Asynchronous vs. Real-time collaboration. What are the pros and cons?
02 April, 2023
With the substantial increase in remote working environments, companies and their teams are likely in different geographical regions. Time zone differences leave managers and their teams working on different schedules and potentially meeting different deadlines. Both asynchronous and real-time team collaboration have their advantages and disadvantages depending on a variety of factors such as: industry, team size, time zone, location and culture.
The ideal team collaboration method, whether it’s asynchronous or real-time, depends on aspects such as having a strong team dynamic, field of work, and having an effective project manager, amongst others. Let’s compare the two types so you can decide which one is best suited for your team.
Asynchronous team work
Asynchronous collaboration happens when team members have to communicate and collaborate at different times throughout the day. It is not expected or needed that all team members are available from 9-5 pm in a specific time zone. Everyone begins work as soon as their respective workday starts. Thanks to emails, video recordings, and all-in-one project management tools like Hello Ivy, asynchronous work is possible throughout many fields.
Some pros to asynchronous collaboration are that it allows for more flexibility and works best with companies with staff in different time zones. It also give a sense of calm, not everything has to be done instantly, asap or now. You work and respond in your own time so you can get in the "zone" and become as productive as possible without all the (real-time) distractions such as Slack and constant meetings.
Cons include that this method lacks a sense of immediacy and results in a disassociation of staff members. If something needs to be done urgently it can be hard to reach each other, that's why this way of working doesn't work for every type of team.
Async working works best when everyone has a clear overview of work. They know exactly what to work on and what tasks are next. Async team work is definitely more of a independent way to work.
Real-time team work
Real-time collaboration is when team members are working on the same scheduled hours and can communicate instantly. It even goes as far to working together in the same document or whiteboard at the same time. Video calls are also part of real-time team work. Real-time collaboration works best with teams located in the same time zone or proximity and it has many pros, such as more meaningful interactions between teams and solving problems quickly.
Staff can instantly connect and solve any problems that arise swiftly and teams can brainstorm and receive feedback together. Some cons of real-time collaboration include daily interruptions, shifting priorities, and potential miscommunication with staff or stakeholders who are not in that specific time zone. Best practices for either method include recording meetings, setting clear deadlines, using detailed instructions, and using a reliable project management tool like Hello Ivy.
In short, there’s no right or wrong method of collaboration. You'll want to implement both styles for a healthy work balance. Factors such as industry, location, staff size, task complexity, who you are communicating with, and many others contribute to how best to collaborate. Determine your team’s goals and weigh the pros and cons of both methods to decide which one is best for your business.
At this moment more and more teams are starting to lean towards async team collaboration to battle burnouts and the increased work pressure. Nowadays you're always on and often due to different time zones you receive work-related messages at every time of the day, async team collaboration is something that can give team more piece of mind.