Asynchronous vs Synchronous Collaboration: How Online Whiteboards Achieve Both.

Collaboration is an everyday workplace occurrence and sometimes happens just by muscle memory. Asynchronous collaboration is becoming more and more prevalent with the emergence of remote teams and is a style of collaboration that many people know very little about. In this article, we will explain the difference between synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, discuss multiple use cases for each, and demonstrate how online whiteboards are key to facilitating both.

Synchronous Collaboration Explained

Synchronous collaboration is what we think of when collaboration is mentioned. It involves people or teams working together in real-time to accomplish a goal. Often this is face-to-face, but it’s also common over a video conferencing call or a phone call.

Before many teams shifted to a remote or hybrid workspace, most collaboration happened in person. Having a one on one chat, a group brainstorm, or a daily meeting all falls under the umbrella of synchronous collaboration. Even when these things happen without being in someone’s physical presence, it’s still considered synchronous collaboration. The only requirement is that everyone works together simultaneously.

While many remote tools have seemingly taken over the modern workplace, most organizations would argue that synchronous collaboration is still the most effective way to involve people and run an efficient team. It might just be that the biggest evolution to happen in the last two years is that visual collaboration is facilitated with online tools rather than in-person.

Synchronous Collaboration Examples

In-Person

As previously stated, working in person is the most common form of collaboration and is the go-to method for synchronous collaboration. Working in person allows you to communicate ideas immediately with people through speech and non-verbal cues. This ability to communicate easily is something that can’t be taken for granted as it can be much harder when collaborating online.

Video Conferencing

Another extremely common form of collaboration is through video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google meet. This requires all collaborators to be available and have access to a remote device to join the meeting, but allows them to access it from anywhere. Video calling is required when you’re collaborating as part of a remote team or in need of a quick solution.

Telephone

Using a regular phone call is another way that people can collaborate synchronously, and has only become more outdated since web conferencing tools became the norm. The only thing that phones lack is a visual element to share your screen or document information collaboratively.

Messaging

While largely considered an asynchronous collaboration technique, messaging can create a synchronous environment is both people are messaging in real-time. This is a less efficient means of synchronous collaboration because the communication back and forth can be stunted and relies on a quick response.

The biggest change to synchronous collaboration in the remote era is the drastic increase in the number of people who collaborate online but maintain a synchronous solution. Mainly through video conferencing, the amount of people collaborating hasn’t gone down thanks to their ability to create a collaborative environment from anywhere. Being able to collaborate from anywhere is one of the big advantages of online whiteboards and also with remote tools in general.

Asynchronous Collaboration Explained

Asynchronous collaboration is a less common method of collaboration and often isn’t even considered collaboration. It involves people working with each other but not together, collaborating on their own schedules until an end result is reached. Mainly, asynchronous collaboration occurs when people need to get things done on independent schedules or they can’t be present with each other.

Asynchronous collaboration is mainly made possible by the ability of people to work from different places, and in some cases, different sides of the world. When teams are required to collaborate from different sides of the planet, they almost have no choice but to find an asynchronous collaboration solution. Each member can contribute as part of the team and build to an end result completely separate from the other members.

While this style of collaboration is possible, the communication gap between individuals makes it much harder to accomplish complex goals when collaborating asynchronously.

Asynchronous Collaboration Examples

Email Exchanges

Most people wouldn’t even recognize emails as a form of collaboration, but this is one of the original ways to collaborate on the internet. It’s super common to use email as a forum to send projects back and forth, ask for advice or assistance on a certain task, or provide feedback on a given proposal. While all of these things seem like simple communication, they’re actually forms of asynchronous collaboration.

Voice Memos

Voice memos are a way you can blend the communicative ability of video calling with the asynchronous nature of messaging. Recording your voice, opinions, and questions is a good way to communicate all of your needs in a short and efficient message. Especially when you have a lot of questions but don’t need immediate feedback this is a good way to pose them.

Shared Documents

One of the most common forms of collaboration is through shared documents. Usually, through a forum like Google Docs or Notion, teams can edit and comment on documents asynchronously and integrate these changes on their own schedules. This is an ideal forum for building a presentation or writing a brief when you can’t directly communicate with your team.

Private Messaging

Just as messaging could be a form of synchronous collaboration, it also is very commonly used as asynchronous collaboration. Sending messages back and forth through a tool like Slack is similar to email but usually has a less professional tone and quicker response time. That being said, it’s still an easy way for people to share information and collaborate on separate schedules.

Asynchronous collaboration hasn’t always been popular, and only recently with the explosion of remote workplace tools has it become more normal. Even so, it can provide a useful platform for people that don’t have the chance to communicate frequently but need to collaborate on completing a project. While few would argue it’s as effective as synchronous collaboration, it’s always a good alternative.

How Online Whiteboards Blend the Two

With Fresco, teams can incorporate both elements of asynchronous solutions and real-time collaboration. Teams can collaborate using diagrams or custom boards to communicate information in real-time, even when separated. 

Using boards as a supplement to a live meeting is super helpful to provide additional context to the participants, while it can also be accessed at any time to gain additional inspiration.

Regardless of the situation Fresco is being used in, anyone can contribute and add meaningful information in their own unique way.

Having much of the world operate in remote and hybrid workspaces means collaboration needs to evolve. Demanding an in-person environment simply isn’t possible for people anymore, and using an online whiteboard is the perfect solution to bridge the collaborative gap in any organization.

Online whiteboards are perfect for both synchronous and asynchronous solutions because they help provide visual context for teams collaborating over zoom and also create an accessible space where collaboration exists in digital permanence. This allows people to access the board at any time and make necessary changes while also creating an engaging real-time collaborative environment

Conclusion

Creating dynamic collaborative environments online is difficult to begin with but Fresco makes it so much easier. If this article was helpful, you should try using our simple online whiteboard solution today.

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