Synchronous communication: everything you need to know

Learn what synchronous communication is, the benefits and disadvantages. Understand how you should effectively employ async communication in your company.

Learn what synchronous communication is, the benefits and disadvantages, and how you should employ this type of communication style in your company.

What is synchronous communication?

Simply put - synchronous communication is when we communicate with each other in real time. It requires the person communicating and the person receiving to both be present at the same time or space.

What are the benefits of this communication style?

We covered some key arguments of synchronous communication in a previous post, but let’s take a look at it in greater detail here.

The advantages of synchronous communication:

Fast communication

Teams can receive instant feedback on their work and as a result, decisions can be made very quickly. Articles show that fast decision-making in businesses can lower risk and drive success in businesses that operate in highly competitive marketplaces.

Relationship building

Synchronous communication allows people to connect with one another, with better communication across teams. With synchronous communication, teams can form better relationships, attributing to a greater sense of purpose than just simply working.

Clear communication

Projects that need complex discussions or brainstorms are far better explained and conducted via synchronous, or real time, communication. These conversations are far more conducive to questions, learning and the alignment of teams - all essential parts to clear communication.

What are some examples of synchronous communication?

There are many forms of synchronous communication, and it is how we are naturally wired to communicate with one another. From the day we are born, we interact with each other via synchronous communication. Some examples of synchronous communication are:


Physical workspaces need to be managed effectively to allow teams to physically come to the office. There are a whole host of applications out there that provide this, like our friends at Skedda.

Instant messaging

Messaging applications also facilitate communication internally, with the most popular in the workplace being Slack. In our view, these types of communication should mainly be used when critical feedback is being discussed or something that needs immediate attention.

Video conferencing

Meeting applications that allow 1 on 1 conversations or team meetings are also a form of synchronous communication. Zoom, Google Meet and now even the Brave browser, allow for these types of digital meetings. They’re perfect for building rapport, brainstorming, providing critical feedback or discussing sensitive topics.

What are the disadvantages of synchronous communication?

Interruption-based communication

Interruptions can happen 4-12 times an hour, with over 50% coming from internal sources, and it can take 20 minutes for individuals to refocus. Furthermore, Harvard Business Review found that 80% of these interruptions are unimportant. Due to synchronous communication and an influx of instant messages, people are disrupted and according to McKinsey, can be 80% more productive with more ‘flow state’ working spells.

Less productivity and more stress

As Flexjobs reports, when teams feel they have to respond instantly, they lose those uninterrupted chunks of time necessary for deep, meaningful work. By some estimates, users spend 90 minutes per day actively engaging in instant messaging for work—that’s an hour and a half of “lost” deep work time.

Difficult for distributed teams

For remote teams that are across different time zones, real-time conversations can be challenging and disruptive to a person’s working day. Being in Europe and having to constantly communicate in real time with someone in Asia limits windows to chat in typical 9-5 days. This can lead to frustrations.

Our take

To ensure you and your teams are getting the advantages, ensure there is a healthy balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication styles. Check out our other blog that looks at the pros and cons of both of these methods.

Asynchronous communication doesn’t require a response immediately, and so workers can have far greater control of their working day than constant real-time communication. Teams can work better across time zones, allowing them to have a better work-life balance and enabling companies to employ talent from across the globe. However, synchronous communication is important for relationship building, critical feedback or discussing sensitive topics.

Check out Doist’s graphic of how they employ asynchronous and synchronous communication with this graphic taken directly from their blog.

Having a healthy blend of the two communication styles and choosing when to employ each method is key to productive and happy teams.