The Power Behind Async Comms and Its Newest Revelation
Remember as a child, using a rotary phone with a curly pig-tail-cord connected to the wall? (If you’re younger than me, just imagine this as a scene from Stranger Things.) During those simpler times, if you were anything like me, half the time you made a call you were praying from the very first ring that you’d reach the “beep” of the answering machine on the other end. You essentially wanted to leave a message, an uninterrupted complete thought. The other party received, considered, and responded to the message at a later, more convenient time for them. This, along with the advent of email, was the dawn of modern async communications.
In short, async comms is a way of communicating, whether written, voice, and now video (yes, this is foreshadowing), that is spread out over time. According to a blog published by Doist, “Simply put, asynchronous communication is when you send a message without expecting an immediate response. For example, you send an email. I open and respond to the email several hours later.”
Async comms now take place in myriad forms on myriad platforms from email to Instagram, to LinkedIn, to Whatsapp. Its inundation throughout our social and work lives that we barely think of its significance. Doist continues, “In contrast, synchronous communication is when you send a message and the recipient processes the information and responds immediately. In-person communication, like meetings, are examples of purely synchronous communication.”
This seemingly minor difference of when you should respond, how fast you need to process information and give an answer, is paramount to the power of async comms. I’m sure we’re all familiar with numerous people who have a very different “online persona” than how they carry themselves in real life. That time to write, rewrite, and deeply consider how your contributions will be received—that is the difference. In a work setting, if you make the intentional choice of centering your team’s primary communication around async comms, that change will have a profound impact.
Why Async Is the Future of Work
There are several powerful reasons why the shift to async comms has altered the productivity, satisfaction, and contributions made across teams in every industry. Let’s break down the top four reasons.
The classic form of work comms, the in-person meetings and phone calls that dominated the previous century, heavily favor half of our population—the extrovert. There is reason to believe that this antiquated work culture directly correlates to our society’s favoritism of this personality type. Imagine being an introvert at a fast-paced, high-energy sales meeting in the late 90s. Just imagining it feels like borderline workplace torcher.
Now, imagine working as an introvert on a sales team right now—one that primarily uses slack, email and other forms of async communications to brainstorm and accomplish work. You can contribute on your schedule, without the social pressure, after you’ve processed everything and maybe even done some research.
Time to Process:
Whether naturally extrovert, introvert, or some beautiful blend of the two (i.e. most of us), with async comms you have one important thing on your side—time. You can write, rewrite, or rerecord (yes, foreshadowing again), until you are happy with your input. Take the best things about being an introvert, and use that power to positively impact your team’s work-flow. Not everyone is quick with a joke or snappy response. Some folks want time to formulate a response instead of firing off the first thing that comes to mind.
We all have our own natural energy rhythms. Async comms allow us to dive deep into work mode when the sun is in the exact part of the sky that works best for us. We can crack open our laptops at dawn, burn the midnight oil, or follow a traditional 9-5. The beauty is that we can decide, and contribute when the time is best for each of us. (If you want to learn more about different rhythms, this amazing book dives deep into that subject)
Have you ever tried to schedule a team call with more than 8 people? Have you ever had to do it when those people are all in different timezones? If so, I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m not suggesting we should throw team meetings out altogether! However, migrating most of your communications to async tools alleviates this inevitable scheduling headache. Consider if you want to…
- Get feedback on a new product launch
- Brainstorm a new marketing strategy
- Collect ideas for the holiday party
All of these aspects of work can take place in an async comms thread! When anyone on your team has a lightbulb moment—maybe while driving, maybe in the shower—they can pull over, dry off, and get their idea into the mix at the exact moment they’re most inspired. Nobody can predict exactly when their best ideas will come. When we have them, we certainly don’t want to wait until Friday’s team meeting to share.
Archive & Database:
One of the greatest aspects of async communications is that everything is recorded, searchable, and archived. In synchronous comms, no matter how good your meeting “note-taker” might be, some things get lost in the mix. Exact phrasing, a certain colorful idea, credit for a later-used contribution—all of those things are at the mercy of a single note taker’s sense of “what is important enough to write down.” With async comms, it’s all there, forever.
Whether Slack, email, or now Voodle, contributions to an async platform can be found and referenced, even years later. (SLACK is even an acronym meaning “searchable log of all conversation and knowledge”). Slack, email and WhatsApp are all text-driven async platforms where nothing is lost. The downside is that you quickly end up with a landfill of a virtual-message-pile. The words add up quickly, and down the road they tend to lose their context and full significance.
Voodle, a new async work tool based on short-form video, keeps a record of everything based on 60-second videos. Looking back in the Voodle archives for someone’s contribution, you not only avoid scrolling through a landfill of words. You also gain the emotional impact of video. When you find the video, you have a much deeper understanding of the sentiment and nuance of what was communicated. This generates a much greater feeling of intimacy and connectedness to that person. Thus, the magic of video. The message is now three dimensional in a way that no text ever can be. We believe that is why async video is the future—why Voodle is the future.
The Best of Both Worlds
For the skeptics reading this, you might be finding yourself thinking “Sure, all of this sounds great. But for me, there’s still no replacing the genuine human connection of face-to-face conversations or in-person team meetings.” If you were thinking that… you make a great point. However—luckily—with Voodle you can now have the best of both worlds.
With Voodle, you send short async videos to and respond to your coworkers. You get all the benefits of async comms without losing the essential feeling of human connection. Voodle was created on this truth: async comms is the future, but we must preserve workplace humanity. Embracing Voodle as a workplace tool to capture all of your team members’ ideas as they come up is a sure bet to generate immediate positive results.
At this point in the remote work revolution, numerous studies demonstrate how remote workers are more productive and happier than their counterparts still working from the office. The common thought is that it’s the home office set-up, the freedom and independence granted, or the lack of a frustrating commute. Then, those things snowball into these rich benefits proven by the data. However, as Doist points out, “…all of those benefits aren’t necessarily the result of location independence, but rather the byproduct of asynchronous communication—giving employees control over when they communicate with their teammates.”
The future is remote. The future of remote work is async. That said, there’s a justifiable fear that remote async work creates a loss of human connection. Voodle enters stage left. Integrate Voodle into your work-flow and allow the benefits of the most human form of async comms to flourish. Your team will relish the advantages of async remote work, without having to sacrifice the culture that comes with really knowing your co-workers and contributing in a three-dimensional human way.
Don’t forget to share this post!