Niklaus Gerber

March 27, 2023

The Benefits of Prioritising Asynchronous Communication in the Workplace

As someone who has observed real-time communication challenges in the modern workplace, prioritising asynchronous communication can lead to happier and more productive employees. The pressure to always be available and responsive can lead to unnecessary stress and burnout. People must be online and in as many meetings as possible to ensure they get all the meaningful discussions and decisions. This constant availability also means that workers need more control over their schedules. They spend their days attending meetings and responding to requests instead of proactively setting their agenda, which can lead to rushed work and lower-quality output.

Moreover, real-time communication can lead to lower-quality discussions and sub-optimal solutions. When people are expected to respond immediately, they don’t have enough time to think through critical issues thoroughly and provide thoughtful responses. As a result, the first response to any situation will not be the best solution.

Studies have shown that workplace interruptions lead to more stress, frustration, and effort. People often cope by working a "second shift" in the evening when they know they won't be interrupted. This type of synchronous culture can quickly lead to burnout.

On the other hand, asynchronous communication allows people to work on their schedules and respond thoughtfully to essential issues. Some companies are embracing a more asynchronous approach to collaboration, and there are several benefits to this way of working. One of the main benefits is that employees have more control over their workday, leading to happier and more productive employees. In an async environment, there are no set work hours, and employees have total control over how they structure their workday to fit their lifestyles and responsibilities.

Another benefit is that async communication incentivises higher-quality communication over knee-jerk responses. People have the time to think through a particular problem or idea and provide more thoughtful responses. This leads to fewer unthinking outbursts and, ultimately, higher-quality work.


Advanced planning is necessary when last-minute requests aren't an option, leading to less stressful collaborations and better-quality work. Deep work becomes the default because employees can block off large chunks of uninterrupted time to do the work that creates the most value for the organisation.

Documentation and greater transparency become automatic because most communication happens in writing; critical discussions and essential information are documented automatically. In addition, collaboration across time zones is seamless, putting in-office and remote employees on the same footing.

However, balancing asynchronous and synchronous communication is crucial to building personal connections and rapport with team members. Therefore, while tools like Slack can be useful for quick contact, we should prioritise asynchronous communication whenever possible. As a result, we can improve productivity, reduce stress and burnout, and ultimately achieve better results by reducing interruptions and allowing for more focused work.

In my experience, asynchronous communication has pros and cons, and balancing it with synchronous communication is crucial. It takes more than written communication to build rapport and personal relationships.

We use synchronous communication to build rapport with people, provide critical feedback or discuss sensitive topics, brainstorm different ideas and solutions, quickly bring everyone on the same page, or in a crisis that requires immediate attention.

I believe synchronous communication should be the exception, not the rule. Moving from synchronous to asynchronous communication takes time and effort. However, as an individual or team leader, there are concrete steps you can take to promote asynchronous communication. 

For example, over-communicating by providing as much information as possible, planning to give people time to consider your message, saying no to unnecessary meetings, and documenting discussions and outcomes after sessions. You can also turn off notifications and use waiting time productively.

As a team leader, you can promote writing and communication as core skills, evaluate people based on their output and results, abolish required work hours or office requirements, emphasise trust, organisation, independence, and accountability, adopt a Direct Responsible Individual (DRI) model for management and decision-making, set reasonable team-wide expectations for acceptable response times, and make transparency and documentation a priority. 

You can also use tools that promote transparency, deep work, and asynchronous communication and have communication channels for emergencies.

In my experience, these steps can help move your team towards asynchronous communication and improve productivity and efficiency. While not all roles are conducive to asynchronous communication, blocking off chunks of time for deep work and implementing a rotating coverage system can help balance communication-heavy roles. 

Ultimately, the goal is to reduce back-and-forths, build trust, and empower individuals to work more efficiently and independently.

About Niklaus Gerber

My thoughts on leadership, life, productivity, design, and innovation.