what. With asynchronous communication and proper collaboration tools like Butter, you don’t have to keep track of these things. Documentation happens instantly and you can easily identify the important tasks by taking a quick peek at your dashboard. A simple sort by due date and you have the nearest deadline task right in front of you. This keeps us in sync with the work and prevents confusion.
Accessibility. With Butter, you can bring your entire team or even organisation under one roof. It is a gift for managers who can now have their subordinates, projects and the overall progress of the company right in front of them. Keeps everyone under the same roof. Keep transparency in work and in sight of who’s doing what and let’s the team leader or manager see what is going on with the team without probing too much and just observing. Employees can collaborate cross functionally and do not need to catch up with each other every other 10 minutes.
Giving your employees room to work and breathe. Letting employees work on their own and give updates asynchronously means that both you and your coworkers can get more work done. Luckily for Butter users, there is an “ask for status update feature” that helps you ask for an update on a task and you get a reply asynchronously.
Communication through chat or similar platforms helps give a well thought out and concise response to a proposal or a problem. Giving your team enough time to think and reflect on tasks helps in getting more well thought out and genuine responses than synchronous communication in meetings or 1:1s. Eliminate these meetings and rely on async communication wherever possible. Keep elaborate ideas for meetings or calls, keep small tasks and discussions in chat. But then the question arises, how to filter through chat and find out what is important? Well, Butter has chat threads for when you need quick updates on what is going on. It keeps the conversation on that topic limited to that thread and a quick glance saves you a long and tedious scroll through a bundle of important messages and just plain chit chat. Still not sure which chat app to use? Check this out.
Finding the balance between enough information versus overcommunication is also important. Provide coworkers with short crisp details and links/images so that they can give you crisp and to the point answers without beating around the bush. Giving enough information to work on prevents the need for constant and frequent updates on the same task. Clear async communication with details and an expected timeline is helpful. When setting tasks on Butter, you have the option of including links and small descriptions along with attaching images or setting a deadline.
Setting the right expectations. Confused who to ask for what? Check the tasks, see who’s working on what. Approach them directly by eliminating doubt. Self accountability helps in these situations. Today’s slacking can lead to a delayed project tomorrow. Learn to be self organized. Keep your work updated through the task section. Let your team know that you are completing the work without explicitly stating it. Shared tasks on Butter can be viewed by everyone in the group. Maintain workflow by setting reminders for your coworkers. It helps keep you accountable and sets an example for them to be accountable too.
In conclusion: Use messages as short and crisp communication devices, use tasks to keep up with your team members on your own time and most of all use your own judgement and self organization to deliver the best you can.