Organizations are still trying to solve remote and hybrid work problems, like overwork, Zoom fatigue, exhaustion, detachment, and disruptions. Those in leadership, management, and teams know that managing the appropriate mix of asynchronous and synchronous communication is essential to their success.
In the old way of working, decision-making and creative thinking took place in a shared office. However, professionals often find it hard to adapt to new approaches to working.
How can teams benefit from async communication? The seven essential elements to adopting an effective asynchronous workflow that enhances teamwork and communication are:
1. Develop a virtual first working mentality
For asynchronous communication to be effective, you need a virtual first working mentality. To have a virtual first mentality, teams must:
· Adopt a location-agnostic mindset rather than a physical presence.
· Create an environment that encourages workers to set their schedules and work on their terms.
· Be honest and open.
· Have confidence in your coworkers and staff.
Asynchronous communication and collaboration have a positive impact on productivity. Remote and hybrid teams can use asynchronous communication to improve their professionalism and customer service.
2. Prioritize asynchronous meetings over synchronous meetings.
Meetings are increasingly becoming the primary way that teams communicate. Changing how you do things with your team will help you save time and be more inclusive. Doing this will create new routines with your team that will save time and is more inclusive. Work habits that are easy to do asynchronously, such as sharing information, working with others, and solving problems, should be the first things you change.
3. Increase the effectiveness of synchronous and asynchronous meetings.
Think about how to use synchronous time intelligently and consider who comes to the meeting. Schedule meetings on purpose instead of just doing it because you’ve always done it. Be proactive about prework and follow-up work which attendees can complete asynchronously, which will free up time for everyone so you can be more productive with your time together. Use tools that help people work together like, Teams, Loom, MURAL, and Google Docs, to make this mixed meeting format work better.
4. Cut down on how long you spend on face-to-face meetings.
It’s exhausting and annoying to spend all day in meetings. As a result, you may work longer hours and feel more irritated. It’s exhausting to be working all the time and not have any meaningful human interaction to lean on. As a team, plan on scheduling and attending fewer and shorter meetings each day.
5. Expand the amount of uninterrupted quality work time.
By reducing unexpected phone calls, meetings, or texts, you’ll have greater control over your schedule and work more efficiently. Take advantage of the tools you have to facilitate continuous work time. Set aside time in your schedule for jobs that need concentrated attention. Delete email notifications from your phone to avoid unnecessary disruptions. Either through your calendar or Slack status updates, let your coworkers know how and when you will be accessible.
6. Set expectations to reduce the number of interruptions.
It is easier to manage expectations and increase communication when you make it clear to others what is expected in terms of response time, availability, and timetable. For example, availability for both one-on-one and group sessions should be agreed upon at the beginning of a project. Likewise, improve response time by sending regular reminders, such as Teams/Slack status updates, and directing people to relevant documents.
7. Clarity on information storage and sharing.
Having information that is both readily available and transparent implies that you are not dependent on the time of others to obtain the information you require, and the other way around. In addition, it would help to make sure that decisions and processes are in written meeting notes and digital reports, centrally stored and shared, so there isn’t any confusion.
Understanding these principles is critical, but it is challenging to put these ideas and recommendations into practice and incorporate them into habits. For example, professionals see the need to work asynchronously but are unsure how to do so or how to convince others to do so. However, groups will soon learn about project management’s nuances and how it works by breaking it down into small, manageable steps.
Utilizing Async Solves Five Work Problems
Asynchronous first practices are becoming more common in businesses that adopt remote and hybrid work models because async first work habits save time because they cut down on interruptions and give people more control over their work. Async also provides more meeting time spent on brainstorming solutions that strategically use synchronous communication. Once adopted, employees want async communication to be the primary communication method.
Asynchronous practices solve these five problems:
1. Zoom Fatigue
The term “Zoom Fatigue” was first used during the pandemic. Employees are still reporting high levels of exhaustion, but companies haven’t yet come up with practical ways to deal with it. Begin small. Consider if leaders should conduct all of their meetings through videoconference. I commonly hear from teams who rely on daily synchronous stand-up meetings to maintain communication. Is it necessary for these to be synchronous? Try these steps:
- Use a mixed meeting method by setting an agenda and prioritizing asynchronous work before the meeting to keep the sync section short.
- Set a daily or weekly limit on the number of sync Zoom meetings held. Rather than spending all day in front of a computer, a group may agree to meet for no more than two or three hours a week to keep everyone in sync.
- Allow employees to have cameras turned off for some meetings or designated days. When cameras are off, it allows participants to take care of their mental health and take time for themselves.
- Consider walking meetings and time away from the computer as an alternative.
2. Information Overload
There is such a thing as information overload. Because more information is being shared than ever before, finding what you’re looking for can be difficult. It’s a source of frustration I can relate to.
Consolidate all project-related information into a “One Source of Truth.” This might be as basic as a doc or sheet including all links and references to a single topic or a more sophisticated sequence of summary papers, tasks, SOPs, or project data contained within a project management tool. Use a template or uniform structure for each type of OSoT, and designate owners to update them regularly to keep them organized and precise.
As a result, all employees will be able to get their hands on more communication, data, and documentation.
3. Feeling Compelled to Reply to Everything Immediately
It’s time to set up some rules for how you communicate. Then, your team can agree on how and where to communicate with a communication charter.
According to a new study, recipients overestimate how quickly senders expect answers to non-urgent business emails. The study continues by emphasizing the stress that this might cause the receiver, possibly unintentionally by the sender. Thus, how can you overcome urgency bias?
Set a high bar. An essential part of every team’s communication plan should include this. Signaling on your communication tool to let others know that you’re not available, for example, is another way to manage expectations of your availability.
Clear up expectations. If you don’t know when to respond, ask. Or you can say that you’ve read the message and will get back to them at a time that works for you.
It’s okay to be sluggish. All Greene, the HR manager at Oyster HR, said that she chooses not to if there are no expectations about how quickly she should respond. As long as she responds in a time frame that works for her, she doesn’t say sorry for the timing.
4. Eliminate Work Interruptions
On average, employees are stopped every 11 minutes and wait 25 minutes before they resume their previous activities. 2-4 hours a day might be wasted on interruptions if there are no restrictions to manage them.
Find out what is causing the disruptions. Each employee is impacted differently by interruptions. Some are annoyances, while others are requests from customers or coworkers.
To stop getting notifications, turn them off. When tiny red dots or bold lettering show up, it’s easy for professionals to get out of deep workflow mode. Turn notification off or signing out of distracting platforms right away reduces the number of interruptions during focused work time.
Give yourself enough time to respond. Both senior and junior staff continue to express a desire to be available to colleagues. Rather than being constantly available, be transparent about the times you intend to be available. Verify that this time slot corresponds to the demands of your coworkers as well.
5. Avoid Work Isolation
Isolation is a big problem for people who work from home, and they and their coworkers need to take active steps to avoid it. However, this can lead to more video meetings, which can bring us back to the original problem that we were trying to solve in the first place.
Make your approach unique. Ask your team how much time they need and want to be able to work together. All sides gain from dialogues that contain self-disclosure, discussion of roadblocks or obstacles, emotional or energy check-ins, storytelling, amusement, and even venting. Maintain a conscious effort to increase the types of contacts that energize colleagues.
Async should incorporate connections. To build stronger relationships, teams have channels dedicated to specific interests where members may engage with one another. For example, a wide range of hobbies, such as reading, sports, travel, and environmental issues, might serve as inspirations.