It’s one of the biggest benefits of a newly dispersed work culture: leveraging 24/7 productivity in the world of asynchronous work. Previously, workers were largely restricted to getting things done synchronously, achieving tasks and meeting milestones simultaneous to the work of other team members. Now, rather than being deterred by time-based bottlenecks, workers focus on what’s possible to achieve in their own time—an array of duties that widen as organizational leaders invest in this proactive approach to project management.
Asynchronous work (or async, for short) is much easier to understand when contrasted against more traditional notions of working synchronously. Live, in-office communication—long the norm for organizations across industries—has rapidly shifted to instant messaging services and real-time Zoom calls, especially during this global pandemic. And while these styles of synchronous communication still have their advantages, companies are finding async allows them to do more in less time, and with fewer resources.
Implementing asynchronous work may be easier than you think. A recent Gartner report found that 69% of remote workers report their teams are skilled at asynchronous work, compared with 56% of onsite employees. Working asynchronously—empowered by the right technologies that facilitate easier, faster communications—can drive organizations into a new era of productive growth. Here’s how.
Aligning Real-Time Communications with Asynchronous Work
Much digital ink has been spilled about Zoom fatigue, and the burnout-inducing effect it’s having on workers. It’s no surprise (and a perhaps a bit obvious) that one of the most effective tips for mitigating the distress of constant meetings is to have less meetings. Asynchronous work enables this
Direct feedback is best when both parties build a productive dialogue, whether they do it through Zoom or in a face-to-face meeting. Discussions that rely heavily on context – or simply required to get ahead of fast-approaching deadlines – always benefit from the instantaneous, directly connected real (or realistic) meetings.
But asynchronous work doesn’t mean eliminating synchronous communications entirely —rather, it places a premium on the time workers must meet live or in person. Synchronous meetings are reserved only for the highest priority, time-sensitive discussions; for everything else, a default to async produces real benefits.
Going Global with Async
One of the clearest benefits of asynchronous work is the major hurdle it clears for remote hiring: Time zones. Hiring employees in different parts of the world or even within a single country has long been unfeasible, simply due to the demands of real-time communication.
Another benefit of async is time management. Rather than micromanaging employees with multiple daily Zoom calls, leaders have by and large found it more effective to let workers manage on their own. In fact, flexible scheduling is the main benefit cited by a plurality of remote workers.
For teams working outside corporate headquarters and time zones, this translates into real opportunity. Leadership now has access to a much deeper talent pool, meaning a real impact on cost effectiveness and overall growth.
Near-shore team members will also see little disruption to their workflows when async and remote hiring are implemented in tandem. The capabilities of technologies like Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and Device as a Service (DaaS) keep operations running smoothly via a wide array of software, equipment, and services. Giving teams the tools to create their own personal workflows across a variety of devices, as with DaaS, simultaneously empowers them to seriously build toward asynchronous work, without giving up any of their productivity.
In fact, the ability to work from home or work from anywhere dovetails with the benefits of asynchronous communication.
Here’s how they work in tandem…
An Effective Approach to Implementing Asynchronous Work
When implementing async, it’s important to start with a clear definition of ‘urgent’ in your organization’s work structure. There’s no fault to workers for taking time in crafting responses, whether the work is handled in advance of a deadline, or if a regroup is necessary to re-prioritize deadlines.
Successful asynchronous work really comes down to organization. Notes, feedback, and to-do’s can be shared across an organization’s structure to ensure everyone stays on the same page, regardless of time or place. A single source-of-truth document, updated to reflect any changes in procedures and expectations, can be a vital means of staying on track.
Synchronous meetings will still happen from time to time, but it’s important to go into them with an async mindset. Document everything, from pre-meeting notes to takeaways and follow-ups, and have the information readily available to all team members. Above all, maintaining an environment of consistent overcommunication is key.
The Asynchronous Balance
Determining which types of meetings or collaborations to handle in the moment or across the hours is an early process teams must undergo when implementing asynchronous work. Yet these decisions aren’t etched in stone—much of what is done synchronously today can be made asynchronous tomorrow, with the right approach.
For example, brainstorming sessions have historically occurred with the best talent in one room, or more recently in the same videocall. Asynchronous brainstorming stretches this process out over more time, allowing knowledge workers to step back from the conversation and deepen their insights.
What’s more, this style of ideating brings every voice to the table—no one is left out due to a lack of time or inability to speak. It’s these advantages that draw organizations toward asynchronous work beyond the necessary minimum needed to simply get things done.
It’s important to know that many of these benefits aren’t immediately apparent, making iteration a key component of successful asynchronous work. The initial separation of what needs to be done in real-time and what doesn’t will shift over time, as team stakeholders note the gaps in productivity and efficiency, then implement changes over time. Fundamental principles of overcommunication and extensive documentation ensure no one is left out of the loop when these changes are made.
Flexible work arrangements, including work-from-home, have been a focus of discussion across organizations in virtually all industries. As the world moves toward making these once-unprecedented shifts permanent, the very nature of how we collaborate can evolve as well. Asynchronous work is quickly becoming a cornerstone for how workers can do their best every day, while maintaining the productivity and personal satisfaction gains conferred by grasping a new model of digital work.
To get started with asynchronous work for your team, consider a technology upgrade via DaaS to boost each worker’s capability to get things done on their own schedules. See how it works in action at our blog, or get in contact with our team of experts today to find the right solution to empower your most capable talent.