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 like 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, that would be received, considered, and then responded to by the other party 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, and it’s so inundated 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’re meant to 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 really 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 has directly correlated 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 work-place torcher.
Now, imagine being an introvert on a sales team right now—one that primarily uses slack, email and other forms of async comms to brainstorm and get work accomplished. 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. You can take all 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 to do research, google a few things, and formulate a well-founded response, as opposed to firing off the first thing that comes to mind.
We all have our own natural energy rhythms, and 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’re interested in learning 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 all together, but migrating most of your communications to async tools alleviates this inevitable scheduling headache. If you want feedback on a new product launch, if you want to brainstorm a new marketing strategy, if you want to 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, and 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 comms is that everything is recorded, searchable, and archived. In synchronous comms, no matter how good your “note-taker” might be at a meeting, 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, WhatsApp, and now Voodle, every idea contributed to an async platform and thread can be found and referenced later, 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 on the other hand, a new async work tool based on short form video, keeps a record of everything, but it’s 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—but when you find the video you have a much deeper understanding of the sentiment and nuance of what was communicated, and a much greater feeling of intimacy and connectedness to that person. This is 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:
There are numerous studies at this point in the remote work revolution that 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, that 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, and 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 for the benefits of the most human form of async comms to show themselves in a variety of ways. Your team will relish in the benefits of async remote work, without having to sacrifice the culture that comes with really knowing your co-workers and really contributing in a three-dimensional human way.
Produced in Collaboration with Voodle.