Remote work is here to stay. Regardless of how we might feel about this trend, it’s long past time to incorporate asynchronous work into your business model.
The pandemic was the last nail in the coffin. Any business leader holding out on the thought that the work-from-home craze was little more than a passing fad needs to wave the white flag.
In fact, as pandemic pressures have eased and many workers have returned to in-office jobs, well over half of them (57%) report that they prefer not just working from home, but doing so full time.
This movement toward more work-from-home jobs and remote environments has made asynchronous work particularly important.
What is asynchronous work?
In a traditional office space, it’s natural to synchronize work.
People arrive around the same time of the day, settle in, and proceed to work alongside one another for several hours straight. This often includes real-time communication and collaboration as well as meetings and face-to-face conversations.
All of this is impossible to do when you hire a remote workforce. Not only is your staff off-site, but they often work in different time zones. That’s where asynchronous work can make a big difference.
The global workforce brand Remote defines async work as “the practice of working on a team that does not require all members to be online simultaneously.” This leads to several key benefits, including:
- a high level of effectiveness as you empower individuals to make decisions on their own;
- increased trust and transparency as you give employees more responsibilities and share a greater level of information with your team; and
- maximized productivity since no one is left waiting on minor decisions from others.
If your office is sticking with a remote or hybrid work option, here are a few tips to help you effectively incorporate an asynchronous work model into your company.
In a traditional office space, teams tend to work together toward a single goal — at the speed of the slowest worker. This need to sync up individual work with larger group activity is one of the first things that needs to go in an asynchronous work environment.
Instead, make a conscious effort to disconnect work from synchronized communication. Split up tasks so that an individual can immediately move to the next responsibility on their to-do list when they find that they’re waiting for input from someone else.
This activity, known as multiplexing, removes bottlenecks from the workflow process. It frees up employees to maximize productivity, no matter who they’re dependent on for any single project or task.
Create clear communication standards.
Embracing asynchronous work doesn’t mean eschewing communication. On the contrary, communication is both necessary and essential for an unsynced workspace to function properly.
With that said, you eliminate the traditional form of synchronous communication — i.e. meetings, in-person collaborations, and so on — in this kind of work environment. Instead, crystal clear communication standards should be set up to help employees communicate in a healthy and productive manner.
This starts with documentation. Everything should be communicated via the right channels and in the right manner. That way, those who come after can understand the message. In addition, you can encourage healthy asynchronous communication via things like:
- setting up a reasonable time frame for responses;
- respecting interruption-free or “deep” work time; and
- recording meetings and calls to let others hear them when their own schedule allows it.
Keep in mind that this applies to an asynchronous in-person office, as well.
Even if you’re working in the same space, if you want to tap into the benefits of asynchronous work, you need to outline how your employees can properly communicate when they aren’t working at the same time.
Incorporate an asynchronous work element into your hiring activities.
It’s difficult to maintain an asynchronous workplace over time if you fill it with workers who cannot adapt to their environment.
As you establish an asynchronous philosophy for your workplace, consider what traits you want to look for in new hires to ensure that they can both thrive in and support your system.
One way to do this is to look for certain soft skills that tend to help asynchronous workers thrive. This includes things like independence, communication, and transparency.
In addition, consider questions that you can ask, such as what kind of environment a candidate likes to work in. The remote and hybrid communication brand Where adds that value-based questions can also help, stating as an example, “If your company values creativity, you can ask how they stay creative or approach finding creative solutions.”
Foster an asynchronous workplace culture.
Finally, remember that along with hiring the right people, you need to foster an asynchronous workplace culture. This will help your company maintain its asynchronous workplace strategy over time.
Matt Tucker, CEO of the organizational-alignment brand Koan, highlights several ways that you can do this, including:
- prioritizing transparency;
- respecting cultural differences;
- focusing on the quality of work rather than the quantity of work time; and
- creating clear, well-communicated goals.
Establishing a clear asynchronous cultural outline gives your enterprise a moral compass moving forward. It helps existing staff realign with expectations and gives new employees a better understanding of how they should act.
The rapid movement to incorporate asynchronous work is already effectively transforming workplaces all over the world. While its effects are easy to spot, though, establishing a healthy asynchronous workspace that can stand the test of time requires a good amount of forethought.
Use the tips above to ensure that you’re going about your shift to an asynchronous workplace the right way. Create a strategy and then use that blueprint to lead your disconnected yet unified team into the future with success.