Not working at an office five days a week is a challenge. You have to figure out a new hybrid way of working with your team.
But this is actually a good thing because the old way of working where you would only collaborate in real-time and make decisions in meetings was causing a lot of issues for organizations of any size.
So if we really don't want to waste a good crisis, let's set a new standard for knowledge work with asynchronous communication.
- One of the most significant benefits of not working at an office five days a week is that you can design your work around your life instead of the other way around.
Now, one of the biggest challenges with that is that you have to figure out a new way of working together with your team.
But this is actually a good thing because the old way of working where you would only collaborate in real time and make decisions in meetings was long overdue.
So if we really don't want to waste a good crisis, then let's set a new standard for knowledge work with asynchronous communication.
And the goal isn't to eliminate face-to-face interaction entirely but with an async-first approach, you'll rebalance your way of working so that written communication becomes the default, meetings are more purposeful and team members can work on a schedule that's best for them because if the office is not the default anymore, and everyone is working from different locations and has different working hours, then how can you
collaborate with each other? The answer to that is to figure out what kind of communication really needs to be real time and what communication can be done asynchronously.
This will help you free up a huge amount of time you would otherwise spend in meetings without compromising on the information you need to be productive.
And that not only gives you more focused time to do deep work, like creating a new feature for your website or refining your strategy for the coming months but it also frees up your time for more social interactions with your colleagues to build meaningful relationships or to simply go outside for a walk because there's a good chance that if you watch this video, you are sitting more than eight and a half hours per day.
The difference between real-time and asynchronous communication may seem obvious but it will surprise you that you can do more things asynchronously than you might think, okay? So let's talk about definitions and benefits.
Real-time communication happens at the moment, so face-to-face or a video call or maybe a phone call.
By contrast, async communication can happen over a longer period of time, like a prerecorded video, an audio message or a document that you work in together.
And while this may feel slower, it turns out that every decision you make this way will be the foundation for the next thing.
It's like building a well-structured house and everyone can add to that house.
Both real-time and async have clear advantages and disadvantages.
Real-time communication can be faster and more dynamic and can be a great way if you want a group of people to be actively engaged about a topic.
But the problem with real-time meetings is that most of the time, there's no clear agenda, no preparation done for the meeting and no one to facilitate the interactions of the team.
This often leads to unproductive meetings, because people are distracted or maybe multitasking on things they find more important.
And what I love about async communication is that there is simply no need to schedule a meeting, which means you can work at your own pace with fewer disruptions and that makes it possible for you to truly design your work around your life.
And a positive side effect of async communication is that you create a permanent record of your work.
In meetings, a lot of information you talk about is lost.
But when you record a video of you explaining how a difficult process or a system works for your team, then all of your future teammates can also watch that video instead of having to ask you to explain it to them.
The biggest challenge with async communication right now is that a lot of people don't have experience with it yet.
That's why it can feel scary at first and maybe even less productive or sometimes it's just as simple that we don't think about the fact that a meeting could have been handled async as well.
For example, daily stand-ups, a 15-minute event for a team to create an action plan for the coming 24 hours, daily stand-ups can be perfectly replaced with async text, audio or video.
I created a YouTube video about that how we can start replacing your daily stand-ups with tools like Loom or Yacc.
An extra benefit of making your dailies async is that other teams can scan the highlights and be more aware of what is happening in your team.
This replaces a part of the informal water cooler conversations and can multiply productivity for the whole company.
So I want to invite you to start working more asynchronously to become more productive and flexible at the same time.
And a great way to get started with that is to make use of this flowchart by Twist.
This flowchart helps you to decide if your meeting can be replaced, let's say with an email.
Let's make it async.
So what you can do is pick a recurring meeting and would anyone miss this meeting if you canceled it? Well, if it's no, then it's pretty clear.
We follow the line all the way down and they say send an email but I say make it async.
But if you go the other route, so let's say, for example, people would actually miss it if you canceled it, let's pick a different color for that, so people would actually miss it.
Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure.
And does this meeting involve more than three people? Let's say yes.
Yes, I mean.
Do they all really have to be there? No.
Then what you could do is have the meeting with the small group and then at the end of the meeting, record a five-minute video, just record your Zoom call or your Google Meet call with a recap of the meeting.
This way people don't have to rewatch the full meeting.
They only get the highlights at the end.
They are informed and you can move forward.
And this is just one of many ways how you can start replacing your meetings with async ways of working.
So if you want to become more productive and be more flexible at the same time, let me know down in the comments below what meeting you want to replace.
Just describe the meeting in a sentence or two in the comments and I will help you out how you can replace the whole meeting or maybe parts of the meeting with asynchronous ways of working.