Asynchronous communication is a remote thing ..! Two forms of communication post-pandemic?
Asynchronous working isn't new, but the post-pandemic world we live in is forcing our hand on how we communicate. Is this a good thing?
Many surveys in the past have shown that the secret to a motivated workforce is freedom and flexibility. Asynchronous working certainly gives you freedom - clearing your inbox when everyone else is offline and asleep, picking the kids up or running errands between clients. Communication isn't expected to be immediate, is another benefit (although I worry about the creeping temptation to micromanage here, don't you?). So, in summary so far:
- freedom and flexibility of schedule
- no expectation to reply to email instantly
- less interruptions deeper working/thinking
- reduced meeting fatigue
- better preparation for communication (English to Japanese, etc)
- better meeting preparation (action focus rather than discussion focus in the meeting)
But, we had "blurs day" during lockdown, isn't this just blurring the boundaries more? Lockdown loneliness just got worse. Asynchronous communication isn't immediate and doesn't provide the emotional cues that are so important in our daily interactions. Do you really know the intent from cold content in an email? I can feel complete miscommunication developing as we speak, especially when there are cultural differences, can't you? So, what do I recommend?
Communication in these post-pandemic times needs to be a core transformation within the company, not an individual decision. It needs to be part of the company's culture and normal behaviour. It requires complete commitment by all.
Communication type needs to be allocated to work which requires realtime interactive input, i.e. brainstorming, relationship building with colleagues, to name but a few.
This brings me to the office, or the real need for an office or, really, what the office should look like! I don't know the latest figures, but most people don't want to return to the office. They have discovered a taste for a new kind of flexibility and why not, it beats sitting on the train for two hours to do the work in an office that can be done at home. It also means we have the flexibility to create a better environment with our families, doesn't it? More communication, more sharing of the cleaning? I'm rambling. What I mean to say, is that the office should now be the area for synchronous communication. It shouldn't have desks as the main focus, it should be a market place of "shops" to increase our creativity and interaction with our colleagues before we go back to the asynchronous communication of remote working. Let's embrace the change and forge a new way forward with more flexibility for all. Agree?