The workplace has been changing for some time, but that shift has become seismic in recent years. Things like remote work and the transition to a more global workplace have grown exponentially. With that growth, however, comes a new set of obstacles for organizational leaders to overcome. One of the new challenges employers are facing is the growth of and need for asynchronous working.
With a team working from different places or time zones, it’s difficult for co-workers to align their efforts according to the clock. However, there are plenty of ways to maintain productivity and ensure your organization's continued growth and success using a workforce that’s not running on the same schedule.
To help you do that, take a look at this easy guide to getting started with asynchronous work.
What Is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous working, or async work, is when the members of your team work on different schedules without any expectation that they’ll be available at a set time.
Of course, members of asynchronous work teams must still remain productive and respond to communications in a given timeframe. However, tasks and communications are given a wider berth to accommodate the varying needs of a widespread and flexible workforce.
Asynchronous working can be applied to an organization that operates in an office, but it’s more of a necessity for companies that work in a remote or hybrid setting. This is particularly true of a company that employs people across the planet where drastically different time zones mean drastically different availability.
The Benefits of Async Work
Many people started their careers in a world where the only jobs available required the entire workforce to gather in one place for five days each week. For these employees, it can be a significant adjustment moving into a workplace that doesn’t work at the same time — let alone the same place. However, asynchronous working has so many benefits that it may seem just as uncomfortable to shift back after undergoing that small adjustment period.
1. Work-Life Balance
Any organizational leader trying to engage a modern workforce is well aware of the importance of helping their employees strike a great work-life balance. Async work is one of the best ways to do that. Giving your workforce the freedom to adjust their schedules to their lives can improve employee engagement, retention, and even productivity.
A recent study from Buffer found that 52% of remote workers prefer asynchronous communication in their work. Providing your employees with the work environment they’re looking for can go a long way toward keeping them engaged.
2. Less Meaningless Meetings
Not all meetings are meaningless, but according to the Harvard Business Review, 70% of all meetings do nothing but keep employees from doing the work they were hired for!
You may be worried about wasted time when adopting async work, but the truth is that you were experiencing plenty of that well before the working world went remote. Async work can trim the fat from your employees’ schedules and allow them to remain productive.
3. A Sense of Trust
Giving employees the sense that management is always breathing down their necks is one of the easiest ways to make them disenchanted with their role on the team. Async work sends employees a message that you trust them to do the job you hired them for. This can improve engagement and ensure that you retain your top talent going forward.
4. A Wider Talent Pool
When you’re not relying on everyone to be available at the same exact time, you can then begin to look for talented candidates in a far wider range of places. You will undoubtedly begin receiving far more impressive resumes when you open up the talent hunt to the entire planet.
How to Get Started with Async Work
Now that you know what asynchronous working can do for a company, you’re ready to start implementing it into yours. Here are some simple tips for getting started.
1. Adjust Your Communications
One of the most important aspects of async work is communication. You don’t want to have all of your interactions spread out individually to each employee like would happen through email. Instead, the goal is to streamline communication by opening it up to everyone. This means adopting messaging software like Slack or MS Teams that can involve your entire team.
Messaging systems allow you to cast a wide net with communications, tag individuals of particular importance, and see those who have read your communications. They also make it possible for people to both tune in and chime in when they're available.
2. Reconsider Your Meetings
While it’s generally important to bring the whole team together at certain times, there are often more effective and efficient ways to relay the information shared in meetings through asynchronous communication.
Sometimes you can communicate what needs to be said through a simple Slack message; other times, you can make a video relaying information that can then be made available to your team at their earliest convenience. There are also plenty of ways to collaborate through various internet tools (such as Google Docs) that don’t require everyone to be in the same place at the same time.
3. Ensure Transparency Regarding Availability
One thing that can quickly get in the way of async work is a need for more clarity about availability. Expecting your employees to be available at a time when they’re not, and vice versa, is the antithesis of async work. Thus, it’s important to create a system where everyone can clearly mark their availability. You can accomplish this using asynchronous communication tools like Slack and MS Teams.
4. Know When to Drop the Async Approach
Finally, remember that asynchronous working is not a panacea for every one of the many issues that can arise in the remote workplace. Sometimes it is necessary to have direct, real-time communication with members of your team. Discerning what those times are is critical to successfully adopting async work in your workplace.