A Complete Guide to Digital Communication
for Remote Teams

How to Best Implement Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication for Maximum Productivity and Efficiency?

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Table of contents


Remote work is a growing trend that has become a permanent reality for many due to improvements in technology and global events.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 77% of people want to continue to work from home after the coronavirus pandemic is over, and 25 - 30% of people will be working remotely multiple days per week by the end of 2021. But whether or not remote work is the future of business has yet to be seen.

As we run a global experiment on whether or not remote work can become the new norm, the focus sharpens on how to improve processes to increase the productivity and efficiency of remote, distributed teams. And effective communication is at the forefront of these discussions.

The ability to communicate effectively makes or breaks the success of a team. This is why we created this guide, with practical knowledge and wisdom on digital communication for remote teams based on our own experience as an internationally distributed, remote working team of 50+ employees.

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Asynchronous Communication in Remote Work

“There is a time and a place for everything, including synchronous and asynchronous communication while working remotely.”

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication is communication that does not happen in real time. It is email, or notes posted to an online bulletin. This is different from synchronous communication, or communication that does happen in real time like a face-to-face meeting, company meeting on Zoom, or an active chat room.

Common examples of asynchronous communication include:

Discussion Forums
Task Management Systems
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Asynchronous Communication in Remote Work

“Make sure everyone is one the same page in terms of what app to use for which tasks. People need to know what goes where.”

Decide on Your Asynchronous Communication Modes

First, consider the modes of communication you want to use. The basic async communication modes you want to consider for your team are as follows:

A place to make and keep notes containing everything from full article drafts to async brainstorming sessions.
Task Management
A good tool for communicating async status updates, action assignments, and even in-progress notes.
Discussion Forum
A great place for teams to post status updates and share long-form ideas.
Everyone has it; everyone uses it. So, we’re not going to say much about this one or even recommend apps for it. Whatever you’re already using probably works just fine.

Group Communication by Context

Make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of what app to use for which tasks. People need to know where things go. Team members should be clear on where to post status reports, task items, brainstorm sessions, work drafts etc.

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Synchronous Communication in Remote Work

“Meeting with someone instantly feels more personal than sending an email. That is why certain scenarios require synchronous communication over asynchronous communication.”

What is synchronous communication?

As mentioned before, synchronous communication is communication that happens in real time. Like a face-to-face meeting, a company meeting on Zoom, or an active chat room. Synchronous communication happens when you send a message and the recipient processes the information and provides an immediate response.

Common examples of synchronous communication include:

In-person Meetings
Video Conferencing / Screen-sharing
Voice Conferencing
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How to Best Implement Synchronous Communication

“A wire-connected headphone is best because bluetooth has some latency, but at minimum you should use something like AirPods.”

Have Face-to-Face Time

Including face-to-face time in your remote work communication routine is important for team cohesion and morale. Meeting people face-to-face or, better yet, in person forms healthy bonds between team members and helps people put faces to names in the largely digital environment of a remote workplace.

Encourage Chat Best Practices

Some chat best practices for grouping communication by context are as follows:

  • Post in the correct channels or chat rooms to maintain communication traffic.
  • Use tags to notify importance and use them judiciously and maintain context with quotes.
  • Consolidate messages for efficient communication.
  • Minimize extensive conversations with voice or video calls.

Establish Audio and Video Call Guidelines

Audio-only or Video and Audio?

Some other audio and video call tips include:

  • Don’t be afraid to share your screen
  • Use headphones

For more remote work communication best practices and a Remote Work Communication Checklist, download the full guide below.

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