With remote work on the rise, companies are developing structures that allow them to remain productive, even when their team is spread across multiple locations.
Asynchronous collaboration is a term that often comes up in the world of remote working.
Businesses all around the world are adopting asynchronous collaboration tools allowing their employees to work on their own schedule, ensuring a fair balance between team collaboration and independent work.
But what is asynchronous collaboration?
And how does it work?
In this article, we’ll look into asynchronous collaboration and how to get the most out of it.
Table of contents
- What is asynchronous collaboration?
- What is an example of asynchronous collaboration?
- Benefits of asynchronous collaboration
- Limitations of asynchronous collaboration
- How to use asynchronous collaboration effectively
- Avoid these asynchronous collaboration mistakes
What is asynchronous collaboration?
Asynchronous collaboration is a method of working that involves people collaborating on a shared project or task at different times.
In other words, it’s a non-real-time collaboration that happens at each participant’s convenience and time schedule.
What is an example of asynchronous collaboration?
To give you a better understanding of what asynchronous collaboration is, we’ll use an editorial team as an example.
The writer is based in Mexico, and the editor is located in Germany.
After the writer submits their article, the editor will review it and likely offer feedback.
Because of the difference in time zones, the editor cannot provide feedback in real-time and instead will use a messaging platform to send feedback notes.
They then wait for the writer to see the notes and respond.
Because collaboration and communication are seldom in real time, each member of the project upholds their part of the process to ensure the task is completed efficiently.
Benefits of asynchronous collaboration
Asynchronous collaboration offers lots of benefits both for business owners and employees. Let’s have a look at some of the major advantages it brings to remote and hybrid teams.
Record of communication
There’s a constant record of communication between team members.
If you need to check what you discussed with a colleague or client last week, you can easily access your conversations.
Most async communication apps have a search functionality so you can quickly get the information you need and proceed with your tasks.
Many people believe that asynchronous collaboration also leads to increased productivity, and there’s a strong argument for that theory.
If you are not a morning person and a teammate pitches an idea early in the morning before you’ve got your coffee, you won’t be able to provide valuable feedback.
Asynchronous communication allows remote employees to work on their tasks whenever they feel most productive. Furthermore, it also increases efficiency.
The very nature of asynchronous collaboration means you can diversify your team by hiring in multiple locations around the world.
Research suggests a diverse workplace boosts productivity, innovation, and a company’s bottom line.
Limitations of asynchronous collaboration
Of course, asynchronous collaboration isn’t without its limitations.
For those needing an immediate response to a problem, having to wait several hours may prevent them from moving forward with their work.
However, with the steps outlined below, you’ll be able to limit any potential barriers that come with this way of working.
How to use asynchronous collaboration effectively
We’ll begin with the essential steps you need to take to ensure you create a positive culture within your organization when using asynchronous methods of working.
Train your team
It’s essential your team is fully trained on work processes when working remotely.
A well-trained team member will have better success when working independently, and this, in turn, creates a free-flowing remote working environment.
Something to note is that training isn’t only vital when onboarding new remote team members.
On-going training as work evolves and processes change is as equally essential for productivity.
While you’re empowering your team by letting them work independently, you must implement realistic expectations and boundaries.
These should include deadlines for tasks, as well as clear expectations for the level of communication (and response times) you want among your team members.
Provide the right resources and tools
To ensure a smooth remote work process, your team needs the right tools to help them complete their tasks and communicate with the rest of the team.
Apps like Google Drive allow teams to collaborate on documents and presentations while apps like Slack and Pumble make communication easier when team members work at different times of the day.
The best project management tools allow you to bring everything under one roof by offering a range of tools for task management and internal communication, while also allowing you to add multiple team members to your account.
💡 Pro tip
If you are looking for a remote or hybrid team management tool, you should consider this one. It allows you to control all the aspects of remote workflow – scheduling meetings, hosting video calls with your team and external collaborators, shared team calendar, automatic reminders, and much more.
Promote transparency and feedback
A culture of transparency and feedback helps build trust within the team.
Because an asynchronous way of working means there will be periods when your team members are working alone, it’s important they feel comfortable asking questions or providing feedback.
Transparency can lead to some difficult conversations, but if you have an open, non-judgemental culture, it means you can handle them with ease and move forward much quicker with work and improved processes.
Avoid these asynchronous collaboration mistakes
Below are some habits that may materialize when implementing asynchronous collaboration and why it’s essential you avoid them.
Don’t leave messages unresponded
You may start your working day greeted by a long line of messages from team members working at different hours.
This may feel overwhelming, but it’s important that you ensure each team member receives a response.
To maintain good remote team communication, allocate yourself a block of time (or blocks) during the working day that you dedicate to catching up on messages.
To help manage expectations, set your availability status on your messaging app so other team members know when you’re available and when you’re away or busy focusing on something else.
Don’t forget to document carefully
Whether it’s on a piece of work or a team meeting, you must keep a clear concise record of all communication.
This means giving clear instructions when a piece of work needs changing or developing further and ensuring you keep easily accessible records of feedback.
Don’t neglect alignments
There will be times when work schedules cross over and you will work alongside team members at the same time.
Utilize this by having real-time virtual meetings.
Not only does it enable you to iron out creases in your workflow, but it’s also a great way of building professional relationships, which in turn should benefit you in terms of productivity and work-life satisfaction.
Asynchronous collaboration certainly helps remote teams work well together, even if they’re available at different times.
The steps above aren’t difficult to implement, they just require consistent and clear communication. You can also look for resources for managing virtual teams.
Mauricio Prinzlau is the CEO and Co-founder of Cloudwards. He is at the helm of the company and steers a team of editors, writers, and designers from all around the world.