With the rise of remote and hybrid work, a range of different working practices have emerged to help businesses (and the individuals who work for them) to optimize their ways of collaborating. One of the most powerful among these is asynchronous work.
As its name implies, asynchronous work doesn’t require immediate (or synchronous) communication between individuals — instead, it enables individuals to adjust their duties and schedules to optimize how they connect and work together. Rather than succumbing to the meeting madness that many organizations have suffered from, asynchronous work instead utilizes open communication channels such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, and collaboration tools such as Google Drive and Notion.
This article will help you understand the effectiveness of asynchronous work and its role in remote working around the world.
What Is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous work refers to the method of working where the team members do not have to be online concurrently. When your workforce works asynchronously, they can maximize their productivity individually without relying on others to execute their tasks.
The primary function of asynchronous work is to create processes that grant your employees the ability and flexibility to work independently and trust them to perform and deliver effectively. By adopting asynchronous working, your teams can work whenever they choose — without relying on real-time communication and collaboration.
Unlike in the traditional work model where individuals commence and conclude their work at the same time — for instance, 9-5 — asynchronous work allows your workforce to take part in ongoing discussions and to respond at their convenience.
The growth of asynchronous work enables individuals to work from the comfort of home and has removed the need for commuting to the office. This empowers workers with extra time for your personal and family matters — in fact, recent research indicates that 72 minutes per day are saved on average.
In addition to this, employers experience a range of benefits from asynchronous work — ranging from increased productivity to a happier workforce.
How Does Asynchronous Working Work?
Asynchronous work takes place remotely and at no set working time. It is enabled through a range of tools and platforms, including communication tools such as Slack and email, and on collaboration platforms such as Notion. Your workforce does not have to be online at the same time or follow a typical schedule. As such, asynchronous work opens the door for truly global collaboration, regardless of time zones and working patterns.
Technology is the backbone of asynchronous work. This is because the management of the workers and communication occur virtually through digital tools. In order to embrace asynchronous work effectively, organizations need to embrace tools for communication, collaboration, and project management.
Creating an effective asynchronous work environment does not happen overnight, and is heavily dependent on a healthy remote work culture. You will require a team that is ready to work remotely, and is comfortable with the accountability that comes with it in terms of meeting deadlines, following rules, and adhering to standards.
Leaders need to ensure that teams are managed effectively in order to achieve common objectives and goals. Clear communication is crucial; as a leader, you should learn the best ways to communicate with your team members as individuals, and should lead by example in setting the communication standards that the team should follow. For example, having a Slack channel to say “good morning” as you sign on for the day can be a great way to foster togetherness for a highly distributed team.
The following practices can aid in effective asynchronous communication:
- Conducting regular check-ins and status updates
- Creating the right remote work tech stack
- Setting communication standards
- Developing an effectively remote company culture
- Keeping calendars and statuses up to date
- Creating suitable onboarding
What Are the Benefits of Asynchronous Work?
Working asynchronously is important for every remote company’s success. The following benefits are associated with asynchronous work:
High rates of productivity
Individuals tend to have different times of the day when they are more productive. For some, this can be in the morning whereas, for others, it could be later in the day. Asynchronous work empowers people to choose when they complete their work, and boosting individual productivity as a result.
Flexibility for employees
As asynchronous work offers employees the ability to choose their working hours, it also enables work-life balance, giving people the chance to juggle important duties such as childcare alongside their work. As a result, workers are happier and feel more respected, which not only boosts morale, but also enhances team retention.
High levels of transparency
Asynchronous work cultivates a culture of transparency. In order for an asynchronous team to function, there needs to be documentation and open forums of discussion, both of which aid transparency as everyone is able to see what others are working on. What’s more, in some cases, delivering a regular written ‘Stand Up’ for each individual to update their team members can be a good idea, as it furthers transparency, and creates opportunities for vital questions to be asked, or input to be given.
Access to the global talent pool
In times of asynchronous working, you no longer need to limit your search by geography when hiring new team members. Instead, you can search for individuals with the most relevant skill set your company requires, rather than those who are located most conveniently.
Trusting the environment
Asynchronous work helps to improve the manager/worker relationship by fostering mutual trust and respect. Micromanaging exerts unnecessary pressure on the working relationship and reduces employee satisfaction. Rather than focusing on setting standard working hours and forcing the team to adhere to them, establishing clear communication styles, expectations, and deadlines for your team members helps everyone to feel trusted and aligned.
Independence, ownership, and responsibility
Asynchronous work gives room for independence at individual and team levels. Workers get the opportunity to take responsibility for their tasks and make their decisions autonomously. A team does not have to rely on the supervisors or managers but rather on managing their own work, giving them a sense of belonging and job satisfaction.
How to Master Asynchronous Working
Asynchronous work has myriad benefits and is quickly becoming the norm for businesses all around the world. However, in order to truly master it, your organization needs some fundamental building blocks in place. These include:
1. Effective communication
Your team members should have especially strong written communication skills. Most of the time, communication done on those platforms is written messages and therefore should be easily understood by every member. To achieve this, introduce async learning practices such as communication programs or video recording.
2. Avoid unnecessary meetings
Asynchronous work does still require meetings in order to maintain team alignment and cohesion. However, to avoid unnecessary meetings, collect meeting feedback regularly and constantly reassess the purpose of each meeting you are leading. Without a clear purpose, meetings shouldn’t exist, and therefore this exercise will help you to cut unnecessary meetings altogether.
3. Use communication channels wisely — and deliberately
For your team to thrive in an asynchronous environment, you need to construct channels of communication for each specific purpose. Tools such as Slack and MS Teams make this very easy. For example, you will want to have different channels for each individual team to collaborate, and you might even choose to have some project-specific channels to help build momentum around individual initiatives.
4. Use the right tech
Due to different working times among your team members and possible long distances across, you need the best tools for documentation, communication, and collaboration. Each tool should help your remote team to overcome specific challenges — ranging from information security to speed of communication.
Now that you have read about asynchronous working and its benefits, it’s time to make a concerted effort to embrace it. Many companies have adopted this change and used it to build high-functioning, empowered, and focused teams across the world. Now it’s your turn.