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‘Flexi-Comms’ - Adapting your Communications to suit Flexible Working

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

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Asynchronous communication, a type of communication that you'll need to understand and embrace in a flexible workplace.

With the shift towards flexible working, it's great to see that even the most rigid and traditional workplaces are becoming more flexible. But with this change comes the need to rethink our communication methods, especially in the new world of flex.

In this post, I want to talk to you about asynchronous communication - a type of communication that you'll need to understand and embrace in a flexible workplace.

But what is asynchronous communication?

Well, firstly let's look at Synchronous Communication - Let's say you're having a conversation with someone. You greet each other, go back and forth and eventually get to the point of your discussion. Even at that point, there is the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, or for more context, nuance, or resources. This is synchronous communication - it's in real-time, back and forth.

But in a flexible environment, synchronous communication is not always possible or ideal. The person you are looking for may not be at their desk or available in real-time to respond to your message. Back-and-forth (synchronous) communication becomes stilted and people in the same city can feel like they are working across time zones as information is drip fed. This is where asynchronous communication comes in.

Asynchronous communication - means communicating with someone without the expectation of an immediate response. Unlike synchronous communication, where you have a back-and-forth conversation in real-time, asynchronous communication allows you to send a message or request and let the other person respond when it's convenient for them.

This means including all the context and nuance, so the recipient has everything they need to carry out your request or task. To do this effectively you must put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they will need, what questions they might have, or what gaps there are in your communications.

This doesn't mean writing long essays or theses - being concise is key.

Using bullet points, visuals, and even emojis can help get your message across effectively. Ensure your language is plain and simple. Keep your ‘ask’ as clear as possible.

By improving your asynchronous communication, you'll avoid frustrating delays and build better relationships with your colleagues. You'll also ensure that everyone has everything they need to get their work done without needing to follow up for more information. Gustavo Razzetti has written about this in far more detail.

This week's tweak - practice asynchronous communication

Find ways to practice Asynchronous Communication. We are accustomed to constant contact and communication but it can be disruptive at times and makes us feel we are always on and can’t get any focused uninterrupted work done.

Consider how you are communicating

Are you giving your colleagues a clear concise message?

Are you giving all of the information they are going to need in one go?

What questions might they have?

Are there additional resources or materials they may need for context?

Is there a clear ask and expectation?

Example 1 - Business Development team

Let's say you work in a team that collaborates on creating presentations for clients.

Previously, you would have scheduled a meeting to discuss the project and shared ideas in real-time. However, now that your team has embraced a flexible working environment, it's likely that not everyone can be available at the same time. Instead of waiting for everyone to be available for a face-to-face meeting, you can use asynchronous communication to collaborate on the presentation.

You can share your ideas and progress through a shared document or a project management tool that allows team members to contribute and provide feedback at their own pace. This way, team members can work on their own schedules and still contribute to the project in a meaningful way.

Example 2 - Project Management

Let's say you are working on a project with a team spread across different time zones.

Instead of scheduling a meeting that works for everyone, which can be difficult, you can use asynchronous communication to keep the project moving forward.

You can send a message with the project updates, assign tasks, and set deadlines.

Each team member can work on their part of the project and communicate their progress asynchronously, providing feedback or asking questions as needed. This way, the project can move forward even when team members are not available at the same time.

Even better Tweak

Consider creating a team agreement on how to communicate asynchronously within your team.

  • Consider what communication tools you use within your team such as Slack, Monday, Microsoft Teams, or email.

  • When do you use asynchronous communications?

  • When do you use synchronous communication?

  • When do you expect people to respond/acknowledge

This is the team agreement we use at A Better Work, click here to view it. Or even better:

Good luck, take care and bye for now!

Let's make work better together.

Michelle Wallace


A Better Work


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