In FlexJob’s 9th Annual Work Flexibility Survey, 79% of respondents asserted they would be more loyal to their employer if they had further flexibility, while their Mental Health America Survey found 48% said flexible work options mean their work-life balance is very good. To facilitate this desire for flexible work, asynchronous workflows are essential.
Technology companies such as GitLab have already implemented asynchronous work for a number of years, and there’s no reason other organizations can’t follow suit to reap the same rewards.
Leveraging the power of asynchronous work can transform the way your organization operates. It can also help give your employees more freedom to manage their work effectively.
Rather than being confined to specific working hours and patterns, they can focus their efforts to benefit their working methods. With the right tools, you can still track and manage their performance and trial different workflows to achieve individual and organizational goals.
Understanding asynchronous work
Asynchronous work is a way for employees to organize the order of their workflow in line with their own timetable. In asynchronous working environments, communication isn’t expected instantly, and workers can fine-tune their practices to suit their schedules.
As a result, it reduces pressure on employees and leads to improved productivity. It’s also a reliable option for organizations that operate in multiple locations across different timezones or have remote teams.
Asynchronous work means it’s rare all employees are online or present at the same time, but more importantly, that those online can have periods of ‘focus time’ where they’re not constantly interrupted with notifications. For this work model to be a success, there has to be robust yet flexible processes in place for employees to work autonomously.
This type of approach maximizes productivity as work is no longer directly connected to constant synchronous essentials such as communications and set meeting times. However, for it to work, organizations have to trust employees to perform effectively.
Leveraging asynchronous workflows
To maximize asynchronous work, you need to implement the right processes and allow your employees time to adapt. The recent months spent reliant on remote teams means many organizations are primed to embrace asynchronous workflows. Here are five tips to help you leverage the power of this approach:
1. Remove time zone bias
For truly asynchronous workflows, especially if you have globally-based employees, time zones can’t be a dictator for collaboration. Leaders must work to remove the bias towards certain time zones.
Essential meetings and other business-crucial tasks should be on rotation across different time zones to include the entire team. You should also record all sessions so those unable to attend due to timezone differences can access them when suitable.
If your company is leaning too much towards a particular time zone, it tells the wider organization that asynchronous workflows are not a priority.
2. Invest in the right tools
Asynchronous communication works well when there’s organization-wide alignment. HR leaders must select the right tools that are globally accessible and suitable for the processes required.
LumApps specializes in employee-centric internal communications. Regardless of location or timezone, our tools work effectively to ensure seamless asynchronous workflows. Every employee can easily access the tools they need and benefit from a personalized experience, regardless of their location or language.
3. Document with care
Asynchronous workflows are only effective if everything is properly documented. This sounds formal and administrative, but your communications and the work itself will form part of the documentation.
If people on the same teams are working in different time zones or slightly different schedules, they need to be able to access what happened when they weren’t at work. Workflow and project management tools can be really effective for ensuring people’s to-do lists and tasks are well managed. They also ensure employees can work flexibly to their preferred schedule without falling behind.
4. Meetings still matter
Respecting the timezone bias already discussed is essential for ensuring asynchronous workers are able to engage in regular meetings. Trying to keep things simple, short, and to the point will also help. Not only does this improve the efficiency of meetings, but also how valuable they are, therefore enhancing the asynchronous workflow. To achieve this, try providing meeting notes and required material in advance.
It’s also important to realize there are some processes that require synchronous communication. For example, one-to-ones and difficult conversations relating to underperformance or other issues will need regular meetings, Zoom calls or in-person chats if feasible.
5. Recognize progress
If your organization is shifting from a traditional working model to asynchronous workflows, it will take time. However, it’s important to adopt a culture of progress to support this kind of work environment. For example, moving a project forward as effectively as you can in your time zone with no one to bounce ideas off is better than getting no work done at all.
It’s understandable if asynchronous workflows seem impossible to align with your current working methods. Many organizations didn’t believe remote work would be possible at scale before the pandemic.
If you reassess your position and consider the benefits of asynchronous work for your wider organization, you may realize it’s worth the shift. Asynchronous work allows your employees more flexibility and access to larger blocks of uninterrupted time without constant, unnecessary communications. With a commitment to the right tools, processes and your people, your organization can easily help its employees maximize their potential and maintain their work-life balance.