Everything you need to know about asynchronous communication

By Elle Holder

8 min read

Everything you need to know about asynchronous communication
Illustration by Shiwei Li

Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote and distributed work has surged in popularity. According to a Gallup poll, in 2019 60% of employees who were remote capable worked on site. By 2023, that number had fallen to 20%. As companies continue to embrace flexible work arrangements, and with teams scattered across time zones and locations, asynchronous communication is more important than ever.

With that in mind, our aim here is to provide you with a comprehensive overview of asynchronous communication. We’ll detail its benefits, challenges, and best practices — everything you need to ensure your team thrives when using this communication style. Specifically, we’ll address its core concepts, including what it is and the various forms it takes, how it differs from synchronous communication, and the different tools you can use to achieve it.

What is Asynchronous Communication?

Asynchronous communication refers to any type of communication where there’s a timeline between sending a message and receiving the reply. Unlike synchronous communication — a phone call, for example — responses aren't expected immediately. Common forms of asynchronous communication include emails, messaging apps like Slack or Teams, project management tools like Asana and Trello, and collaboration platforms such as Google Docs or Confluence.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Communication

You’ll need to understand the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication if you want to choose the right approach for your situation. Synchronous communication happens in real-time, like phone calls or video meetings. It allows for the immediate back-and-forth of a conversation, making it an excellent choice for situations where you want or need to exchange ideas, brainstorm, or in urgent situations where things need to be quickly discussed or clarified. 

On the other hand, when using asynchronous communication, you’re allowing for time between when a message is sent and when you expect a reply. It’s an excellent choice for remote teams who just need flexibility, but it also allows for the time needed to prepare thoughtful replies on more complex issues. So more time is needed for this form of communication, but it also gives everyone on the team the opportunity and time to contribute. 

Emails, project management tools, and discussion boards are all examples of asynchronous communication. 

Benefits of Asynchronous Communication 

Beyond the obvious benefits mentioned above, consider these:

  • Flexibility: Finding a work-life balance is always important, and this type of communication can help. Employees are able to respond to messages and complete tasks at their convenience, freeing them up for personal commitments and allowing them to prioritize things around their schedules. And given the fact that many teams are global, asynchronous communication eliminates the need to schedule meetings around specific time zones, since they can contribute on their own time. 
  • Productivity: When it comes to synchronous communication, staff has to deal with constant interruptions, which often translates to a lack of focus. However, asynchronous communication means they can concentrate on their tasks without distractions, improving the quality of their work and their productivity. 
  • Inclusivity: Traditional communication methods can sometimes leave people behind — introverts will do their best to be invisible, and someone busy may not even show up. But asynchronous communication can level the playing field, giving everyone the opportunity to contribute regardless of personality or schedule. And for geographically dispersed teams, everyone has access to the same information and can participate regardless of time zone limitations.
  • Documentation: With asynchronous communication, all exchanges are automatically documented in a central location, creating a clear and easily accessible record of communication history, decisions made, and action items. This improves transparency and allows team members to easily refer back to past discussions.

Challenges of Asynchronous Communication

Of course, there are some challenges as well:

  • Delayed responses: While asynchronous communication offers flexibility, it can also lead to slower decision-making processes. Reaching consensus or resolving urgent issues might take longer without the ability for immediate back-and-forth communication.
  • Miscommunication: The lack of nonverbal cues inherent in asynchronous communication can increase the risk of misunderstandings. Sarcasm or tone might be misinterpreted through text alone, leading to confusion or hurt feelings. Additionally, the opportunity for immediate clarification is missing.
  • Information Overload: With constant notifications and message threads, asynchronous communication can easily lead to information overload. This can be overwhelming for employees and make it difficult to prioritize tasks or identify the most important information.
  • Isolation: The reduced real-time interaction that comes with asynchronous communication can lead to feelings of isolation among team members. This can be especially challenging for remote workers who lack the social connection of an in-person office environment.

Tools for Asynchronous Communication

If you want to implement asynchronous communication, you need the right set of tools. Here’s a breakdown of some popular options to consider:

  • All-in-one Platforms: Platforms like Jostle combine communication features (chat, messaging) with document storage and task management, creating a central hub for your team's asynchronous needs.
  • Communication Platforms: Tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams offer real-time and asynchronous communication options. Utilize channels for ongoing discussions, threaded messages for focused topics, and file sharing for easy collaboration.
  • Project Management Tools: Platforms like Asana, Trello, and Monday.com are great at managing tasks and projects asynchronously. Assign tasks, set deadlines, track progress, and leave comments for clear communication and collaboration.
  • Documentation Tools: Google Docs, Confluence, and similar platforms allow for collaborative document creation and editing. Team members can work on documents simultaneously, add comments and suggestions, and maintain a centralized version history.
  • Video Messaging: Tools like Loom and Vidyard enable asynchronous video communication. Record quick screencasts with voiceovers to explain complex topics, provide personalized feedback, or deliver presentations — all on your own schedule.

Best Practices for Asynchronous Communication

If you want your team to thrive in an asynchronous environment, there are several best practices you’ll want to implement.

Clear guidelines

Establish clear norms and expectations for response times and communication channels. Define what your organization considers an urgent message that requires a quick response and set reasonable time frames for responses on non-urgent matters. Additionally, designate specific channels for different types of communication — use project management tools for task discussions, team chats for informal communication, and emails for formal announcements or complex topics. This prevents confusion and ensures that everyone on the team is on the same page.

Effective writing

Since asynchronous communication relies heavily on the written word, it’s important that everyone is clear and concise when writing. Avoid jargon and ambiguity, and structure your messages logically with clear introductions, concise points, and well-defined action items. Proofread your messages carefully before sending them, and this will minimize misunderstandings.

Organized documentation 

With asynchronous communication, information can easily become scattered across various platforms, so you should clearly name documents, folders, and channels. Encourage team members to tag relevant colleagues in discussions and use features like pinning important messages for easy reference. Maintaining a well-organized, up-to-date system ensures information is easily accessible for everyone, reducing redundancy, and saving your staff the time wasted searching for past communications. 

Setting priorities 

Using priority tags and flags to highlight urgent messages can help team members manage their tasks and responses more effectively. Prioritizing messages makes it easier for everyone to focus on what’s important first instead of it getting lost or overlooked in an influx of daily communications. If something demands urgency, make sure that’s clearly indicated. 

Regular check-ins

While asynchronous communication offers flexibility, it's important to maintain a sense of team connection. Balance asynchronous communication with occasional synchronous meetings — video calls, team huddles, etc. These real-time interactions allow for brainstorming, team building, and the chance to address any issues that might arise through asynchronous communication.

Implementing asynchronous communication in your organization

Now that you understand all the reasons why asynchronous communication is important, how do you implement it? Follow these steps: 


  • Evaluate your current communication practices so you understand your existing workflows
  • Identify areas where asynchronous communication could enhance efficiency and reduce bottlenecks
  • Gather feedback from team members on their communication pain points and preferences


  • Educate everyone on the benefits of asynchronous communication, such as flexibility and increased productivity
  • Provide training on best practices, including effective writing, organized documentation, and setting priorities
  • Offer resources and workshops to help employees adapt to new tools and communication methods

Choose the right tools

  • Select tools that align with your organization’s specific needs and workflow
  • Consider factors like ease of use, integration capabilities, and scalability when evaluating tools
  • Choose a combination of platforms for messaging, project management, documentation, and video messaging to cover all communication needs

Monitoring and feedback

  • Continuously assess the effectiveness of your asynchronous communication strategy
  • Collect regular feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement
  • Make necessary adjustments based on feedback and performance metrics to ensure the strategy remains effective and relevant

Case studies and real-life examples

Finally, let’s take a look at how other organizations have successfully implemented asynchronous communication. Here are two examples:

GitLab is a software development platform with a remote-only workforce. They use methods like their Issues, where they collaborate, discuss, plan and track jobs. They also maintain an extensive handbook that serves as a single source for all company policies and procedures.

The lesson they’ve learned? Implementing and placing a strong emphasis on asynchronous communication can lead to increased productivity and employee satisfaction.

Automatic. Have you heard of WordPress? Automattic is the company behind it, and they are a fully distributed team. They use asynchronous communication through tools like Slack and P2, a WordPress theme designed for internal communication. They rely heavily on written communication and documentation to ensure all team members are aligned despite different time zones.

The lesson they’ve learned? Effective use of specialized tools like their own P2 can enhance asynchronous communication and create a sense of community despite the entire team being remote. 


After looking at the core principles of asynchronous communication, and highlighting the numerous benefits it offers for remote and distributed teams, are you convinced? 

Let’s recap. 

The benefits include increased flexibility, improved productivity, enhanced inclusivity, and automatic documentation. But it also presents challenges such as delayed responses, potential miscommunication, information overload, and feelings of isolation. However, by establishing clear guidelines, practicing effective writing, organizing documentation, setting priorities, and balancing with regular check-ins, teams can successfully deal with them. Of course, you need to choose the right tool for your organization and provide any needed training if you want a successful implementation. 

Change is constant, and there’s always a need to adapt. Asynchronous communication is a powerful tool that can help you develop and foster successful teams. So if you haven’t already, consider integrating asynchronous practices into your workflows — you might be surprised at the positive impact it can have on productivity, team morale, and overall work satisfaction.


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Elle Holder

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