Collaborating Effectively: A Guide to Asynchronous Communication
by Najette Fellache
Remote work is rapidly gaining popularity, thanks to the changing work culture and the continuously evolving technology. Not long ago, working remotely was a new and somewhat fancy term used amongst freelancers. Nowadays, big businesses and corporations are building diverse workforces across time zones, and with the recent trends set by the Pandemic, remote work culture is increasingly becoming the norm.
Our Weet Platform is leading from the front. We are on a remote transformation journey. We seek to unite teams across time zones, where great minds can share their unique and diverse stories and work together to achieve a common goal. Our screen & video collaboration software is there to nurture productivity and curb information silos through successful communication.
A case example is how we use our own Weet Platform to run operations by coordinating diverse teams of more than 50 employees across the US and Europe. My CTO and I are based in San Francisco, and the development team in France; Thanks to asynchronous video meetings, we can communicate effectively and get the different projects going. For instance, the development team can share some code with the CEO, who can review it and give feedback in the Pacific Time zone, i.e., during the normal working hours.
But what does it take to work remotely? What are the challenges, and which tools will work best for you and your business? This article is here to guide you as you navigate the world of convenience, where freedom, productivity, and work-life balance are some of the rewards.
1. Challenges of Working Remotely
As you would expect, working remotely isn’t all about the fun and excitement of setting your own schedule and working from any corner of the world. Yes, there are several benefits to it, but there’s an obvious and often overlooked dark side of remote work. Here are the major challenges:
- Time Zone Barriers – A SpringerLink research shows that the added difficulties of dividing work across multiple time zones increases the cost and effort of coordination.
- Emotional disconnection and employee disengagement – A 2017 HBR study of 1,100 employees found that most remote workers feel shunned and left out.
- Maintaining the flow of information – In one Study, 27% of the surveyed remote workers cited lack of effective communication as the number one challenge.
Luckily these are challenges that can be solved using the right blend of remote collaboration tools. Let’s look at each of these challenges.
2. Time Zone Barriers
We all have 24 hours in a day, and with more than 24 time zones (some are one hour or half an hour apart), the chances that some team members won’t attend a Zoom meeting or reply to a time-sensitive email are pretty high.
Take, for example, you have three remote employees: one located in San Francisco (GMT -7), another in Singapore (GMT +8), and the third one in American Samoa (GMT -11). Coordinating projects among the three isn’t that easy. Communication can also turn hectic, considering that Singapore is 15 hours ahead of San Francisco, and the latter is 21 hours behind Samoa.
“Working remotely, if it is to be successful, usually requires some overlap with the hours your coworkers are putting in…we’ve found that we need a good four hours of overlap to avoid collaboration delays and feel like a team.”
– Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier
Navigating these time zone barriers requires that you forge ahead and prioritize tasks/projects based on urgency. Communicating in advance at least two or more days before the deadline means that the team members in the different time zones have enough time to prepare and get the projects ready. Asynchronous means of communication is perhaps the best way to beat these time-zone restrictions, as we shall see this later on.
Also, an open culture of sharing calendars, team progress, or inconveniences as they emerge will help the project managers to plan and schedule tasks around the entire team.
3. Emotional Disconnection
The lack of human connection common with remote workers is a major cause for concern. Employees quickly feel disconnected once they can’t interact with real people or share stories and emotions in real-time. Disengagement leads to decreased productivity, which directly affects the profitability or integrity of a business or organization. According to Inc.com, businesses worldwide lose between $450 billion and $550 billion every year due to what they term as the invisible problem – employee disengagement. That is revenue in lost productivity due to employees or rather people who’ve quit without actually quitting.
“Remote employees report work conflicts taking longer than usual before they are resolved. 84% said concerns from the common workplace challenges dragged on for a few days or more. 47% admitted to letting it drag on for weeks or more.”
– 2017 HBR study
A solution to this problem is using one or more remote collaboration tools that support video messaging. Weet, our screen recording software with video and audio interaction capabilities, is multipurpose in nature. It allows you to structure any piece of information through video, audio, or screencast, and you get to deliver it most conveniently. The options to use emoticons is also an added advantage as it accompanies every message with the right tone, feelings, and emotions – this makes the conversation lively and engaging.
3. Maintaining Information Flow & Transparency
Unlike in an office setting where you can quickly approach one of the senior employees or associate for help, remote work can make it difficult to access that kind of help: from the right person at the right time. Think of a partially remote business. Say the C-suite leaders or project managers are office workers, while the other employees are freelancers. Without agile documentation of the employee conversation and communication channel, a lack of information hierarchy can quickly undermine the business or organization’s transparency and integrity.
Maintaining information flow and keeping everyone in the loop requires a centralized and easily accessible remote collaboration tool. The latter should serve the interest of all employees to ensure effective and consistent communication.
“When the bulk of your communication happens via email and the like, it doesn’t take much for bad blood to develop unless everyone is making their best effort to the contrary. Small misunderstandings that could have been nipped in the bud with the wink of an eye or a certain tone of voice can quickly snowball into drama.”
– Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, Basecamp Founders
Weet solves this transparency and information flow challenge through its open-door policy, where there’s communication across all levels. For example, the marketing team can collaborate with the executive team, and the sales team can be notified through the same channel. This develops trust and accountability among teammates.
4. Synchronous Vs. Asynchronous Communication
Now that you know the challenges of working remotely let’s compare and contrast the two major communication types used by remote teams.
|Synchronous Communication||Asynchronous Communication|
Asynchronous communication allows distributed teams to work on solo or group projects without the pressure to “always be on” just to reply to some redundant messages.
5. Making it Work for You: Asynchronous Video Meeting
When it comes to working remotely, communication is key. But communication can only be effective when you’re present and ready to engage with the other person. According to a published Rescue Time research, 35.5% of workers check their email and Instant Messaging apps every 3 minutes or less. This is a classic example of unproductivity due to over communication – common with synchronous channels. The fact that you’ve to always be online and ready to check the next notification and reply to a slack message takes away your focus and concentration for what truly matters.
On the other hand, asynchronous communication has given remote teams the freedom to be truly flexible, and the peace of mind to organize their schedule and fulfill their duties and responsibilities while still meeting deadlines. This is where Weet steals the show.
Use the Weet feedback feature to set expectations on when you want a project delivered, e.g., state the deadline.
5. About Weet
Great remote collaboration software should be all-around. Connecting remote teams, engaging them, and managing their progress isn’t a one-man show. You’ll need not only teams committed to the cause but also a smart, collaborative tool that will get the job done.
Some of the features offered on the platform include but not limited to:
- Ability to record voice and video as a viewer and ask a question by sending messages- this is done using the Weet feedback feature.
- A responsive user-interface with built-in analytics. Allows you to see who viewed your Weet Video and by how many times.
- Collaborative real-time editing is a high-in-demand feature that most messaging apps and video conferencing tools lack.
- The ability to show or hide the Weeter in the video – allows the viewer to view only the screen cast.
- Simple installation procedure- You don’t need to install anything – you need just a chrome or edge browser, that’s it!
- Ability to use video, audio, and screen comments
- Instant recording without the need for an app/plugin- Option to install a chrome extension to launch the recordings anytime for your navbar
- Dedicated users sharing and multi-players co-editing
6. Managing Your Weets
To successfully communicate with your remote teams, you’ll need to establish a channel and invite all the relevant members on board. To avoid a situation where some members take a week to update their progress, it’s recommended to set expectations on when to send/receive updates or feedback.
7. Closing Comments
It’s easy to imagine the much freedom and flexibility you and your employees will enjoy once you suddenly shift from the traditional office job to working remotely. However, this is not always guaranteed. How productive your remote business or organization is, narrows down to the level of communication and engagement that exists across the remote teams.
“From one-on-ones to quick instructional overviews, we skip lengthy emails and send a video with Weet instead. Our development team loves it! ”
Alicia ,Software Engineer
At Weet, value addition is what we strive to deliver. We understand how challenging it can get to organize all the teams or customers when working the extra hours to catch up with a busy schedule. This is the basis for which we developed our Weet platform. We wanted an excellent video collaboration tool that serves the purpose – so we could take control of our time. Add the weet extension on your browser and enjoy a fantastic video conferencing and sharing experience