The gap between synchronous & asynchronous communication in remote work

Remote work is all about async...

It's the motto that everyone seems to aspire to. And it's spread everywhere—from the likes of Gitlab, Basecamp and more

Async only. Asynchronous communication is what remote work is all about..

I'm definitely not here to tell you about how async communication is so great. Or how synchronous is so great in remote work.

As much as asynchronous or async only remote teamwork is aspired to with all its benefits—the reality is that synchronous or sync communication will always exist. And why 'async-first' is a more apt approach.

We are human after all. We like talking to each other in real time. We like laughing together. Riffing off of each other. And sometimes just feeling present and together.

Async communication can provide all this but not to a fuller extent. Just like how sync comms cannot fully offer the flexibility, inclusivity and freedom that async comms offers.

The question is not then which is better or worse. Or how you can go all in or not on async

Like most things, it’s a balance.

How do you find the right balance between async and sync?

Balancing two interconnected things often requires switching between them as frequently as needed—at right amount on both sides. Maybe 70% async and 30% sync is the right balance for your team.

However, if it’s hard 30% of the time when you need to switch to sync— balancing will be hard. And communication going out of balance can be detrimental to the team.

Here’s an example. Imagine you are a tennis player (I don't play, but was inspired after reading this book). You want to balance having a good forehand stroke with a good backhand.

Forehand is easy for you but you still need to practice your backhand. When you are practicing, you do fine with each stroke separately. But to be a great player and win, you need to be able to switch between the two strokes seamlessly.

The goal isn't how well you use one stroke or another or how much of either stroke you use. The goal is to rally and win real games.

It’s no different working together as a remote team in a fast paced environment. Your team needs to be able to switch modes quickly and seamlessly to truly go above and beyond.

Solving the communication gap

Despite the advantages of productivity, flexibility and freedom of remote work—the problems are still glaring. Feelings of isolation, meeting overload, maintaining trust, social motivation and team cohesion... They all remain critical challenges to be solved.

Communication gaps are the root causes of these problems. The frictions around scheduling calls, texting back and forth, unproductive meetings and zoom fatigue—are all making it worse instead of being the solutions.

We believe seamlessly closing the communication gap between async and sync collaboration is the key in solving these problems.

It's what will separate ok remote teamwork from awesome remote teamwork.

It's why we are building Presence.

Let's close the collaboration gap of async and sync remote teamwork.

And let's make remote teamwork awesome 🙌

Junu Yang

Hi, I’m one of the founders & designers of Presence. I dream of robots, farming and remote teamwork. Meerkat is my spirit animal 👋