If you manage a remote or hybrid team, you know there are some unique challenges that come with it.
Dispersed teams can struggle with communication, scheduling, and staying on top of project tasks or priorities. Or, they can just have a harder time connecting as a team that’s not in the same physical space.
And as this type of work continues to increase, you’ll need to find creative solutions to adapt.
Asynchronous work might be the answer. It’s a work style where exchanges don’t happen in real-time and employees work on their own schedule to complete responsibilities.
The benefits of asynchronous work to employers are many. Here’s what it is, how it supports businesses, and tips to have it work for you and your team.
What is Asynchronous Work?
Even in a traditional work environment where employees are in the same office, some tasks are handled asynchronously. Whenever someone answers an email hours later or lets a call go to voicemail, they’re not communicating in real time.
But teams are now starting to purposefully work in an asynchronous way. In this model, one employee might work in a different time zone, another prefers evenings, and yet another breaks up work into chunks throughout the day.
Asynchronous work is:
- An intentional strategy implemented by company leadership
- A way to accommodate employees in different geographical areas
- Accommodating for teammates with personal commitments to work around (i.e., family)
- A strategy to boost employee autonomy and productivity in their work
Asynchronous work is not:
- Equivalent to remote work; teams that work from home can still operate synchronously on the same schedule
- An excuse for employees to do whatever they want during the day
- The right solution for all teams or leaders, as there can be challenges with accountability and communication
Why Asynchronous Work Matters
Employee autonomy over their own schedule is a hallmark feature of asynchronous work. But this doesn’t just benefit your team. As a manager or leader, you reap the benefits of more engaged employees who are operating at peak productivity on their ideal schedule. There are three main benefits to asynchronous work:
- Better prioritization: Employees can work on what’s most important and move forward with projects without waiting for others to complete tasks. This helps you reach company goals or targets in a timely, more efficient manner.
- Increased productivity: Your team can choose to work when and where works best for them. This increases productivity, benefitting employees with a sense of accomplishment and employers through better output.
- Easier hiring: An asynchronous work schedule will make your position more appealing to top talent abroad. Hiring remote talent can be a cost-effective solution or, simply, you have access to a broader talent pool. If you’re looking at hiring across borders, check out our top tips for hiring remote talent here, too.
Because asynchronous work empowers employees, it has the potential to make your team more productive, focused, and engaged. This, in turn, boosts business outcomes and makes your job as a leader easier and more impactful.
5 Dos and Don’ts of Asynchronous Work
Asynchronous work empowers employees with more autonomy and can lead to higher engagement and productivity. But it’s not without challenges, too. To successfully implement this strategy with your team, consider these dos and don’ts of asynchronous work.
DO co-create standards and expectations
Asynchronous work will only be successful if everyone’s on the same page. To get buy-in from your team, bring everyone together to co-create standards and expectations to follow. Here are some guiding discussion questions:
- How often do we want to hold team meetings? What time is best for everyone?
- What’s considered “urgent” and needs an immediate response?
- What tools are most effective for communication?
- How can we identify and communicate hard and soft deadlines?
DON’T forget about personal boundaries
The danger with removing the 9:00-5:00 parameter is that employees may struggle to maintain boundaries. It’s easier to work overtime when you’re not held to specific hours in an office. This is particularly true for those who work from home—creating separation between working and living space is a must.
For this reason, you need to model boundary-keeping to your team and encourage them to do the same. Here’s how to do it:
- Communicate the best way to reach you during work hours and how long your team can expect a reply
- Keep your calendar up-to-date with your availability
- Don’t send emails after your own stated work hours
- Clearly delineate urgent vs. non-urgent questions or tasks
DO make space for interpersonal connection
Another potential downside to asynchronous work is the same as remote work: a lack of natural, spontaneous interpersonal connection.
Without a shared physical workplace or time when everyone’s together, it’s harder to foster connections and build a strong sense of community and belonging. But building a strong remote work culture is essential for your team’s success.
If you have a distributed team, here are a few ways to foster connection:
- Have a fun-only Slack channel or WhatsApp group
- Use on-demand meeting rooms to periodically bring your team together in person
- Host social events and activities to build rapport over shared experiences
- Run trainings, courses, or other professional development opportunities
- Offer coworking memberships to employees who prefer working away from their home office
DON’T forget about timezones
There are naturally fewer meetings in an asynchronous work setting, but they still need to happen. Make sure you’re scheduling meetings that work for everyone or at least rotate through times so everyone has a chance to meet at an ideal or less-than-ideal time.
- Pro tip: Identify a few ideal meeting times when you’re creating team standards and expectations. Having a few blocks on the calendar is a good way to take the guesswork out of things when it’s time to book a meeting.
DO decide on the best tools
Apps and tools can be essential for asynchronous teams’ success, but too many can be a detriment. The key is to choose the right communication and productivity tools that help everyone do their best work without adding to the workload themselves.
Here are a few of our favorites:
As more teams operate remotely or with hybrid schedules, asynchronous work will only increase. When done correctly, it can increase employee autonomy and productivity, which ultimately supports your goals as a leader, manager, or business owner.
If you’re a small business owner or independent professional looking for the support and tools offered by a full-service office, book a tour of Co-Balt today.