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The best communication style for hybrid working

By Rachel Flynn

Hybrid working means the luxury of popping over to a fellow employee’s desk for a quick question or query is much less common - but does that have to be a bad thing?

There are two main forms of communication in the workplace - synchronous and asynchronous. Though they may sound like slightly corporate jargon, their meanings are simple. Here’s how you can make the most of them.

What are synchronous and asynchronous communication styles?

Synchronous communication is where there is an exchange in real-time, like weekly team meetings and team-building activities. On the other hand, asynchronous communication is online and by nature demands a response time - such as through messaging platforms like Slack, video messages via Loom or the simple and timeless email.

But which one works best for hybrid working models? The simple answer is a bit of both. Let's see how.

While synchronous communication is generally exchanged in real-time, this doesn’t exclude all digital forms of communication. Instant messaging through content channels like Slack is classed as synchronous, as responses (especially when tagged) can be as quick, or even quicker, than a face-to-face conversation.

1. Asynchronous communication empowers the employee

Examples of asynchronous communication such as Slack, emails and Loom, put the power back in the hands of the employee. Allowing employees the time and breathing space to respond not only creates a better general working environment but improves the quality of the response.

Though this may not always be the case when urgent answers are needed, asynchronous communication creates an important relationship of trust between manager and employee. Feeling like you need to reply instantly could also lead to burnout and the dreaded phenomenon of quiet-quitting.

2. Hybrid working has pushed asynchronous communication into the mainstream

By nature, communication is asynchronous. Nobody is working on the exact same thing at the exact same time, and this has only increased in hybrid working models.

At the core of asynchronous communication is its flexibility. Hybrid working allows people in different time zones to be part of the same team - meaning synchronous communication is sometimes impossible, and asynchronous communication is the only way.

3. Both styles of communication require more niceties in hybrid working models

An important thing to remember in hybrid working models is that communication needs that extra bit of thought.

Employees need to feel adequately respected and have their efforts rightfully validated - which takes a little more than a 👍, whether that’s in real-time or a follow-up email.

4. Synchronous communication can be a lot more time-consuming ⏰

The average employee spends 12 hours of the working week preparing for and attending meetings - that’s over a third of a 35hr week.

Asynchronous communication allows employees to bash through emails and planning at a time that’s convenient for them.

Though we don’t wish any work emergencies on you, they’re inevitable, and synchronous communication is at its best when meaningful and urgent communication is necessary.

5. 100% async communication could lead to a loss of company culture

Though the flexibility of async communication is incredibly convenient for hybrid working models, zero real-time connection could result in a loss of company culture.

Employees are more likely to feel connected to their teams if communication is consistent and meaningful. So, although async communication is incredibly convenient and suitable for hybrid working models, it certainly isn’t the only way.

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