Asynchronous work revolves around getting to know the individuals you’ll be working with. The lives we lead are changing as quickly as the technology that shapes them. And because technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, the modern and conventional definitions for work have changed along with it.
One of the major changes in the modern workplace is the redefinition of the workday, as more offices move to remote and virtual workstyles. This remote working requires more asynchronous work–work that happens by team members at different times of the day (or night).
Asynchronous work rejects the standard 9-5, allowing for more flexibility and higher productivity for staff and employers alike.
What is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous work is the act of working together while also not necessitating that the individual projects be exclusively completed simultaneously by every member of a team. Working asynchronously allows teams to work on a project collaboratively without being in the same time zone or location.
By maintaining a virtual connection, teams can work in collaboration with almost any member of any schedule, knowing they are all working on their own time.
What is the Difference Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Work?
Synchronous vs. asynchronous work is pretty straightforward. Think of the standard business week, business day, and business hours. Previously, most work was done synchronously–at the same time at the same location, whether via meetings, phone calls, or just within an office.
To have people work together, the standard business schedule synchronizes times and locales, whether physically or via digital group phone and video call meetings. Everyone is present and work gets done neatly within that time frame.
Working asynchronously allows work to be done at various times, allowing for virtual work, increased productivity, schedule flexibility and many other benefits. But for work to get done accurately and completely asynchronously, we need asynchronized communication.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Much like asynchronous work, asynchronous communication is conversations between teams that happen with time lags in between parts of the conversation. Any time you send an email, and someone sends one back an hour later–that’s asynchronous communication. But when you’re on a video call, that is considered synchronous communication.
How Does Asynchronous Communication Work?
Asynchronous communication works by allowing two or more people to engage in conversations without needing to occupy the same time or space. It also allows discussion to be picked up when most convenient for each team member, which might vary depending on time zone, schedule, role, or even productivity window.
The chances are incredibly high you have already participated in asynchronous communication, since you’ve most likely:
- Sent an email or text
- Left a voicemail or sent a voice memo
- Worked on a collaborative online document
- Sent a Loom
As you can see, asynchronous communication requires some sort of platform or online tool to be possible, and the varying degrees of potential interaction largely depends on each individual type of software used.
The Benefits of Asynchronous Work
The premier benefits of asynchronous work are the opening of possibility and potential. With this resource in your pocket, you can enjoy:
- Virtual work from home
- Asynchronous work for students
- Removed time zone barriers
- The ability to go international with your talented teams
With identical time and space no longer essential for team productivity, there are almost endless possibilities. It even allows for more time to be spent on a project when the team is available to approach it at a time that’s best suited for their schedules.
The other major benefits come along in the form of transparency. Teams can now be more interconnected, and departmentalizing occurs less frequently. As a result, your workplace begins to feel less divided and more like a central company, where unity and culture forms due to more interaction and accessibility to information.
Limitations and Challenges of Asynchronous Communications
While asynchronous communication has numerous benefits, it’s always helpful to toss some face-time in there. At the very least, the most thoughtful or complex discussions should occur where a team can interact in real-time, either on a phone call, video call, or in person.
Plus, the stories people share at work can be just as fulfilling as the work itself. So in order to maintain that, there is a degree of synchronous meeting that should be prioritized.
How to Implement Asynchronous Workflows
Implementing meaningful asynchronous work revolves around getting to know the individuals you’ll be working with. While it might be harder than picking an asynchronous collaboration software and giving it a go, understanding your teams is what will ultimately provide the most meaningful productivity and communication.
Some tips to best implement asynchronous work:
- Remember, it’s important to remain connected to some personal level! Getting to know your teammates (such as learning their names and even some of their interests) can add that human element back into it.
- Face-to-face shared time should be also prioritized and regularly scheduled. After all, it would defeat the purpose of asynchronous work to try and introduce an impromptu video call with a team.
- Create outlines for the subjects requiring the most fully-present attention, as well as events that can connect the team more on that personal level. With the high-value outlines complete, it may soon become apparent that asynchronously working on a project saves time on the remaining projects.
- Don’t overlook the value of intentionally and thoughtfully sorting through what levels of fully-present group attention projects or areas need. That way, you can reduce your synchronous work to being a centralized planned event.
The key takeaway here is that there should only be a small handful of meaningful events that need to be routinely executed. Whether it is once a week or once a month, the goal is to keep cohesion while allowing people to work comfortably within their schedules of optimal productivity.
Best Tools for Asynchronous and Remote Work in 2023
Being mindful and thoughtful about what strengths exist in your teams and what needs your teams have can greatly be improved by the right software. The following software companies are designed to elevate working asynchronously.
Almanac is a software fundamentally centered around a dedicated asynchronous work philosophy, and is a complete replacement to Microsoft and Google group-capable software. By allowing teams to have threaded chats and work in real-time editing spaces, your asynchronous work and communication is synced into one easy-to-navigate software and knowledge management system.
And when it comes to actual editing, writing, and creative work, Almanac’s features stand out against other softwares. Shared document links allow for modification between teammates, without tampering with the original copy.
Further still, a detailed thread displaying the full history of document edits, along with built-in analytics, makes perfecting a document that much easier. There is also a convenient feature to manage accessibility between private and public access at any moment.
Utilized by giants like The American Red Cross and Indeed, as well as Algorand and the University of Maryland, Almanac prioritizes innovation to help teams get work done with certainty and meaningful collaboration.
- Real-time editing
- Custom fonts for documents
- Document Analytics
- General team editing that retains a copy of the original document
- Person-to-person feedback texting with reminders and activity feed
- Private or public access to documents options
- Full history of edits
- Customizable company handbook
- Features creative spaces with custom images
Slack is a work and group collaboration software company that tries to make group work more efficient. The software focuses on social connectivity, allowing users to message and reply with emojis, as well as start private channels.
Slack offers connectivity across platforms, with over 2,400 apps within the software. While this initially seems like an impressive feature, Slack can become overwhelmingly complex and it takes time to get accustomed to the wide toolset available. Some of the downsides of Slack include:
- The overwhelming amount of features can take time to get used to
- If used improperly, it can serve to distract more due to the very easy-to-use social functions
- The abundance of options can make it difficult to navigate, or peacefully stay on top of work due to frequent announcements and notifications
- Content may be deleted due to inactivity
- Integration of other group-collaboration tools
- 2,400+ apps available to use
- Social-Media-Esque Interface
- Multiple channels for personal or professional use
- Private and Public channel options
- Slack can be used for free
- Users may also pay $6.67 monthly if in a small team (annual payment)
- They can also pay $12.50 (annual payment) for businesses
- Enterprise pricing is determined by contacting Slack
Founded in 1998, Confluence is a group collaboration software that aims to maintain transparency while it connects teams to working remotely while simultaneously. The software allows teams to interact via gifs or memes, and it also has a blog option.
That said, Confluence can be difficult to navigate, especially for the novice user. Furthermore, it also struggled with the occasional issue of real-time editing not showing up accurately, leading to confusion among users.
- Real-time editing
- Offers features for likes and replies with images and gifs
- Team notifications when team members are tagged
- Home page activity feed
- Blog options
- Free for groups under ten, but doesn’t include premium features
- A Standard account is roughly $5.50 per member
- Premium pricing is roughly $10.50 per member
- Enterprise pricing is by-contact with Confluence
Trello is a software company that specializes itself in being a flexible work-management tool. The goal of Trello is to organize workflows and avoid missed deadlines. From planning to completion, Trello aims to provide easier methods to get work done as a team.
However, it offers only limited storage and requires internet connectivity to use. Plus, its overabundance of cards (dashboard icons) can become unpleasantly overwhelming.
- Calendar and spreadsheet view
- Dashboard with visual due dates
- Integration of Slack and Jira
- AI Bots to distribute responsibilities
- Free with limited access, features, and storage
- $5 standard membership
- Can upgrade to a $10 premium membership
- Enterprise pricing by contact (but a rough estimator tool can be found on their website)
The goal of Yac is to make teams work asynchronously and meaningfully through the connection of the user’s voice. Replies and communication are handled by voice replies rather than text ones.
Despite this novel feature, though, Yac can be difficult to navigate initially and has its share of occasional bugs. It can be unclear whether you sent a message or not, leading to missed or duplicated messages.
- Voice recordings
- Whiteboarding–pasting links while recording audio
- Screen recordings with drawings
- One-click sharing
- Asynchronous meetings
- Direct reporting of software bugs
- Free with limited use and limited chat history access
- $3 unlimited access membership
The Best Practices for Asynchronous Workers
The best practices for asynchronous workers entail being mindful of each other. More than faces and names on screens, teams are made up of individuals choosing to work together on a project.
Understanding the human aspects of working together as a team, and determining individual and group strengths and areas of practice, will take asynchronous workers the furthest. Furthermore, implementing a personal regimen and routine for work will help asynchronous work benefits reveal themselves most.
And of course, the right software dedicated to asynchronous work will optimize the final habits that are otherwise difficult to manage. By maintaining the right level of interpersonal and independent work time, the right software will greatly improve your work.
Final Thoughts: Why You Should Be Working Asynchronously in 2023
Since the time and place constraints present for many jobs just do not apply anymore, the future is undoubtedly asynchronous. With technology giving people the option to work remotely and with flexible hours, asynchronous work just makes the most sense for the modern jobs that benefit from it most.
By being free to work, and being free to stay connected to a team, work and life can actually begin to reach a balance, leading to more productivity for workers, employers, and businesses.
And when you have the right remote team management tools in your back pocket, you'll finally be able to work with them with greater ease–no matter where they are located. To learn more about how Almanac's software can help you better streamline your async work, reach out to their friendly sales team today to get started!