Why is Asynchronous Communication ImportantNov 11, 2022
“Hey, folks, how much time do you spend on async communication vs meetings in your roles?”
Having my first coffee, I bumped into two friends of mine in the co-working space.
Time for micro research. I told myself.
At once, they said “Roughly 80% async 20% meetings.”
Both worked in maker’s roles, but still, I was quite surprised by the amount of async that they experience.
Sure, it’s just an anecdote.
What is not an anecdote is the fact that 52% of workers would like their companies to be asynchronous-first according to Buffer's annual report.
All in all, we are spending and will be spending s an increasing amount of time communicating in an asynchronous way.
And there’s a good reason for it.
The benefits go a long way.
⏰ Fewer meetings / More autonomy
Asynchronous communication means fewer meetings, which frees up more time for the team to concentrate on their work. Giving team members the option to access information at a time that works for them also gives them agency and autonomy to plan their time more efficiently.
🙌 Empowering silent voices
Asynchronous collaboration empowers introverted coworkers. The silent ones will be far more inclined to voice their ideas or bring up any challenges if workplace communication doesn't take place in real-time.
👍 Scalable communication & increased efficiency
One of the main advantages of asynchronous work is that time zone barriers are entirely eliminated. Business is conducted continuously, across all time zones. Leaders are not limited by finding a meeting slot that suits everyone.
We're always talking about #asynchronouswork - but only 15% of knowledge workers actually understand it... pic.twitter.com/SXUaGKIdQ3— Qatalog (@qatalog) July 27, 2022
Most of us experience asynchronous communication on daily bases but it seems that there’s not a common understanding.
So what is asynchronous communication?
Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab, gives one of the most fitting definitions.
“At its core, asynchronous communication is documentation. Mastering the art of communicating asynchronously has a prerequisite: documentation.
It is delivering a message or series of messages in a way that does not require the recipient(s) to be available — or even awake — at the same time.”
How do you start?
The chances are very high that you’ve already started. If you’ve recorded a message for your team or left each other comments in a Google Doc, you’re using one of many vehicles of async communication.
Darren Murph of GitLab gives advice on how to start leveraging the benefits of async work,
“old habits need to be left behind, and intentional effort to be made on areas such as documentation, informal communication, and working well asynchronously.”
To build muscle, we must do it bit by bit.
Well, here are some examples of adopting the async comms right here, right now.
#1 Async feedback rounds
Sync: Sending an instant Slack message asking for feedback
Async: Run asynchronous feedback rounds in Google Docs, Figma, and Miro at anyone’s convenience
#2 Team standup in Slack
Sync: Scheduling a live team stand-up just to share updates
Async: Set up an automatic reminder in Slack for your team to post updates there
#3 Project updates in project tools
Sync: Hosting a status meeting and sharing project updates verbally
Async: Get the team to update their Notion/Trello/Asana boards and let the rest review it at their convenience
#4 Socializing your idea in a memo
Sync: Calling a meeting just to pitch an idea
Async: Writing a short memo (half-page) and sending it to a few colleagues for first thoughts
Credits to Peter Fabor, CEO of SurfOffice for the idea!
#5 Collecting meeting questions in advance
Sync: Encouraging the team to ask questions in meetings in real-time
Async: Allow employees to submit their questions on days leading up to the meeting
#6 All-company video message
Sync: Running an all-company meeting expecting people from different time zones to join
Async: Record a video message instead and let people watch it at their convenience
#7 Async ideas collection
Sync: Running live brainstorming sessions with ideas generated on the spot
Async: Using tools like Google Docs, Miro, or Slido to collect ideas asynchronously in advance
These are some of the ideas on how to get your team to work in a more async way and create an equal and more flexible working environment for all.
Juraj is the co-founder of Remote People and ex-Chief Meeting Designer at Slido. He built an industry leading blog with 1.5M+ views/year and his ideas were featured in Harvard Business Review, The Next Web or Forbes.
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