Why Buffer Isn’t an Async-First Company
Buffer, a remote company, has found that synchronous communication offers real benefits in certain situations. While async communication is convenient, there are times when live video calls are the best solution for resolving complex problems quickly.
Synchronous Communication: Moving Quickly and Building Connections
Video calls help Buffer’s remote team build connections and create a more personal work environment. Seeing facial expressions and hearing tone of voice during live conversations allows for better relationship-building and real-time decision-making. Chatting via video also humanizes teammates and makes it easier to kick off future conversations.
Sync Conversations: Addressing Sensitive Topics
Live conversations often lead to discussions that may not have occurred in async communication. The ability to hear tone of voice allows for more effective communication, especially when addressing sensitive topics.
Buffer’s Approach: Choosing the Right Tool
Buffer encourages teammates to use their judgment when deciding between sync and async communication. They provide a cheat sheet to help guide this decision-making process:
- If it’s four sentences or fewer, and/or it’s urgent, use Slack.
- If it’s five sentences or more and/or it’s not timely, use Threads.
- If it’s complex and urgent, use Zoom or a phone call.
Async Communication Tools: Threads and Video Updates
When async communication is the best option, Buffer uses tools like Threads for transparent cross-team communication and longer discussions. Many teammates also utilize video tools like Zight or Loom to record and share updates in a video format.
Flexibility is Key
Buffer values flexibility in both meeting times and communication methods. Teammates are encouraged to be flexible with each other, accommodating different time zones and schedules. The goal is to create an environment where everyone can participate in synchronous discussions without feeling obligated to be available 24/7.
Buffer’s Philosophy: Give Flexibility to Get Flexibility
Buffer believes in giving flexibility to its team members in order to foster ownership and better results. This doesn’t mean being available at all times, but rather being willing to adjust schedules and make accommodations for synchronous discussions. The company trusts its employees to manage their time effectively while balancing work and personal life.
Buffer’s communication style may not work for every company, but it has found success in balancing sync and async methods. How does your team handle communication? Share your thoughts or questions below.
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