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How asynchronous video communication boosts remote work

When it's time to share information with colleagues, a full-blown video conference isn't always necessary. Maybe an app like TikTok could help.

A continuing hot topic in the video industry is the potential for asynchronous video in the enterprise in the style of popular consumer apps, like TikTok and Snapchat. While we tend to think of using business video to support meetings, business video can also be used to avoid having meetings in the first place.

What is asynchronous video communication?

The easiest way to understand asynchronous video is to imagine the video version of a voicemail. It isn't much more complicated than that, but it does require rethinking the way we use video at work.

Traditional video calls are synchronous with all parties in the meeting at the same time who can hear and see each other live. Team chat, on the other hand, can be asynchronous. We tend to check chat at our own pace, with no expectations that messages get an immediate response.

Asynchronous video combines the power of video calls and the flexibility of chat. With the growth of remote work and teams distributed across different time zones, organizations are increasingly interested in this approach to video. But, to use it effectively, they must understand where it can potentially fit into team communication workflows.

What are the benefits of asynchronous video?

We love the flexibility of asynchronous chat. It enables us to stay in communication with our teams, while actively working. Employees can monitor chat, while doing their jobs, without slowing down productivity. The premise behind asynchronous video is not only to add that flexibility to video communications, but to support communication needs not well addressed by chat.

Asynchronous video is a much richer form of communication than a chat message. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video shares 30 pictures per second. The issue with video is that it requires scheduling to get team members into a Zoom or Microsoft Teams room so that you can speak to them in real time over video and properly share your message. An asynchronous video message has the power of video without the scheduling. No one enjoys doing the math on time zones.

Asynchronous video use cases

Employees experience times when it's easier to explain something by talking rather than typing but don't want to drag the entire team into a video meeting. They need something that's in between chat and video meetings, and this is the perfect case for asynchronous video. Consider the following:

  • showing something to a team member who doesn't need to see it right away;
  • quickly explaining a new filing procedure;
  • sending an update about new customer requirements; or
  • briefing the team on a new project.

Here, employees just need to turn on their webcams, hit record and make a short video to share to their teams. Everyone gets the message clearly and precisely. While text chat can be great for asynchronous communication, it's sometimes far more effective to explain vocally and visually. Also, unlike a voicemail, your team will understand and retain the details of the message.

Don't think that the potential for asynchronous video is limited to upgrading voicemail messages to video messages. The use of TikTok-like services designed for business could be so much more. As we work throughout the day, we can create a library of useful clips for our colleagues. For example, anytime team members find a new shortcut or trick that saves time when using office software, they can make a clip, share it with the group and save the clip to an on-demand library for new team members in the future.

While asynchronous video may not be the next big thing in video conferencing or get immediate mass adoption in the enterprise, I do think we will see it grow and find uses. For now, we live in chat all day and hop in video meetings when it's time to talk. But asynchronous video can find its place somewhere in between.

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