However, companies that offer hybrid schedules face several challenges. Employees in traditional office settings all complete work at the same time, or synchronously. However, hybrid businesses are better served by following asynchronous schedules.
How asynchronous schedules work
Asynchronous schedules give even more flexibility to companies and their employees. Businesses allow employees to complete work at different times of the day instead of at the same time. This means people can contribute from various time zones and locations worldwide.
Many companies with fully remote or hybrid teams can benefit from switching to asynchronous work. Embracing this schedule can also make employees more productive. It reduces the stressful sense of urgency many office workers feel and invites intentionality. People can follow their own timetable to improve projects and get them ready for the next person to tackle.
How to work well asynchronously
No schedule is perfect. Traditional, synchronous work comes with challenges like office distractions and time lost to in-person meetings. Asynchronous workers experience a different set of challenges:
- Personal distractions, such as a cat or a nearby refrigerator
- Less connection to fellow employees
- Confusion over instructions
- Inability to reach other employees quickly
- Poor work/life boundaries
Synchronous work is represented by a three-legged race at the county fair, while asynchronous work is more like a relay race. In both cases, people work together to achieve a common goal. However, asynchronous employees work on different schedules from each other and must master the art of a successful handoff. Here are five ways to build strong, asynchronous hybrid teams:
1. Set clear expectations
The most important way to make asynchronous work successful is having clear communication. There may be limited personal contact during the workday, so employees must know what’s expected and have the resources they need to succeed independently.
Need to establish a strong start? A major project should start with a video conference or even an in-person meeting to establish goals, explain the flow and set up for the next few weeks or months of asynchronous work. In-office managers should make sure this meeting is set up in a central space to allow some initial facetime and easy communication.
Next, make sure established goals and instructions are clear and accessible as the team dissipates to work on their responsibilities. Team members, in turn, should make it a practice to leave clear notes that explain their work for the next person who looks at it. Companies can use online platforms to track progress and easily send projects from one employee to another.
2. Provide personal support
Remote, asynchronous work can come with a set of new distractions. Employees may not have a dedicated space for their jobs, they may be interrupted by pets or children throughout the day, or they may feel overwhelmed by a lack of work/life boundaries.
Ultimately, asynchronous teams need to establish a strong sense of trust. Managers can’t rely on walking around and seeing workers in action anymore, so new metrics are essential. Instead, management can use daily and weekly priorities to assess how work is being done and whether a team member’s work environment is affecting their ability to deliver on assigned projects.
When obstacles appear, companies can help asynchronous workers succeed by creating a support network to hold them accountable and help them devise new strategies for personal growth. This can come through set management check-ins and funding for investing in better remote work setups.
3. Use smart systems
Asynchronous teams need clear systems they can follow throughout the day to minimize confusion. For example, they should know how to access and start each project. Companies can build structures for communication, project flow, feedback and more.
The most productive asynchronous teams have systems down to a science. Employees know who to contact, when to reach out and how to streamline their workflow. Rigid routines allow creativity because employees must meet goals while staying within project requirements.
4. Encourage team building
Hybrid teams are often in danger of losing the inspiration and connection that comes from working with others. Asynchronous employees struggle with this even more since they aren’t all working together simultaneously.
However, companies can create opportunities for genuine connection and team building even with asynchronous employees. For example, they can schedule interactive group events online and foster connections through a collaborative site like Slack or Mango. Every employee should feel that they matter to the company.
5. Invest in personal development programs
Asynchronous employees also benefit from personal development programs. Companies can encourage growth by investing in happy, engaged employees who can set healthy boundaries. These programs improve self-discipline and productivity by helping people determine ways to grow.
Self-development programs may include reading, lectures and even in-person training events. Most effective initiatives also include self-reflection for better retention. They reduce burnout and empower employees to develop skills for better performance and a healthier life.
Time to asynchonize your hybrid workforce
Asynchronous schedules work particularly well for hybrid companies because they ensure all employees are on the same page — even if they aren’t in the same time zone. Working this way requires intentionality, clear communication and extra support. It may seem like more work, but asynchronous schedules lead to focused, highly productive teams.