Asynchronous work can help your remote and hybrid teams thrive. In this article, you’ll learn how to adopt asynchronous working styles to make your distributed workforce more productive and engaged. You’ll also discover how working asynchronously opens the door to accessing top talent worldwide.
The concept of asynchronous (async) work isn’t new, but it’s been popularized by the recent shift to home working. It’s a trend that’s helping businesses around the world break free from traditional, more prescriptive styles of work, resulting in boosted employee productivity and a sense of well-being.
Asynchronous work isn’t just for fully remote teams; hybrid and office-first teams can also learn a great deal from working asynchronously. In this article, we’ll show you why adopting async work practices is key to your business success, as well as how to tackle some of its main challenges.
Working asynchronously can deliver great results for your business. Here are the main reasons you should embrace it:
A recent study by Future Forum demonstrated the positive effects of flexible work arrangements. Their Remote Employee Experience Index shows that "workers who have the option of working a flexible schedule score higher across every element of the Index than those made to continue working 9-to-5."
For example, those with access to flexible hours scored nearly twice as high on productivity as their 9-to-5 counterparts. Work-life balance and managing work-related stress and anxiety also proved more achievable for those on a flexible schedule.
Off the back of its study, Future Forum recommends asynchronous work as the first step to enabling flexible schedules for employees.
Asynchronous simply means “not occurring at the same time,” so asynchronous work involves one or multiple teams working and communicating on different schedules. Employees may be spread across numerous time zones or work flexible hours, so they won’t always be online at the same time.
While remote working is often associated with asynchronous work, the two aren’t one and the same. Remote teams can still work synchronously, particularly if everyone is based in the same time zone and is expected to be online during the same hours.
For example, during the pandemic, many companies were forced to close their offices and ask their employees to work from home full-time. Some of these businesses embraced flexible, asynchronous working, while others tried to replicate the office in a virtual setting. This involved traditional 9-to-5 hours and back-to-back Zoom meetings, which caused fatigue, loss of productivity, and low engagement.
As a result, these business leaders feared that remote work wasn’t right for their teams, so they ushered their employees back into the office at the earliest opportunity.
However, remote working can and does work incredibly well, especially if you adapt to asynchronous practices.
The difference between synchronous and asynchronous work is how colleagues work together. Synchronous work relies on instantaneous communication, which is typically found in a traditional 9-to-5 office setting. On the other hand, asynchronous work allows colleagues on different schedules to work together more flexibly.
While asynchronous work isn’t always easy, there are plenty of actions you and your teams can take to make the process as smooth as possible. Here are our top tips and tricks for making asynchronous working effective for your business.
Adopting an asynchronous work model can benefit your business in many ways. Not only does it increase employee productivity and engagement, but async work can also support your global expansion strategy.
Asynchronous working is largely free from the interruptions associated with traditional 9-to-5 synchronous work models. This creates more opportunities for focus and productivity.
Instead of back-to-back meetings, you can block out big chunks of your day dedicated to deep work. And without the expectation or pressure of instant communication, you can reply to emails and Slack messages at a time that suits your schedule.
By removing distractions and meeting fatigue, your team members regain headspace to do their best work.
Asynchronous work empowers your team to work independently and autonomously, which helps to create a culture of trust.
There’s no place for micromanagement in asynchronous work models, as every team member is responsible for managing their own workload and schedule. While relinquishing some of that control may seem daunting, trust is a vital component of a compelling company culture.
A culture of trust gives your team the freedom to carry out tasks in a way that suits them. Not only does trust help to keep employees engaged, but it also gives them permission to take risks and innovate, which will undoubtedly help your business in the long run.
Working asynchronously allows for a great deal of flexibility, which is crucial for employee well-being and engagement.
Since the pandemic began, many employees have expressed their desire for more flexible remote-friendly work. Well-managed asynchronous work is an effective way of listening to your teams’ needs and keeping them engaged.
Flexible working also promotes a better work-life balance and is more inclusive of different lifestyles and personal commitments. After all, not everyone works in the same way. Some feel most focused in the morning, while others prefer to work late at night. Giving your employees the option goes a long way to improve well-being and engagement.
Global expansion and international recruitment can help your company grow and thrive, but if you want your distributed teams to work better together, asynchronous work and communication is the answer.
Once you adapt to asynchronous work, expanding internationally becomes simpler. You can use async collaboration tools to discuss projects with teams based abroad, for example, or build strong relationships with suppliers in different time zones.
If international expansion or recruitment is on your agenda, be sure to prepare for asynchronous working using our top tips above.
While there are many benefits to asynchronous working, it can be challenging too. From delayed responses to unclear boundaries, here are some of the things you should consider when preparing your asynchronous work model.
We live in a world where communication is instant, and the traditional workplace is no different. It’s no wonder that business leaders are apprehensive about asynchronous work.
Without careful planning and dedicated resources, async work can undoubtedly lead to poor communication. Whether it’s a misinterpreted Slack message or an unanswered urgent email, communicating online certainly brings challenges.
Asynchronous communication can be very frustrating, especially if you need an urgent response from a co-worker who’s not online and may not be for hours to come. As a result, decision-making and sign-off processes can become longer.
Delayed responses may lead to missed deadlines and opportunities, which is why planning ahead and removing bottlenecks are essential for asynchronous teams.
While flexible working is a great opportunity to reclaim work-life balance, some employees may struggle to switch off. This is especially true if they keep work-related notifications enabled on their cell phones.
Responding to messages at all times of the day and night can lead to burnout, stress, and disengagement. Async work requires clearly defined and respected boundaries between professional and personal life, so your colleagues can enjoy quality downtime.
One of the main arguments against remote working also applies to online asynchronous work. If team leaders don’t make an effort to create opportunities for socializing and virtual “water cooler moments,” interpersonal relationships can suffer. You may find that employees start to work in silos, and collaboration efforts may suffer too.
Some employees may also feel isolated and lonely without regular social interactions, leading to poor mental health and engagement.
While asynchronous working does have its challenges, our above tips will help you and your teams to overcome them and communicate effectively.
Now you know how to make asynchronous working a success, you’re free to hire talent from across the globe without worrying about productivity taking a hit. But employing remote talent abroad can be challenging. That’s where Omnipresent can help you.
Our global employment solution allows you to hire the best talent in over 150 countries without setting up local entities. We take care of employment contracts, payroll, applicable local compliance needs, benefits, and more so you can focus on welcoming your new hire into the team.
Omnipresent makes it easy to employ, pay and support your international team. Book a call with us to start building your global team today.
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