Asynchronous Work: The Work Model of the Future
November 17, 2023
The year is 1914.
Consider yourself an industrial worker working on an assembly line at a car manufacturer. While the car moves along the conveyor belt, you attach its wheels and wait for the next car. Your co-workers must be present simultaneously to accomplish the other related tasks; in their absence, the vehicle would move down the line without the next critical part. Since you are working with equipment, you cannot ‘carry work home.’
The above situation seemed straight out of our childhood history books. However, in today’s times, technology optimizes processes and enables collaboration across time zones.
You are reading this on your laptop or smartphone, which is evidence enough that you leverage technology to accomplish your job!
This is exactly why adhering to a work model designed for a ‘different time period’ does not augur well in today’s world.
Introduction: The Story of ‘Work’ After the Pandemic
COVID-19 made an ‘unimaginable’ story a reality: 100% remote work for office employees worldwide. As the pandemic fades away and organizations reopen in a hybrid setting, they find themselves geographically distributed. Since no two colleagues working in the same team share the same office space, working together under the weight of obsolete work paradigms is no longer justifiable. In other words, workplace changes should be accompanied by a consistent change in work operations. In the context of a remote work environment, it requires going beyond the conventional clock-in and clock-out. If the old way of conducting work was synchronous, with everything happening at the same place and time, then the present and future of work are asynchronous—with everything happening at various places and times!
Data availability supports the need for an asynchronous work model. As per the Remote Workforce Report 2023, 44% of organizations are growing their global recruiting numbers, implying that more employees from various nations would collaborate across time zones. Long story short, working asynchronously is not just preferable but also ideal in the professional world, where teams include employees from locations worldwide.
Asynchronous Work: Meaning and Significance
‘Asynchronous’ refers to something that does not happen simultaneously for everyone or in a predetermined order. This work model allows employees to choose when and where to work, as well as how and how much to work! Therefore, teams can collaborate efficiently across time zones, locations, energy levels, and skills.
While working asynchronously, individuals can boost their efficiency without waiting for others. In asynchronous work, immediate communication is not anticipated. This means that employees can offload their work pressure. If a project necessitates collaboration, it can be accomplished using online chat, video conferencing, or email—even if participants are not present in the same meeting location or time zone!
Below are the benefits of asynchronous work:
- Working asynchronously reduces fatigue and enhances creativity by allowing focused work. This lets employees break out of a cycle of hyperresponsiveness.
- It allows collaboration across geography and time zones, enabling organizations to broaden their talent search and employ the best individual for a job, irrespective of their location.
- Asynchronous work boosts employee well-being and health; it is especially beneficial for those with caretaking responsibilities or health issues.
- Dependency on documentation and visibility promotes decision-making by acting as a project repository for the reference of the existing and future workforce.
- Asynchronous work embraces the diversity in the natural workstyle of employees while giving them more autonomy and freedom.
Tips to Work Asynchronously in 2023 and Beyond
- Aim for Fewer, but Better Meetings
Meetings are synchronous. This implies that you can work asynchronously if you do not need to attend meetings. However, reducing the number also implies that the meetings held add value! Therefore, it is advisable to design a meeting agenda to focus on critical items.
- Acknowledge One Size Does Not Fit All
It is essential to realize that one size does not fit everyone. Listen to your employees and understand what asynchronous communication means to them and how they envision it working. A team is more likely to succeed if you keep the general guidelines broad and allow teams to negotiate specifics at their level.
- Specify Core Collaboration Hours
All of us agree that no work model can be completely asynchronous. Real-time communication is often required due to the need for an immediate response, like troubleshooting. Therefore, it is advisable to schedule some time every day for employees to be online for synchronous communication.