Within 15 minutes of waking up, you swim through fresh emails waiting to be clicked on your smartphone. Then, nestled into your 9 a.m. meeting at the office, you probably peek at your inbox again in between conversations and presentations.
While locked into your cubicle, you sync a file to your team workspace, send a funny link to your colleague over chat, update your status on social media and brainstorm with the regional branch on a virtual whiteboard. By the end of the day, you may have streamed a live webinar and watched an on-demand webcast or joined a conference call and left a voice mail for a client.
Modern workers have the amazing capability to collaborate in and out of time now thanks to mobility, web conferencing and other technologies, and what’s more, workers don’t even notice the complexity, seams and distinctions. Without even realizing it, you maneuver through your entire workday using two completely different types of collaboration, gliding between synchronous (or real-time) and asynchronous (or near-time) communication.
When you speak to, chat or audio conference with someone, information is simultaneously delivered and received by all participants. This is synchronous collaboration, which occurs instantly and at a specific time.
The simple principle behind this collaboration type—immediacy—offers several benefits to information sharing and joint problem-solving:
- Speed: Instant interaction compels participants to collaborate right away, instead of waiting to participate on their own time, for faster information sharing and decision making. This also makes it easier to reach the right person and locate the right information instead of searching for them later. This urgency makes synchronous collaboration ideal for time-sensitive projects.
- Engagement: Synchronous collaboration retains a shared experience that can be more engaging for learning, ideation, dialogue and feedback. The synergy of face-to-face, real-time interaction fuels group innovation.
- Clarity: Real-time collaboration cuts down on inefficiencies and redundancies, increasing clarity and proving very effective for complex projects. Void of delays, participants don’t have time to forget details or duplicate work while responses wait in limbo. Real-time collaboration also tends to happen with more context, which is vital to situational awareness and aids sharper decision making.
Collaboration already happens from anywhere, but now asynchronous collaboration allows it to happen at any time. After you share a file in the cloud, send a text or drop an email, that communication is suspended and contained until the receiver chooses to collect it.
Independent of time, but driven by a shared purpose, asynchronous collaboration benefits projects with:
- Convenience: While time zones and work schedules complicate synchronous collaboration, working out of time removes collaboration barriers, making it a growing necessity to business.
- Accessibility: The flexibility of forums, on-demand videos and email increases attendance and participation. In addition, because this information is captured, recorded, stored and archived, it’s even easier to share with and open up collaboration to a larger audience’s collective knowledge. With translation capabilities, it can also prove invaluable for collaboration across languages and cultures.
- Sustainability: With a longer shelf life, time-shifted collaboration serves routine projects, project stages and task lists well. This type of collaboration provides time for users to gather information and allows them to respond when they are at their most effective and engaged. Users have more time to get it right, check for accuracy and produce more thoughtful responses.
Converging Real-Time and Near-Time Collaboration
The solution to productivity is no longer this or that—it’s this and that.
New generations, different workstyles and smarter ways to do business increasingly require organizational diversity when it comes to collaboration. Companies continue to see the benefits of telecommuting, globalization and cross-departmental collaboration for new approaches to problem-solving.
Because not every project is the same, both synchronous and asynchronous collaboration have a place in your workday. However, all of the choices and places to check for new information can be overwhelming.
This is why the future of work is a unified collaboration platform, allowing users to effortlessly and seamlessly toggle between collaboration types, creating a richer collaboration experience. This streamlined solution lets companies and teams realize even more value from their collaboration tools.
To connect, collaborate and get work done with simplicity and everywhere-access, learn about PGi’s collaboration solutions today.