What is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous work means that team members are able to complete tasks on their own time without having to be in the same place and time as their peers.
Unlike synchronous work (collaborating together), Asynchronous work and communication are usually apparent in remote or hybrid work settings where people are working in different timezones, schedules and routines.
Asynchronous work (async work) is the idea that not everyone performs best during the same hours of the workday. As long as deliverables are being met and everyone has access to the information needed wherever they are, teams are more agile and productive.
The Benefits of Asynchronous Work
- Employees can work at their most productive hours
Since employees are free to manage their own time at work, they are free to schedule their work around their lifestyle, commitments and goals. The eight-hour day isn’t eight hours when you consider commute times, getting settled in at work, following up on old emails – the list goes on.
- Better Communication & Documentation
Less in-person meetings mean more of a need to improve written documents that outline essential workflows, processes and operations.
- Uninterrupted Work
Fewer distractions mean more time to complete deliverables.
- Minimized Time Zones
Asynchronous work allows for teams to work outside the typical “9 am-5 pm,” which means it is easier for international teams to communicate.
- Planning and Deliverables
Asynchronous work allows the focus to be on deliverables rather than time worked, increasing the accountability of team members.
The Negatives of Asynchronous Work
1. Need clear guidelines and expectations
According to Gallup, only 36% of employees are engaged in their work and workplace. Globally, 20% of employees are engaged at work. Actively disengaged employees report miserable work experiences and are generally poorly managed.
Loneliness and isolation are among the largest reported concerns amongst remote workers and some symptoms of isolation include increased stress levels and bad decision making.
3. Need Additional Software and Remote Tools
As workers telecommute, communication and management issues are likely to occur that wouldn’t exist if you are next to your team at the office. This is where the proper use of tracking tools and communication tools are important.
4. Separation of Work and Life
According to Buffer, separating work from free time is the biggest challenge for distributed teams.
Top Asynchronous Work Statistics
Human Concentration Is Limited
According to a NY Times article, due to natural variation in our alertness, we can concentrate for no longer than 90 minutes before needing a 15-minute break.
Asynchronous Work Saves Time
Remote workers save around 2-3.5 hours a day from the reduction of commute times and in-person virtual meetings.
The average time spent commuting to the office is around 54 minutes according to Rescue Time.
The Typical Workday
Adobe Researchers found it was not uncommon for workers to spend a full 80% of their workdays communicating with colleagues in the form of email (on which workers spend an average of six hours a day).
Meetings (which fill up 15 percent of a company’s time, on average); and more recently instant messaging apps (the average Slack user sends about 200 messages a day).
Work-Life Balance Improves Cognitive Health
Exercise and breaking up your workday actually improve your cognitive health and ability to engage in deep thinking.
Synchronous Work Has Its Downsides
Synchronous communication requires constant focus shifts and makes creating large, uninterrupted chunks of time during the workday impossible.
Meetings Can Be Unproductive
- Nearly 79% of working professionals believe virtual meetings are equally or even more productive than in-person ones.
- Over half of employees (51%) get irrelevant invitations to meetings.
- Nearly half of US employees (49%) experience virtual meeting fatigue.
According to the Harvard Business Review,
- 65% of senior managers said that meetings keep them from completing their own work.
- 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
- 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking.
- 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
The Office Is Not One Size Fits All
In the United States, 86% of Hispanic and 81 percent of Black knowledge workers, those who do non-manual work, said that they preferred hybrid or remote work, compared with 75 percent of white knowledge workers.
Globally, 50% of working mothers who participated in the studies reported wanting to work remotely most or all the time, compared with 43 percent of fathers.
Minorities feel better supported and receive fairer treatment in a remote or hybrid environment.
Hybrid Work Increases Productivity
According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year.
More than 20% of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office.
Employees Want Choice
Nicholas Bloom (an economics professor at Stanford) collected responses from 17,000 employees in the United States about their attitudes toward working from home vs. the office.
50% preferred a hybrid schedule.