The Advantages and Disadvantages of Asynchronous Work

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Asynchronous Work

Even more companies are exploring the advantages and disadvantages of remote and asynchronous work. 2020 saw huge numbers of companies switch to a remote work model, and as the conversation around the future of work continues, there are many experts who say that remote work should be done asynchronously. The TextExpander team has been async for many years now, so we’ve got plenty to say on the advantages of asynchronous work!

This blog post idea stems from one of our webinars, wherein we co-hosted a session with SaneBox on setting up your team for an async environment. If you’ve yet to give that session a watch we highly recommend you do, as it’s rich with tips to help you start or enhance your asynchronous team!

What is Asynchronous Work?

Let’s introduce async work by telling you about its common counterpoint: synchronous work. Chances are, you’ve worked in a synchronous workplace before. Synchronous work is when everyone clocks on and off together, just like a classic 9 to 5. There is no flexibility in those hours, and they usually take place on the same days every week. Most traditional office jobs are synchronous workplaces.

Asynchronous work is different: each individual clocks on and off according to their own personal schedule. Got an appointment on a weekday? No problem, you can start a little earlier that day or catch up if you have a quiet weekend. Need to finish early to pick up your children from school? You could either start earlier each morning or do another couple of hours when the kids are in bed if that appeals to you. It’s a hugely flexible approach that we love on the TextExpander team.

The Disadvantages of Asynchronous Work

Just like anything, there are aspects of asynchronous work that can be a challenge to those new to the idea. You’ll notice that these are all challenges that can be tackled with the right approach, but it’s important to do your research in preparing to switch to async working.

Asynchronous work requires complete trust

For some companies, this can feel like a big risk. By letting your team set their own schedules, you naturally can’t watch them working as you would in the traditional office environment. This approach means that your hiring process should be thorough and rigorous, letting you find candidates who would be suited to asynchronicity. Once you’ve found the right team, share common project management tools so you can always stay updated on the status of a project, regardless of the time zones of the team members working on it. For more on this subject, head over to the TextExpander x SaneBox webinar here.

Working as an asynchronous team demands discipline

We’ve touched on this a little above, but disciple is an essential part of async teamwork. Some employees love the in-built accountability of a shared office schedule and may struggle to thrive in an async environment. Again, great hiring practices and even employee training can go a long way in mitigating this possibility. You’ll find some of our top hiring tips here on the blog

Asynchronous work requires greater effort to create a team connection

Without proper thought and attention, it’s easy to leave an asynchronous team feeling lonely. Again, preparation is key here, as you will need to consider how you will keep a sense of unity within your async workplace. Consider what rituals you can instil that will create a feeling of connection. What events and practices would make your team feel more united?

If you’re looking for team-building exercises for an asynchronous team, stay tuned, as we have a blog post coming up on the subject very soon.

The Advantages of Asynchronous Work

For us at TextExpander and many similar businesses, the advantages of asynchronous work are many. Here are some of our favourites:

Async workers enjoy greater autonomy

Autonomy is baked into an asynchronous work model. Your team members are given the freedom to structure their days in the way that suits them best, which can feel hugely empowering. We discussed the need for trust in async workplaces above, and the upside of this trust is that workers with autonomy feel much more motivated. It can feel inspiring to know that your employer has faith in your character, rather than being micromanaged all day.

Asynchronous work can increase productivity

Async employees can work with their personal energy highs, so they can get more done in less time. This is huge for anyone who is in tune with their natural chronotype, AKA, our own personal circadian rhythm. According to the Sleep Foundation, only 55% of us have a chronotype that is best suited to traditional working hours. The rest of us, though, have completely different energy spikes. This means that almost half of a traditional workforce can’t perform at their best doing a 9 to 5. Switching to an async approach lets people choose their hours and harness the windows where a task could take 20 minutes to finish instead of 60. You can find more on harnessing your chronotype in our how to start your day productivity blog post.

Staff satisfaction rates may increase

We’re proud of our employee retention rate at TextExpander and our team often tells us asynchronous work is a contributing factor. Many on our team tell us they can’t imagine going back to synchronous work, now that they’ve enjoyed working asynchronously. They’ve shared that async work has helped them to enjoy the work more, because they’re doing it at a time that genuinely suits their energy levels and other demands on their time.

Employees can experience improved work-life balance

Speaking of demands on employees’ time, one area we see shine thanks to async work is work-life balance. It’s really important to us here at TextExpander, and we love knowing our team is flexible about when they work. So many asynchronous workers love that they have full flexibility for their hobbies and families. If there’s a fitness class you’d like to join, a therapy session you’d like to attend, or family commitments you’d like to honor, async work is for you.

A more inclusive work environment that lets you hire the best of the best

Async work’s benefits are many, but this has to be one of our favorites. An asynchronous workplace opens the floor to many who would be excluded from a traditional 9 to 5 environment. Working parents and people with certain health conditions are hard hit by the old school work model, but can say yes to remote and async positions more easily. This means that you have no time zone inequality and can hire the best possible candidates for a role, regardless of where they live or what their life circumstances are.

Watch Our Webinar On How To Set Your Team Up For An Optimal Async Environment

In case you’ve not had the chance to yet, you should definitely watch our webinar on all things async environments. We co-hosted with email management software app SaneBox and it’s packed with tips to help you get more out of your asynchronous set-up. We’d love to know how you found it over on Twitter!

Takeaways

  • Asynchronous work has been described as the future of remote work. It lets people work according to their individual needs and schedules.
  • Async work requires trust, discipline, and conscious team-building for success.
  • Workers on asynchronous schedules enjoy greater autonomy, leading to higher productivity and improved employee retention rates.
  • An asynchronous team can hire anyone from anywhere in the world. This avoids time zone inequality, while also benefiting from better inclusivity too.

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