A deep dive into synchronous vs. asynchronous communication

A deep dive into synchronous vs. asynchronous communication

Introduction

Communication is key to profitable collaboration between management and staff. Employees spend about half their time working with others. They convey information internally for various purposes; communication is how these messages reach the intended receiver.

To get the best out of employees, you must develop better communication channels, which start by identifying the various forms of communication. There are two significant forms of communication: synchronous and asynchronous. While both are unique, businesses need them to establish cohesion and enhance team productivity.

This guide explains the communication types, features, and differences between face-to-face and instant messaging. Read further to find the ideal communication type to adopt in your organization.

What Is Synchronous Communication?

Synchronous communication means the information you convey to one or more people simultaneously. It is immediate real-life interaction between people through face-to-face conversations, phone calls, group chats, or live online classes. Communication is synchronous regardless of the participants' location.

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What Is Asynchronous Communication?

Asynchronous communication is when one party interprets and replies to a message at a different time from when they received it. It is when you communicate information without expecting an immediate response. It encourages adaptability and relieves the pressure of a quick response.

It's not a continuous communication type, which makes it best for a global workforce. With this description, it should be easy to tell which of the following is an example of asynchronous communication:

  • Voicemail messages
  • Recorded teaching sessions
  • Emails
  • Letters
  • Text messages

The Difference between Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

Synchronous and asynchronous communication are two different forms of interacting with people. Here are the common differences between them:

  • Asynchronous communication is economical. Most synchronous communication tools are relatively more expensive than asynchronous tools. You would likely spend more to acquire these tools when you start hiring.
  • Synchronous communicators aim for an immediate response. The goal of communicating determines what communication form to employ. While the information conveyor seeks a quick reaction in synchronous communication, an asynchronous message sender doesn't require an immediate response.
  • Synchronous is real-time conversations. The scheduling difference between both communication forms is scheduling. Conversations in synchronous communication happen in real-time. The recipient of asynchronous information initiates a discussion on their own time.
  • An international workforce would benefit immensely from asynchronous work. Remote workers would access their messages when convenient.

Pros and Cons of Synchronous Communication

Synchronous communication can be beneficial in many ways, depending on your communication goal. However, there are cases where it's not the best way to convey information. Explore the pros and cons of this form of communication.

Pros of Synchronous Communication

Avoid Misunderstanding

Certain words or phrases can have double meanings. It may lead to a misunderstanding between the sender and recipient, causing friction between both parties. The recipient would likely correctly interpret such messages if they happened in real-time.

Puts Words in the Right Context

It's easy to misinterpret a message by viewing it in the wrong context. When you speak face-to-face with someone, you can control your words to ensure they don't take them out of context. Correcting your language and rephrasing your message to have the intended impact is also easy.

Build Connections

Connecting on a personal level is one of the keys to collaboration. According to Harvard Business Review, the fundamentals of collaboration are crucial to achieving organizational success. Synchronous communication can help both parties share ideas and bond over similar interests.

It's easy to read a speaker's authenticity through their emotions, and it's easier when communicating in real-time. Such communication helps both parties develop empathy for one another.

Avoid Ambiguity

Information can be complex, especially when you can't see the informant. Sometimes, even a good listener may have to read the lips of the speaker to understand what they're saying. Synchronous communication helps avoid ambiguity so that the receiver gets the message. Sometimes, when the receiver doesn't understand the message or mishears a word, they may ask questions to confirm what they heard. Likewise, some speakers use gestures to drive home their points. These effective communication practices are attainable when the communication is synchronous.

Immediate Action

Some official matters are urgent and require immediate action. If you want assurance of instantaneous action from an employee, synchronous communication is the ideal option. This way, you can be sure that the recipient understands the task and the urgency. You would also communicate the guidelines and other crucial information to execute the tasks in real-time properly.

Ensure Comprehension or Confirm the Agreement

Some projects can be complex, and you may need to break them down for employees or colleagues to understand. It's essential to be sure they know the task and can expertly execute it before proceeding. One of the best ways to know that the team understands the job is by asking real-time questions. You may also ask for suggestions on how to carry out the assignment.

Cons of Synchronous Communication

Not Enough Time for the Recipient to Properly Structure the Response

Some messages deserve carefully thought-through responses. Unfortunately, you can hardly get such replies in a synchronous conversation. Sometimes, the recipient tells you what you want to hear without fully comprehending the information so that they can return to whatever they are doing.

Difficulty in Arranging Meetings

Synchronous communication thrives on having the message recipient's attention. Creating a meeting time that suits everyone's schedule can be tricky. You may need to go through this pain each time you communicate synchronously.

Meetings May Be Unnecessary

Have you ever been in a situation where you reluctantly attended a staff meeting? A short while into the forum, you're already wondering why they didn't just send it in an email. The risk is that sometimes, participants may see the process as unnecessary and a waste of time.

Pros and Cons of Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication can also be beneficial for various occasions. Like synchronous communication, there's a flip side to this communication form.

Pros of Asynchronous Communication

Time to Assess and Respond to a Message

Sometimes it's best not to respond to a message instantly. Asynchronous communication ensures that you are not under pressure to reply to a message when you're not in the best position to do so. With this communication style, you have time to assess information before carefully forwarding a reply.

Inclusion

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), inclusion is essential to rebuild productive workplaces. Asynchronous communication can help achieve inclusion in the workplace. It ensures that employees feel like a part of an organization regardless of location or time zone. To facilitate global hiring, you may need to partner with a global employer or record service like Skuad.

You Control How You Receive Information

Messages in real-time can be beneficial as they update you on ongoing happenings. However, they can be overwhelming, especially when you need to concentrate. Real-time notifications could cause a significant distraction for some. Instead of letting colleagues spam your email with messages, you can schedule how you receive information. One of the advantages of asynchronous communication is that it gives you control over how you interact with others.  

Cons of Asynchronous Communication

Easy to Take Message Out of Context

Have you ever replied to a message and didn't know if the sender was being sarcastic or serious? That happens when there's a lag between when the sender imparted the information and when you received it. You may have to meet the person face-to-face to confirm the meaning of their message.

Difficult to Establish Trust

When the interpretation of a message confuses you, it may become difficult to establish trust with the sender. Consequently, this might slow down your decision-making process and affect the outcome of ongoing projects.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication: Which One to Choose

The synchronous vs. asynchronous communication debate may not end any time soon. Upon learning the differences between both forms of communication, you may wonder which one to choose.

There's no superior communication approach. They're both unique and serve different purposes. Choosing one depends on your communication purpose and what you wish to achieve with your information. You must consider certain crucial factors to help you decide which is ideal. You may choose synchronous communication if:

  • You want to build a healthy rapport with employees or colleagues
  • Immediate action is essential to solve a crucial problem
  • You want to launch a project and want to explain the concept
  • You want to brainstorm ideas with others

On the other hand, asynchronous working would be the better option if:

  • There's no need for an instant response
  • You recorded your message or lecture for others to review in their spare time
  • You intend to send information to people in different time zones
  • It is better to email the information

Regardless of which option suits you, you may need a global employee management service like Skuad to simplify employee management. Speak to a Skuad agent to learn how we can help you maintain a cohesive and responsive international team.

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