Asynchronous collaboration: definition, advantages, and disadvantages

Asynchronous collaboration: definition, advantages, and disadvantages

collaboration asynchrone
Posted by Benjamin Hermitte, on Wednesday 22 November 2023

Since the pandemic, the world of work has changed. Most companies have been forced to evolve their practices to adapt to the new demands of employees. Today, teleworking and hybrid working are very popular as they offer employees much needed flexibility and work/life balance.

Companies need to adopt new ways of working to continue to be effective. People will not work in the same way in 2023 as they did in 2019. As a result, the terms synchronous and asynchronous communication and collaboration have been coined.

What is asynchronous collaboration?

Asynchronous collaboration means working together offline, not simultaneously. For example, employees who are in different time zones and cannot be active at the same time. Asynchronous collaboration is therefore not spontaneous or instantaneous.

This way of collaborating is facilitated by the Internet and the use of online collaborative tools. The digital transformation has promoted asynchronous collaboration. Employees log on to their applications and software when they are available. They perform their tasks and communicate with their colleagues asynchronously. To do this, they use adapted tools such as:

– instant messaging,

– e-mail,

– mail,

– document sharing,

– project management software,

– a collaborative office suite,

– audio or video messages recorded and accessed later,

– the corporate social network.

The fact that not all team members are connected at the same time does not prevent them from doing their work and being productive on a daily basis.

How does this differ from synchronous collaboration?

Synchronous collaboration is when people communicate and work together simultaneously, such as in a meeting, workshop, or workgroup.

The exchange is live, and the collaborators respond instantly via a face-to-face interaction, video, or telephone conversation. In addition, synchronous communication is more spontaneous. This is true of conversations at the coffee machine or between two doors.

Synchronous collaboration is usually the default way of working in companies where employees all work on site and/or have the same hours. The tools for this type of collaboration are:

– physical meetings and video conferences

– telephone calls,

– chat.

However, you have probably noticed that several tools can be used for both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. For example, instant messaging and e-mail where you can choose to respond to a message immediately (synchronous communication) or later (asynchronous communication).

The benefits of asynchronous collaboration

Discover the benefits of collaborating asynchronously.

Greater flexibility

With an increasing number of employees working remotely, it can be difficult to organise meetings or video conferences where all team members are present at the same time. By collaborating asynchronously, everyone can view content or respond to a message when he/she is available. This gives employees greater flexibility, and places less stress on them.

Better time management

Unlike synchronous collaboration, where you have to respond immediately to your collaborators’ messages, asynchronous collaboration allows you to respond later. You are under less pressure and avoid distractions. This means you can manage your time better and concentrate fully on your tasks, because you can respond to your team’s requests when you decide to do so, for example every two hours.

Quality exchanges

Working offline gives you the opportunity to reflect. This enables you to better formulate your ideas and write more polished messages. Rather than worrying about how to respond quickly, you can research or prepare your case to provide a precise answer or solution that will better satisfy your interlocutor. In general, asynchronous exchanges and work are of higher quality.

More suitable for remote teams

Asynchronous collaboration is naturally implemented in teams that are geographically dispersed. If some of your employees do not work in the same time zone, they will perform their tasks off-line. You can also transmit information without worrying about the time difference.

The disadvantages of asynchronous collaboration

As you might expect, asynchronous collaboration also has some disadvantages.

Lack of spontaneity

With asynchronous collaboration, it is impossible to have a live conversation, to exchange and bounce ideas off a colleague. Off-line conversations lack spontaneity.

The slow pace of exchanges

Collaborating and communicating asynchronously means that you will not get an immediate answer to your questions. You may have to wait several hours, or even days, for feedback from the other person. This can significantly slow down decision-making, your work, and the progress of the project.

Less rich relationships

Asynchronous conversations are not as rich as face-to-face exchanges. You lose that human, visual and auditory contact with the other person. It is therefore more difficult to get to know a person and to build a solid and trusting relationship with colleagues. You also lose the notion of body language, which often tells you a lot about what the other person really thinks of your idea.

To conclude

The way you work in your organisation depends on the circumstances, needs and preferences of your staff. Asynchronous collaboration will be best suited to teams whose members work remotely and/or in different time zones. But usually, teams use both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.

Synchronous or asynchronous communication: find out how to choose?

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