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Why Asynchronous Work is the Future
Check out the numerous benefits of asynchronous work and why it is the future.
Remote work is beautiful. It lets employees work wherever they want. And more often than not, that also means they work whenever they want. Hours don’t define them. If they feel the urge to rock climb in the middle of the day, they do it. If their kid has a tuba recital at 3pm, they go and clap politely. It’s a harmonious marriage of employee-earned responsibility and employer-blessed autonomy.
The challenge some companies face is how to unite their remote workforce. How do you streamline communication and tasks with a geographically dispersed team that has some employees starting their day in Pacific Time and others in European Standard Time? Is it a romantic notion to imagine teams can be productive with such a set-up? Can quality work truly get done? Enter asynchronous work.
Asynchronous work is a simple organization technique with huge consequences. But the kicker is, they’re good consequences. With asynchronous work, you don’t have to ask yourself, “is this good for the company?” It inherently is. The Bobs approve. It supports employees and the employer. It’s logical, scientific and empowering. And it’s possible to implement for any business.
With synchronous work, every stage of a project depends on the one that came before it, so all employees must be available simultaneously. At its core, asynchronous work operates under the notion that all employees do not need to be available at the same time. Employees own their own productivity without relying on others to complete tasks. They complete what they can during their individual work time and then move to the next task. This works because the company set the policies and tools in place to support this workflow. With more brands adopting a hybrid or remote approach, asynchronous work becomes the vital tool for success and employee satisfaction. Check out the numerous benefits of asynchronous work and why it is the future:
It may seem counterintuitive, but the sum total of work done is greater for asynchronous work than with synchronous work. Why? Individual contributors are empowered with their own productivity. They work on their own piece of the pie, and when they finish, they are equipped to move on to the next one. This system succeeds because employees know exactly what should come next—and they’re trusted to do it. They don’t feel the pressure or resentment of waiting on a fellow coworker. The team is united in their workflow. Planning has already taken place. There’s documentation and transparency. Teams can access what they need exactly when they need it. They aren’t asking around, funneled through one person or a singular pipeline. No one is stalled or confused. There are still deadlines, expectations and personal accountability, but there isn’t waste. No twiddling thumbs. Time is respected as employees focus on their work and take ownership over their contributions. And that results in a more productive organization as a whole.
Less fire drills
Gone are the days of the annoying “drive by” at someone’s desk. The person who thought it was a good idea to prod about when they’ll have that report done because hey I really need it ASAP mmkay thanks? With asynchronous work, there are no more panicked phone calls or angry voicemails following up on status. Expectations are already set and widely known, and that results in less urgent communications. Most importantly, it results in less stress. The impulsive jolt to respond immediately is eliminated. If someone is prodding, something has gone wrong. Needless to say, this approach works wonders for the mental health of employees. They feel respected. They feel confident in an organization that is, well, organized. One built on logic and universal practices that everyone understands. Boundaries are respected. People don’t feel like pawns, mindlessly doing tasks whenever demanded of them. There’s a dignity to the duties they perform as the entire workplace conducts itself with a higher level of civility and cooperation.
Levels the playing field
With remote work, some employees wonder how they compare to others. Am I being seen? How can I prove myself for a promotion or my next performance review? With asynchronous work, the playing field is leveled. Everyone operates on the same expectations. There is no “hero” mentality. One person or one small team does not see the glory of moving projects forward—each individual is given the chance to feel productive and worthwhile to the greater organization. It is more inclusive. Nothing is left to chance, or to the louder, more visible roles. Because of clear documentation and tracking, there is greater visibility to each individual contributor. There’s less ambiguity of who did what when. It’s clear who completed work, who did it well, and how it influenced the greater good.
Encourages work with intention
Asynchronous work requires an entire shift in how teams communicate with each other, and this often revolutionizes workflow for those that have traditionally experienced a more chaotic culture. There isn’t a universal start and end time to the day like with synchronous work. You don’t have to prove to people that you’re “on” (Hey I’m working, see?) The politics are removed to dive deep into the actual work. There is a commitment to less disruption. Interruption-free work time is respected. Focus is improved. The endless string of emails is eliminated. The team understands everyone is not available at all times, so they have to find answers on their own. This builds well-rounded and prepared employees, which pays off in shaping stronger, more valuable performers. When communication is necessary it is done with intention, respecting the context of someone else’s workday and how best to reach them.
So how can you get started?
To implement asynchronous work in your organization, you need to do three main things:
- Chart a new culture–you can’t be cool with the same distractions or games that define synchronous work. Prepare to shift your culture to embrace a new way of communicating and working together. Prepare for a few growing pains with positive outcomes.
- Invest in tools–Companies must put the right tools into the hands of their asynchronous employees to facilitate operating in a new way. Remote-friendly tools like Scratch, Slack and Notion will help you get started. Messaging will be prioritized over phone calls in order to respect interruption-free work time.
- Document everything–Documentation is vital to set expectations and deadlines. Teams should be encouraged to note their progress and state-of-mind as often as possible. Policies and procedures have to be flawless, transparent and widely accessible. Standardization must be upheld and constantly updated, so be prepared to invest in these areas.
Asynchronous work results in better morale, better communication and more trust. This style encourages less interruptions and a deeper focus on the work at hand. As the world embraces new ways to work, it might be time for your company to shift how they see the workday. Teams feel they are contributing to something bigger and they have a stake in the success of the company. And at the end of the day—whenever it starts and ends—that will make the greatest difference to your bottom line.
Have you heard about Scratch though?
That little thing that solves the pesky problem of remote collaboration? It’s a daily journaling and team check-in system. One that works for well, work, but also for life and everything in between. Complete with tools to simplify daily progress, team rewards, collaboration, dialogue and more. Think less distraction, more connection. Scratch the hard stuff and get your team moving in the same direction.