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Here at Standups, we believe that distributed work is the future of work, and that’s fundamentally the main reason we launched our product to help teams run async standups. Distributed work is deeply linked to being asynchronous —|āˈsiNGkrənəs| —usually just async. The concept is not easy to grasp at first for most people. Its official definition is: “[said] of two or more objects (or events) not existing or happening at the same time”. In shorter words, asynchronous means that things do not happen in real-time.

By going async, you free up both ends in the communication process from having to be synced up. And the best about it is that you can still communicate effectively even when you’re not responding immediately.

This style of communication is becoming more and more popular due to the rise of remote work within companies around the world. Distributed & remote work is a trend that’s here to stay as companies of all sizes are starting to realize the great benefits it brings to their organizations.

And, surprise! Even if you are on a full on-site team, you are already doing async communication partly —unknowingly— by using email, discussing new functionality through a JIRA ticket, or by answering to a Slack question when you allocate the time for it —and not as soon as you receive the question.

So here are a few points where async communication will help and benefit your team:

Longer Streaks of Uninterrupted Work

By going async you can help your team achieve uninterrupted work: it lets your team members stay focused on their work. No strict timed replies. Respond as you can. Your team members are never really “bothering” each other, but rather communicating when both parties are available to do so and work on the topic.

Easier Decision Making

Never depend on fixed calendar meetings. No need to have to organize everybody together in a room, at a specific time, to just make a decision. No meeting room found? Let’s postpone the decision making for 3 more days, at an inconvenient time, because that was the best slot we found, the other slot was just impossible to work out. All of this is a hassle, but still widely accepted.

Allowing More Thoughtful Responses

We all take part in work conversations, and it is very important to be able to say the right things, with the right tone, at the right time. When we’re confronted with a question within a topic and are always expected to reply right away, not always the best answer comes out immediately after the question is made. This is where async communication comes in handy: it allows you to think more and help you compose a better and more suitable answer within the conversation.

Stored Conversations That Can Be Referenced

Today there are great tools out there that allow you to store and reference async conversations you have with your team. Indeed, here at Standups, we built the ability to store all your video updates, with an unlimited history, so any person from a team can refer back to one of the messages later in time, which is especially great when you’re wanting to see how something ended up working out, by seeing progress of it through the related stored videos of the task.

The Need to Be Online (Or at Your Desk) Is Now Gone

When you have an async communication process in your team, there’s no more need to be “online” ❇️ with a green badge, or by your desk, in order to be reachable and be part of a meaningful work conversation. You can just start a conversation around a topic, no matter where the other team members are in that moment. This will liberate your team and will sweeten up your team culture by helping to drop the sense of urgency for most topics that get usually addressed in a team.

Overcoming Time Zone Issues

Time zones issues are a topic on its own, and one of the main challenges surrounding distributed teamwork. Luckily, this problem can be reasonably solved by implementing async communication. Since in distributed teams one team member can still be sleeping, already another team member can start to add to a conversation, and later in the day, the other team member can catch up and contribute his/her points to the discussion.

Conclusion

Async communication helps your team members increase their productivity and effectiveness, by allowing them to become more flexible at work. Most of the processes within your team don’t have to happen in real-time in order to be successful and reach their main goal.

Your team doesn't need to be distributed or fully remote in order to start leveraging the benefits from async communication, as your team is probably already doing async communication of some sort without really noticing it, by using email, responding to a Slack message only when you get the time for it, after a doctor's appointment or after picking up your kids from school.

On our next post, we will cover more in depth how to actually implement a basic asynchronous communication strategy within your on-site or distributed team.