Remember those combat movies of yesteryear, where the heroes would gather just before the mission to synchronize their watches? You’ve probably never had to do that in real life because modern clocks – especially on smartphones – are already in sync with most other digital clocks on the planet.
When you call someone, you’re initiating a synchronous communication. It’s synchronous because the other party hears the conversation in real-time. Other methods of communications, such as letters, emails, and texts are asynchronous communications. That means there’s a time lag between when the message is sent and when the message is received.
As technology started to transform how we work, asynchronous communication, such as email and voicemail, was seen as the best way to maintain productivity. Let people stay focused on their task at hand, so the thinking went, and they could get to their messages when they had time.
But then asynchronous became a roadblock to productivity and workers wanted instant answers, and now synchronous is becoming popular again.
Over the past decade, companies have moved to chat as an email alternative. A big advantage of chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams is that you can limit your contacts to a critical group, which greatly improves the signal to noise ratio. Remote team members can instantly contribute by attaching files and creating better results for everyone. Plus, the increased speed makes it much closer to synchronous communication and everyone still has the option to put their chat app on silent.
But there’s still a missing ingredient.
The Reality of Modern Collaboration
As more workers telecommute, companies save on office space and overhead costs and workers get flexibility. However, remote workers tend to feel disconnected[ii] from their office-based colleagues, which is related to their inability to adequately communicate.
Instead, companies should strive to foster face-to-face interactions between remote workers and their in-office colleagues and supervisors. This can be facilitated with modern video conferencing. Done right, a video conferencing system not only overcomes a remote worker’s sense of isolation, but makes them just as collaborative and present as the office-based employee.
Lessons of the Cave
When you get down to it, cave dwellers, 40,000 years ago, were using an early version of the whiteboard as they created those drawings of animals and hunting techniques. Those torch-lit collaborations hit on a winning formula. Today, they would be video conferencing with other caves in remote regions, sharing ideas, being in sync, and perhaps addressing bigger problems than tomorrow’s hunt.
Of course, asynchronous communications is suited to tackle many types of business issues such as order fulfillment and legal document exchange. Synchronous communications can be converted into asynchronous assets as teams will sometimes need to record video conference sessions for playback and study by people who couldn’t attend the meeting.
Talk to Highfive
Highfive’s primary mission is helping you create a near in-room experience for your remote and mobile workers as your geographically dispersed teams collaborate in real-time. With advanced digital cameras and mics, your whole team will be fully present, whether virtually or physically. Highfive also ensures free and unlimited cloud-based video and audio recording and storage. We focus on getting you back to synchronous communications, while recognizing asynchronous communications still has its place.
Talk to Highfive about keeping your teams closely connected by using the latest techniques and technology in video conferencing.
[i] CNBC, “4 simple tips to help you tame your email inbox in 2019,” Dec 2018
[ii] Harvard Business Review, “A Study of 1,100 Employees Found That Remote Workers Feel Shunned and Left Out,” Nov 2017