In today’s ever-evolving work landscape, asynchronous work has redefined how companies operate and teams collaborate. As the traditional 9-to-5 office model gives way to flexible schedules and remote work opportunities, asynchronous work, where employees complete tasks independently of each other and at different times, has become a popular way of working.
While asynchronous work offers numerous benefits, such as increased productivity and flexibility, it also presents unique challenges, particularly when it comes to fostering a strong company culture — an important part of any business.
But fear not, you can have an asynchronous team that maintains a sense of togetherness. Here’s all you need to know!
Is working asynchronously the future of work?
Working asynchronously has undeniably become a significant part of the future of work, driven by advancements in technology, changing workplace dynamics, and the global shift towards remote and flexible employment. While it may not be the exclusive future of work, it represents a pivotal component of it.
Factors encouraging asynchronous work include:
- Globalization: As businesses expand their reach across time zones and borders, asynchronous work allows them to tap into a diverse talent pool and provide services around the clock.
- Flexibility: Asynchronous work accommodates a variety of work-life arrangements, empowering individuals to better balance personal and professional responsibilities.
- Technological Advancements: Collaborative tools, cloud computing, and communication platforms have made it easier than ever to work effectively across different schedules and locations.
- Productivity: For some tasks, asynchronous work can enhance productivity by enabling individuals to focus deeply on their work without constant interruptions.
However, it’s important to note that synchronous work—real-time collaboration and face-to-face interactions—still holds significance, especially for certain roles and industries. The future of work is likely to embrace a hybrid model that combines asynchronous and synchronous elements to optimize productivity, innovation, and work-life balance.
Ultimately, the future of work will be shaped by the specific needs and goals of individual organizations, industries, and the evolving preferences of the workforce.
How Does Asynchronous Work Shape Your Company’s Culture?
Asynchronous (async) work refers to the practice of working on a team that does not require all members to be online simultaneously. So, whether you’re thinking about hiring internationally, (services like Remote can help with this process) or you want to create a less stressful work environment, asynchronous work is a great fit.
However, the physical distance and time zone disparities inherent in asynchronous work can create barriers to communication, collaboration, and the cultivation of shared values which all contribute to your company culture. Knowing which areas of your business might be affected means you can implement the right changes to make things better.
Here are some of the ways that asynchronous working may affect your company culture and how to resolve them:
Communication gaps can arise due to different working hours and time zones. So, while platforms like Slack can be incredibly useful, when people aren’t on at the same time the potential for misunderstandings and miscommunications grows. Vital details may be missed, questions may go unanswered for extended periods, and the organic flow of conversation that occurs during synchronous interactions can be disrupted.
This asynchronous environment, where immediate responses are rare, can lead to more profound consequences than just practical hiccups. It can foster a sense of disconnection among team members, where colleagues may feel isolated from one another, unable to experience the camaraderie and rapport that often naturally emerges during face-to-face or synchronous digital interactions.
This feeling of detachment can have a detrimental effect on company culture, as a strong culture often thrives on the bonds and relationships formed within the workplace. Creating well-documented processes and procedures means that everyone is on the same page while implementing a shared calendar system that allows team members to see each other’s working hours and availability can help them plan meetings or discussions during overlapping times.
The absence of real-time interaction in an asynchronous work setup can have a profound impact on the emotional well-being of employees. The isolation that can result from working independently, often in different time zones and with minimal face-to-face or synchronous virtual contact, may lead to a deep sense of loneliness.
Your team should feel like one. Unfortunately, some individuals may miss the sense of belonging that often comes with working in a shared physical space. To make everyone feel like they’re part of a wider team, virtual social events can be a great way of bringing people together whether that’s a virtual lunch, online game, team building activities or something else.
As a manager, you also need to have regular check-ins with your team. Bi-weekly video calls, either as a one-to-one call or team call, can maintain good communication. It doesn’t have to be formal either. A quick catch-up about life outside of work is just as important and care shows your employees that you care.
Lack of Spontaneity
Asynchronous working can prevent informal interactions and spontaneous brainstorming sessions that nurture creativity. It might seem like a small oversight, but spontaneous interactions can strengthen team cohesion, similar to how informal gatherings or chats at the office coffee machine allow team members to bond, share experiences, and build relationships.
In an asynchronous setting, these opportunities for bonding are reduced, potentially impacting the company’s innovative culture. Encouraging team members to be proactive in reaching out to colleagues for ad-hoc discussions or brainstorming sessions can stop work from feeling so rigid and make team members feel more comfortable reaching out to their teammates.
Recognizing the value of spontaneity in innovation is crucial. It’s in these unstructured moments that groundbreaking ideas often emerge. By fostering an environment where spontaneous interactions are encouraged, organizations can tap into their teams’ creative potential and maintain a culture that thrives on ingenuity and collaboration.
Lack of accountability and trust
Finding the delicate equilibrium between autonomy and accountability in asynchronous work environments is essential. On one hand, the beauty of asynchronous work lies in allowing employees the freedom to manage their schedules and tasks independently, promoting a sense of ownership and responsibility. However, that doesn’t mean completely ignoring deadlines — this can often lead to micromanagement.
It’s equally crucial to strike a balance that ensures productivity and maintains accountability. Continuous issues like late deadlines or incomplete tasks can disrupt workflow and compromise the quality of work. Without a foundation of trust, asynchronous work can devolve into a disjointed collection of individual efforts rather than a cohesive team working toward shared goals.
A culture that lacks trust in employees can make them feel undervalued or micromanaged. It can also deter employees from taking initiative. To avoid this, promote open and transparent communication and recognize employees who consistently meet their responsibilities and contribute positively to the team.
What’s the best approach for improving work culture in an asynchronous team?
Understanding how asynchronous work influences your company culture provides the foundation for implementing strategies that strengthen and preserve it. Remember, the longer you leave underlying holes in your company culture, the harder it becomes to undo those behaviors.
Here are some simple yet effective steps to approaching your company culture:
1. Define Core Values and Cultural Principles: Begin by identifying and articulating the core values and cultural principles that your organization holds dear. These principles should guide behavior, decision-making, and interactions within the team.
2. Lead by Example: Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping the work culture. Leaders should exemplify the desired cultural values and champion a positive work environment. Look at the way you approach work. Does it mirror the type of work culture you want to see? If not, make changes!
3. Ask your employees for feedback: One of the most effective ways to improve company culture is by actively seeking input and feedback from your employees — an anonymous feedback form is a great option. Ask about communication, work-life balance, collaboration, or inclusivity to pinpoint areas that require attention. Most importantly, share your outcomes and make changes.
4. Measure and Benchmark: Implementing regular culture assessments and benchmarking against industry standards is a strategic process that allows businesses to measure the effectiveness of their culture-enhancement initiatives. See what other businesses are doing. Staying competitive in terms of culture will help you retain employees and attract the best talent.
Fostering a strong company culture in an asynchronous work environment is not only achievable but essential. While the traditional boundaries of the workplace may have shifted, the core principles of culture remain steadfast: trust, communication, inclusivity, and a shared sense of purpose. For more workplace tips, check out our guide to automating your meetings, or read up on these 10 easy steps for onboarding remote workers.