Inefficient Communication Kills Productivity
Did you know that project managers spend close to 90% of their time on average communicating with their teams, correcting misinterpretations, and offering clarifications? And they are the ones who will testify to the fact that there’s more time and effort involved in correcting miscommunications and streamlining information sharing than completing the actual task.
Yes, effective communication and collaboration is one of the most crucial factors determining the success of projects these days.
Now if you’re thinking ‘Why so much fuss about communication channels?’, here are some numbers to help build the perspective. A research by David Grossman that included 400 US-based companies, ‘The Cost of Poor Communications’, revealed that there was an annual average loss of $62.4 million per company due to inadequate communication to and between employees.
Now if that doesn’t make you want to re-evaluate your communication channels, we don’t know what will!
Controlled Channels for Better Communication
So, we understand that teams need to communicate better. But there is also something called too much communication or ‘disruptive communication’ at workplaces. Think of a colleague just popping over unannounced at your desk for a quick catch-up just when you were about to finish a very delicate task, interrupting your flow or stream of thought. Or a call after work hours to discuss something non-critical with your coworker from across the pond. These ad-hoc communication practices often do more harm than good, and there must exist a way to ensure that such occurrences stay minimal or be restricted to critical work situations only.
Thankfully, the way out already exists, and a large number of businesses are now fully embracing the wonderful potentials of – asynchronous communication channels. Today, as we establish new work cultures and processes in the post-Covid era, asynchronous communications can be especially crucial for increasing productivity and efficiency, particularly for agile project teams.
What is Asynchronous Communication
In simple terms, asynchronous communication stands for any method of communication used between project or team members where the receiver is not expected to respond immediately. The intent is to allow employees the freedom to communicate and contribute on their own schedules.
Now the platforms used for asynchronous communication can be as simple as emails or as comprehensive as project management tools. What we need to understand is that these platforms can be used both synchronously and asynchronously, depending on the requirement. But for this article, we’re going to focus on how these platforms can be leveraged to channel asynchronous communication and in turn increase the performance of the team as a whole.
How and why asynchronous communications work
Embracing asynchronous communication is the path to unlocking your team’s full potential and achieving project success in today’s dynamic and interconnected world. In a survey conducted in the US last year, about 97% of employees confirmed that communication had a huge impact on their task efficacy on a daily basis.’ So let’s dive into the benefits of switching to asynchronous communication and try to understand how they can help.
Improved Focus and Deep Work: This is the most obvious benefit linked to communicating without an expectation of immediate response. People are most productive when they are given the space and time to work creatively and without interruptions.
Did you know that a person takes close to 30 minutes to ‘get back into the flow’ once it is disrupted? Work fragmentation must be weeded out and asynchronicity in communication helps a great deal. In a world where time is literally money, even 30 minutes per employee per day translates into a lot of savings and better productivity.
Better Collaboration Between Distributed Teams: Gone are the days when all team members involved in a project worked under one roof, or at least in one timezone. Today we have global teams, diverse capabilities, and businesses functioning across different time zones. In such an environment, asynchronous communication platforms are the best option to increase collaboration without stretching out work hours.
Project management platforms and work boards allow team members to update statuses, report issues, pass on messages, share files and feedback, all in one place, and still get notified when teammates respond to them during their specific work hours.
Enhanced Documentation and Knowledge Sharing: Another key feature of asynchronous communication that makes it so valuable in project management is it allows recording and maintaining a trail of communication between team members. This paves the way for more productive discussions and decisions and also makes it easy for new team members to catch up.
Fewer Meetings, More Value: Not all meetings are fruitful, or even necessary at times (we’ve all been there!) Nevertheless, they become unavoidable especially when team members are disconnected, or there is a lack of clarity about individual task statuses and dependencies. But scheduling a meeting requires all members to be available for a particular window of time, which can be quite challenging in fast-paced work environments.
Asynchronous communication channels can solve this problem to an extent. Learning to use collaborative platforms effectively can save your company time and save you from having to attend unnecessary meetings. Moreover, video conferencing tools go a step further to bring employees from different locations together for quick meetings, and relieve employees from the expectation to be physically present.
Better Responses, Better Clarity: And finally, with asynchronous communication comes the luxury of time to gather your thoughts before responding to any messages or notifications. And studies have shown that the more clear and concise our communications are, the more effective it becomes when translated into actionable items.
Best Practices to Optimize Team Communication
Effective employee communication has many tangible and intangible benefits to the company. And there is never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to optimizing it. Synchronous communications are necessary to relay those super-urgent decisions or project updates. The key is to identify the right mix of communication platforms and processes that work best for your organization.
Here are some best practices we recommend when establishing a synchronous-asynchronous communication process for your team.
- Create a communication plan. Define what kinds of tools or platforms should be integrated with your project and identify the types of communications (based on urgency, category, or relevance) that each should carry.
- Establish response time frames. Make sure that each member of your team is aware of how much time they’re allowed to take before responding to a type of communication. A guideline must be created and shared commonly among the team so that everyone is on the same page.
- Emphasize on clarity of communication. This improves outcomes while using synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms.
- Make meetings more productive by setting agendas. This helps the team stay focused on the topics to be discussed and decisions to be made. It is also helpful to create a list of scenarios that call for meetings and who should be included in them.
It’s all about the balance
In today’s fast-paced world, asynchronous communication tools have become vital for businesses seeking efficient collaboration and seamless information sharing. From traditional email to modern video messaging platforms, each tool serves a unique purpose, catering to different communication styles and preferences. But the fact remains that synchronous communication cannot be avoided entirely. Every organization must strive to attain a balance between these two platforms while trying to use asynchronicity to their advantage as much as possible.
At Expeed, enable global teams to collaborate effectively and efficiently by integrating their processes with project management tools and customized CRMs. We make sure that your business is set up for smooth collaborations, seamless information exchange, and great project outcomes.
Prasanth is a seasoned Senior Delivery Manager with an impressive 23 years of experience in the field. Having joined Expeed in 2011, Prasanth has consistently delivered exceptional results throughout his career. With a strong foundation in technical project management, team management, risk management, and time management, he is a trusted leader in the industry. His expertise lies in Agile Project Management, where he excels at driving efficiency and innovation within project teams. Additionally, Prasanth specializes in Sustainability Software Project Management, demonstrating his commitment to environmentally responsible project execution.