Why Digital Nomads Thrive Using Asynchronous Communication
by Krista Bugden
If you’ve worked in a 9 to 5 office, you may have experienced work ‘emergencies.’ Maybe you had to work late or put in extra hours on the weekend. You worked in sync with your coworkers to get things back on track. Or perhaps you have numerous meetings throughout your workday — which is something you dread. You find it disrupts your workflow and throws your entire day off track.
Ever heard of asynchronous communication?
With asynchronous communication, it’s rare for an urgent ‘emergency’ to occur. Endless meetings won’t take over your workday, eliminating that wrench that interferes with your workflow. With this type of communication, everyone has the mindset of planning ahead. Things don’t drag or fall behind. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?
Let’s dive into asynchronous communication. What is it exactly? Why do digital nomads love it? And should you introduce it to your colleagues?
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication involves moving projects forward and getting things done without everyone having to be available to communicate at the same time. In other words, I can send you an email, but I don’t expect an immediate response. In turn, you can create a reply when the time is right for you. Our schedules don’t need to line up perfectly. We don’t need a set meeting time.
Basically, information is exchanged or passed along independent of time itself. This means I can work on my own schedule and you can work on your own schedule. This type of communication never requires immediate attention, meaning no one needs to disrupt their workflow or day by responding ASAP.
And digital nomads have embraced this form of communication wholeheartedly. It allows teams to work in different time zones while still maintaining a high level of productivity. But that’s not the only reason why digital nomads love asynchronous communication.
The Reasons Why Digital Nomads Love Asynchronous Communication
Many digital nomads have built their work around their lifestyle. Yet, asynchronous communication isn’t just beneficial for this reason. It can also foster more productivity and help improve business-client relations. How? We’ve got all the reasons below.
- It Helps Promote Mindful Communication
Since asynchronous communication means that you have time to answer, you can create a more thoughtful response. You can step back and take the time to process and perceive the information from different angles, allowing you to come up with the best approach or solution.
Why does this matter and what does this mean? Usually, this means there’s less drama in the workplace. You or the respondent may avoid overreactions since there is no pressure to answer immediately. This also means there are no urgent issues or emergencies (to both clients and the team’s relief!).
Sahil, the founder of Gumroad, tweeted about the benefits of asynchronous communication amongst his team by saying, “All communication is thoughtful. Because nothing is urgent (unless the site is down), comments are made after mindful processing and never in real-time. There’s no drama.”
That way, you and your clients or team members can truly enjoy your work, without negative waste interrupting your day or your life. Everyone ends up happier and potentially even more productive, leading to your next reason!
- It May Boost Productivity
If you’re not careful, emails and meetings can end up crowding your workday. When all is said and done, you might find that you’re left with very little time to focus on big projects or tasks. The constant interruptions may also mean that tasks take longer than necessary (Did you know it takes about 20-25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption?).
Asynchronous communication offers a complete solution to this problem. This style of communication doesn’t involve set meeting times or a need for you to check your emails in the middle of your day (whether you’re working or not).
This means that you can get into the ‘flow’ or ‘zone’ for work, flying through your to-do list and getting important tasks or projects done. These uninterrupted spaces of time are invaluable. They not only make you feel more productive but also likely make you that much more productive, reducing the time spent getting back on task after disruptions.
- It Forces Proactivity Over Reactivity
In an ideal world, your business should be solving problems, not creating new ones. In a reactive work environment where others expect an answer as soon as possible, reactivity is going to be high. There’s less time to process information. This means that many individuals may respond with their initial instinct, which isn’t always the most helpful.
In fact, this can end up being counterproductive. In an effort to react quickly, proactivity and planning suffer. The best solution isn’t necessarily sought out under pressure and reactive behaviors. You may spend most of your time putting out fires as opposed to planning ahead for different scenarios.
But again, asynchronous communication gives space between the situation and the response. It allows that careful processing and planning to take place. It gives you time to assess the details and truly come up with a solution or response that works. Consequently, you’re likely going to be more proactive than reactive, which fosters good relations and continues to keep projects moving forward.
- It Eliminates Meeting Times and Time Zone Limitations
If you have a meeting at 4 pm (EST) but are trying to live that nomad life in Bali, this may lead to scheduling conflicts. You would have to attend this meeting super early in the morning, potentially half-asleep. This isn’t ideal for you, your team members, or clients.
Asynchronous communication comes to the rescue again! This style of communicating eliminates meeting times and allows you to work as a team or with clients in different time zones. You can then plan your day according to your productivity levels and happiness, as opposed to others’ schedules.
- It Reduces Stress for Both Teams and Clients.
Research indicates that stress can greatly impact productivity. And this can come from synchronous communication where you’re expected to answer immediately or attend meetings at set times. It can leave you wondering when you’ll have time for your own tasks or projects if there is any time left after these meetings and emails.
It also creates the idea that ‘emergencies’ can happen and that things are constantly urgent. While a few of us may thrive in this type of environment, most of us don’t or many of us may eventually succumb and crush under the pressure.
Asynchronous communication takes the pressure off. It takes away that stress of needing to answer right away. You can focus on the task at hand, or even take the day off and answer later if you so choose. In turn, this can again lead to increased happiness, well-being, and productivity.
- It Creates Documentation for Reference.
Are you finding yourself searching the depths of your mind for those exact words your co-worker or client used in the last meeting? With asynchronous communication, you won’t have to. Since you’re communicating on different time schedules, everything is recorded via video or text. This is great for those that love notes to refer back to and that is detail-oriented, ensuring everything gets done right the first time.
How to Switch to Asynchronous Communication?
Surprisingly, many digital nomads have claimed that you’re not truly a remote worker unless you use asynchronous communication. This style of communication grants freedom when it comes to your time — often the main reason why many individuals chose to become a digital nomad in the first place. So, how can you begin including more asynchronous communication in your work life?
Managing expectations is a big one here. When onboarding clients, ensure you set expectations that emails will be responded to within 24-48 hours; not right away. If you work part of a remote team, you can also bring up your ideas to your boss or co-workers. Perhaps they also find meetings are a waste of time and disruptive as well. Maybe the person presenting would be best to record a video or write a memo or newsletter for everyone to read in their own time. At the same time, it’s likely best to breach this topic from the productivity perspective — that it would benefit you and others to have uninterrupted time to complete other important tasks.
All in all, asynchronous communication has a ton of benefits. There are multiple reasons that more workplaces and more digital nomads have begun to embrace this style of communication. It takes the pressure off of responding to others immediately and puts your focus on the real work at hand (as well as activities that nurture productivity through enhanced well-being). And if you really want to escape the confines of time when it comes to work, asynchronous communication styles will help you do just that.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.
Krista Bugden is a professional freelance writer, with an Honours Bachelor Degree in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. Before pursuing a full-time writing career and the digital nomad life, Krista worked as a Kinesiologist at a health clinic in Ottawa, Canada for many years. When not spending her time writing, Krista enjoys hiking, camping, trying new foods, and planning her next adventure.