Asynchronous work is a simple concept:
Do as much as you can with what you have, document everything,
transfer ownership of the project to the next person,
then start working on something else.
Preston Wickersham, Start-Up Mentor
Asynchronous work describes a method of progressing shared projects and tasks where collaborators are unable to communicate live.
With the majority of hybrid teams working across multiple time zones and locations, you will not always be present or even online for an in-person chat, handover, or conflab, so asynchronous work is a necessary feature.
Given the time lag and potential impossibility of asking a quick follow-up question – documenting everything clearly and concisely becomes asynchronous (async) priority number one!
According to GitLab there are lots of reasons why employees love async. These are the six most cited by employees:
Benefits of Async
- Provides Autonomy Empowerment & Agency
- Increases Efficiency & Productivity
- Increases Inclusivity
- Alleviates Stress & Supports Mental Health
- Encourages Thoughtfulness & Intentionality
- Bridges The Knowledge Gap
How To Make It Work?
Being apart from your colleague(s) when you are communicating with them creates opportunities as well as challenges. We all know about voicemail, voice notes, looms, and recorded meetings, but do we always think about the experience of our async colleague when creating these?
Here’s a checklist for ensuring that async messages are fit for purpose:
Asynchronous Communication Checklist
Is this the best format for them to receive this info? Written? Audio? Video?
Have I provided sufficient context for them to understand the task?
Read, watch, or listen back: Does it make sense?
Tone is tricky – have I adjusted for negativity bias?
What resources will they need to complete this? Check they have access.
Have I documented and shared this message in a way that can be found easily later?
And if you found this topic interesting – your team might enjoy our brand new course from The Conscious Professional – Essential Skills for Hybrid Workers which includes sections on hybrid teamwork, overcoming conflict, hybrid meetings, time management, and digital wellbeing!
By Neil Seligman
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