Async vs. Sync Communication: What’s the Right Mix for Your Team?

January 25, 2024

Most agencies operate during a regular “9-to-5” schedule (or maybe sometimes 9-to-9, we’ve all been there). During those hours, everyone is online simultaneously. But with 28.2% of workers operating in a remote work or hybrid work model, people are getting used to remote collaboration and working asynchronously.

This can be—suffice to say—a lot to undertake as a project manager. For example, figuring out when a remote team member is available without interrupting their work can cause unnecessary cognitive load. Another example: Keeping your team engaged with projects—and the company—may be difficult when remote collaboration isn’t prioritized.

So, how do you effectively streamline work within your team without sacrificing culture or clarity?

Balancing async vs. sync communication.

Although playing this balancing game can be a tough cookie to crack, here are the strategies that can help you manage async vs. sync communication, whether you’re working remote or operating in a hybrid work model.

But first, what exactly are we talking about when we say “async vs. sync”?

What’s the Difference Between Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Communication?

Synchronous Communication

Synchronous communication means communicating in real time. When you get a task, you write a message about it immediately to your colleague and they respond within minutes. 

The norm at most agencies is synchronous communication. To put it simply: Meetings, meetings, meetings.

Synchronous communication is effective for collaborative meetings and solving problems together with creativity. The stakeholders of that project need to be present to move forward. 

Synchronous Communication Examples

  • Meetings
  • Live conference calls on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet
  • Instant messaging (with the expectation of an immediate reply)
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Interviews
  • “Water cooler talk”
  • Facilitated whiteboarding session (live)
  • Live workshops & training

Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous is the opposite of synchronous communication. The idea is simple: Asynchronous communication occurs when the sender and recipient are not available at the same time, and you need to update each other. Think of it like Email vs. Instant Messaging.

With asynchronous communication, you can involve stakeholders in different time zones and retain previous knowledge throughout the company’s growth cycles. 

Even when you are in the same time zone, everyone’s circadian rhythm is unique. One of the best tools for remote workers is Async. This tool gives teammates the freedom to work during their “flow time,” a 60-90 minute window where your brain operates at peak efficiency.

In this case, you can send a quick scheduled Slack message or a Loom explaining new feedback on a project. Or you may use a remote collaboration tool like Punchlist to exchange feedback on a website design. Think of this like “passing the ball back and forth,” except these passes may take place during each person’s preferred time of day.

Whichever form of communication you use (audio, video, written, etc.), asynchronous messages must be clear, direct, and detailed enough to avoid creating blockers.

Asynchronous Communication Examples

  • Slack channel with project updates to make sure nothing gets missed
  • Updating project milestones via a Notion page, Asana board, Monday workspace, Trello board, or other project management tools
  • Notion hub for a project
  • Google Drive folder
  • Google Docs where teammates can comment
  • Weekly company updates sent via Loom or recorded presentation
  • Pre-meeting summary agenda via Google Doc
  • Daily scrum updates via Slack bot such as Status Hero
  • Commenting on a web design project or PDF file using Punchlist
  • Any form of messaging where an immediate reply is not required

Pros and Cons: Async vs. Sync Communication

Synchronous Communication


Synchronous communication can be a powerful tool for fostering collaboration. Some of the benefits of synchronous communication include:

  • Instantaneous feedback
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Understanding of nuances, i.e. tone, expression, and intent
  • Helping foster relationships
  • Reducing miscommunication


However, synchronous communication also has its drawbacks.

It can lead to a lack of inclusivity among those not in the same time zone or office. Plus, it can be detrimental for new team member onboarding, as there’s only partial documentation available to review. 

Not to mention, is a “quick sync” ever really “quick”? How many times at 5 p.m. do you realize that your day is completely lost to meetings? And you aren’t actually able to do any focused work until the evening?

Employees must be careful not to fall prey to old ways. Avoid overbooking synchronous meetings when there are other ways to achieve the same outcome, like using remote work tools.

Here are some other misgivings of synchronous communication:

  • Constrains time
  • Time zone management
  • Reduced flexibility
  • Interrupts workflow
  • Technical hurdles
  • Steep learning curve to using new tools

Asynchronous Communication


Likewise, asynchronous communication has its pros and cons. Here are a few pros:

  • Flexibility and convenience
  • Increased productivity
  • More documentation and traceability
  • Collaboration inclusivity

In addition, asynchronous communication can increase productivity within your team by catching everyone in their ideal flow state. Everyone trusts everyone else to get their work done when they’re at their best, which enhances remote collaboration.

Asynchronous communication can also reduce burnout because employees don’t have to be switched on all the time. This is something that continues to plague creative teams, with nearly 75% of all employees experiencing burnout at some point. Asynchronous communication and working remotely give creatives a chance to let their creativity flourish.

Going asynchronous also helps set boundaries and prevents the “shoulder tap syndrome.” This is where you feel constantly pulled away from the project you’re trying to focus on because someone needs you to look at their item now.

Finally, asynchronous communication encourages thorough documentation, since you’re inherently recording updates, video overviews, or step-by-step processes. Without this documentation, different stakeholders may fail to see the big picture of what you’re working on, and you may double efforts in the future to retrace what happened. 

In asynchronous communication, transparency is key. It’s a bit more effort, but it truly can encourage genuine collaboration and productivity within a team.


As always, we’re here to keep it real. Here are some of the drawbacks of asynchronous communication.

  • Delayed response times
  • Limited real-time collaboration
  • Misinterpretation of tone
  • Potential for overlooking critical issues
  • Reliance on technology

How to Achieve a Good Mix of Async & Sync Communication

Some managers believe a 60-40 split is the right balance (60% asynchronous, 40% synchronous) for a productive, modern team.

Other companies push it as far as an 80-20 split, optimizing for deep work and only reserving syncs for weekly planning meetings, company all-hands, and 1-on-1s. 

However, there’s no one-size-fits-all with async vs. sync communication. Depending on the type of projects you work on, and whether or not you’re managing external stakeholders, this spectrum will vary. It’s important to include your team to achieve the right hybrid work environment mix, increase productivity, and improve mental health. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind though when you are trying to strike that perfect balance: 

  • Before you decide to bring async communication into your team, talk to team members one-on-one about what works best for them.
  • Incorporate status updates on projects so there is always documentation available about what has been and what needs to be done.
  • Discuss goals, deliverables, and specifics before you let your team members work asynchronously and begin remote collaboration to iron out the nitty-gritty details.
  • Get the right software tools like Slack or Teams, Google Drive, Asana, and Loom. This allows everyone to update projects on their own time, so when someone else jumps on, they know exactly where things left off.

A few other tools to consider are Notion for the company and department documentation, Calendly to quickly schedule meetings without back-and-forth, for consolidating video feedback, and of course…

Your friendly neighborhood Punchlist.

Having the Best of Async & Sync Communication With Punchlist

Punchlist is the perfect tool to help you balance your asynchronous and synchronous workplace communication, no matter if your team members are working remotely or if they are in a hybrid work environment.

Our feedback management tool helps organizations get feedback more efficiently while eliminating project disorder. No need to hop on a call or look over someone’s shoulder. Punchlist works for both synchronous and asynchronous teams with real-time feedback notes, documentation, and status updates all in one place.

No disrupting creatives from their workflow. No spreadsheet chaos. Just streamlined remote collaboration with effective remote teamwork.

Interested? Sign up for Punchlist today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is asynchronous & synchronous communication?

Asynchronous communication refers to a mode of interaction where participants do not need to be present simultaneously. In this method, exchanges occur at different times, allowing individuals to respond when it's convenient for them. 

Synchronous communication, on the other hand, involves real-time interaction where participants engage simultaneously. This can take place through methods like video calls, phone calls, or instant messaging. 

What does working remotely mean?

Working remotely refers to the practice of carrying out work tasks and responsibilities from a location outside the traditional office setting. Remote work tools allow individuals to perform their job duties from various locations, such as their homes, co-working spaces, or any place with a reliable internet connection.

What does hybrid work mean?

The hybrid work model represents a flexible approach to work that combines elements of both office-based and remote work. In a hybrid work environment, employees have the option to split their time between working in a physical office and remotely from a location of their choice. This model acknowledges the benefits of in-person collaboration while embracing the advantages of working remotely.

How do you collaborate effectively if your team is remote?

Here are some strategies for effective remote collaboration:

  • Utilize digital collaboration tools
  • Establish clear communication protocols
  • Plan regular virtual meetings
  • Set clear goals and expectations
  • Foster a culture of open communication
  • Leverage asynchronous communication
  • Provide clear documentation
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Encourage Feedback
  • Implement feedback and collaboration tools like Punchlist

Which tool provides a way for teams to increase communication?

Many tools improve communication between team members, but the most used ones are messaging apps and feedback tools that streamline the creative and QA process like Punchlist.