Asynchronous work – The unsung hero of remote work

Physical office spaces served as a common ground for people to work together as a team. If they needed inputs from their colleague, they’d walk up to them and work on it in real-time. With the adoption of technological tools into the workplace, many of these activities saw a shift and were being done via these tools. This aided immensely in streamlining communication and collaboration processes in the workplace as it enabled not just ease of completing the task but it helped in understanding how people worked as a team and how to better these processes.

What is async work?

Async work is when two or more people can complete a task without having to actively collaborate in real time. The most common example of this is async communication, which most of us have practiced in the form of emails at one point or another. Modern tools such as Notion and Google workspace enable asynchronous collaboration on documents while messaging tools like Loom or Slack help in asynchronous communication where the recipients can consume the message at their convenience and respond in their own time.

Why is async work important?

In a workplace that is being structured around modern tools, it can become burdensome to manage and keep everyone updated in the array of tools adopted throughout the organization. These have brought about new sets of problems like notification fatigue where employees are inundated with notifications from different apps and are jumping between each one trying to address them all. This inevitably leads to context switching where the task at hand isn’t being given their full attention and the loss of productivity leads to less than desirable outcomes in their tasks and well-being.

Asynchronous work when implemented can help companies tackle these issues and bring about meaningful results in an effort to improve their employees’ productivity and wellbeing. Additionally, asynchronous work empowers employees with the freedom to set their own schedules which means they can utilize their peak productivity times for tasks that are more cognitively demanding. These are just a few reasons why companies across the world have been and will continue to adopt asynchronous work as their default style of work.

How to work asynchronously?

  1. Clear and thorough communication. Working asynchronously means communicating with your colleagues the same way, and this requires everyone to keep each other informed while communicating, be it via email or via apps like Slack. Clear and complete messages to the intended recipients only that don’t require multiple further clarifications is a step in the right direction.
  2. Clearly defined tasks. Working in teams always requires transparency and clarity on the work being done. The autonomous nature of asynchronous work demands that all the necessary information like expected deliverables, due dates, collaborators, owners, and the steps are clearly documented and can be relied upon by not just the one doing the task but the others to work together as a team.
  3. Transparent performance management. With asynchronous work, it becomes very simple to implement highly transparent methods of measuring performance in the team. Expectations are set, documented, and are available for everyone to see. What is expected of the team to succeed is quantified and is measured using analytics tools and dashboards that take the bias out of the performance measuring process. This helps companies identify and reward the truly best-performing employees and build a culture that identifies, encourages, and rewards transparency and performance without bias.
  4. Introduce the right tools. Tools are the primary enablers of asynchronous work. Choosing the right tools for your team involves identifying what tools are being used currently and their effectiveness. Once tools are adopted, and processes on how to use these tools are in place, it is crucial to understand how these tools are being used by your teams in order to understand how work gets done, navigate the bottlenecks and improve the overall employee experience. Hatica is a work analytics platform that helps understand how these tools are being used, gives managers and leaders the necessary insights to build better teams!
  5. When to work synchronously. Working effectively means acknowledging that each situation is unique. Team building activities, 1:1s, solving incidents, etc benefit greatly from working synchronously and in many cases might be the only option. Additionally, the style of work to adopt is highly context-sensitive, meaning that the team members define how they work best and if it’s synchronous in nature, then pushing for async work might not deliver the best results. This means there’s a need for continuous process oversight that can help identify patterns and anomalies to see what’s working and what’s not.

The future

Companies, small and large alike are building capacity towards adopting hybrid workplaces, and these demand the right sets of tools and processes in place. Understanding how these tools and processes add to your team’s experience and performance becomes crucial in building highly effective teams which is why companies like Hatica are building platforms that can integrate seamlessly with your current tools, contextualize and analyze the data, and provide leaders and managers with the insights, and reports like sprint retrospectives, work snapshots and more, all needed to build better teams. 

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