The days of arriving at an office at 9 a.m. and leaving at 5:30 p.m. may be coming to an end. More and more employees are looking for remote jobs they can complete from their home offices, and companies are looking globally to bolster their rosters. The marriage between interest in remote work and employers hiring distributed workforces has bred an interest in asynchronous work.
What is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous work means that employees are not expected to be online and working at the same time, or answer messages immediately. This is opposed to synchronous work, which is the more traditional working model in which teams have set work hours in the same time zone and are expected to immediately answer messages and attend meetings.
Asynchronous work allows companies to hire globally. For example: when the work day starts in San Francisco, California, it’s 1 a.m. the next day in Tokyo, Japan. Unless a California company would want to ask its Japanese employees to work way out of work hours, they should employ an async model. That way, the California employees can work during normal hours and the Japanese employees can work during normal business hours.
Asynchronous work means that employees can work at their own pace without interruptions to their workday, and without having to wait for other team members to complete their work.
Benefits of Asynchronous Work
Asynchronous work has many benefits. It allows employers access to the wider global talent pool while allowing employees more independence during their workdays.
A few overarching benefits of asynchronous work include:
- Prioritises employee independence
- Allows companies to hire distributed employees across the globe
- Enhances team productivity by allowing employees to complete projects without waiting on their team members
- Builds trust between managers and employees
- Makes employees in different time zones feel like an equal part of the team
- Facilitates transparency and open communication across the team
- Can help build work-life balance as distributed teams aren’t expected to work outside of hours in their time zones
How to Communicate With and Manage Asynchronous Teams
Successfully adopting an asynchronous working model will require clear and open communication between managers and team members. Especially when trying to communicate across time zones, all updates need to be efficient, important and clear.
Add Gaps Into Your Scheduling
If someone working on a project lives in a different time zone, add gaps into your schedules so that the work won’t fall behind. Add one day between project steps to make sure that the project will still be delivered on time even if a life event comes up for one member of the team.
Only Have Necessary in-person Meetings
Asynchronous work means that in-person meetings will essentially be a thing of the past at your company. However, some may choose to still have virtual meet-ups. These should be used sparingly and scheduled at times that are comfortable for every person invited — without breaking too far out of work hours.
Times when it may be beneficial to meet up include hirings, redundancies, 1-1s, emotional conversations.
Technology is going to be hugely important for asynchronous teams. As most distributed employees aren’t able to regularly communicate face-to-face with their teams, technology fills the gaps and makes sure projects (and teams) stay on track.
Asynchronous teams may use the following platforms:
- Email: Formal communication that needs a paper trail.
- Instant messaging: Informal, short communication or check-ins.
- Project management platforms: Scheduling and work updates.
Care For All Time Zones
If you’re hiring globally, you need to be prepared to take care of your employees in different time zones. This may mean moving meetings to different times to make it more comfortable for different time zones. If someone had to join a meeting at 8 p.m. their time, schedule the next one so they can join during work hours.
An asynchronous work model means that employees work during work hours in their own time zone and aren’t expected to answer messages instantly. This model works for remote teams and distributed and global teams.
For more information on how asynchronous work can benefit your company (and how to manage it), check out the following infographic: