Skip to main content

3 min read

Evolving teams: The world of asynchronous work

two people working async in different locations

Until recently, remote or distributed work focused on team members' locations and their impact on collaboration. While still relevant, there has been a shift to discussing how we work.

Asynchronous (async) is now a well-known term within companies with remote and distributed employees worldwide. But what does it mean to work 'async'? In this blog, we'll explore a definition, the benefits organisations see when adopting this method, and some hints and tips on enabling and supporting async work for effective team collaboration.  

copy_text Icon
Copied!

What is asynchronous work?

We will never replace situations where synchronous (sync) communications will always win. They're crucial in sensitive situations, for getting to know people, building relationships, brainstorming, and dealing with a crisis. But we're all familiar with the mantra 'this meeting should've been an email' or the challenge of trying to find a time for a busy group of people spread across multiple timezones to meet, so we need to find other ways of working together that enable efficiency but maintain connections. That's where asynchronous (async) working comes into play.

Async means working together with others without interacting or working simultaneously in real-time. We can still collaborate but contribute at our convenience. Do you send emails or instant messages on Slack or Microsoft Teams, contribute to forums or wikis, or mark up documents for your colleagues to review when they come online later in the day? Then you're already working async.

copy_text Icon
Copied!

The benefits of working async

Some of the advantages offered by working this way: 

  • Flexibility—teams can work at their most productive times at their own pace with greater autonomy to manage priorities for a better work-life balance and reduced burnout. 
  • Collaboration across timezones—teams can work well together without being online simultaneously.
  • Reduced overload—this work method reduces frequent meetings, allowing more time to complete tasks, minimising overload, and reducing burnout.
  • Promotes agility—progress doesn't depend on real-time meetings, and teams can progress tasks individually and make progress toward a steady flow of work.
  • Better focus and productivity—without the pressure of immediate responses, team members have fewer interruptions, less context-switching and can prioritise deep work, critical thinking tasks and innovation. A recent blog from Atlassian explains that, on average, people take nine and a half minutes to get back into a productive workflow after switching between digital apps.

In summary, asynchronous work can promote a more efficient work environment by using technology to facilitate communication, collaboration and productivity.

copy_text Icon
Copied!

Enabling async work practices 

For this way of working to succeed, organisations must create a culture that fosters autonomy through clear communication, expectations, workflows, and processes. However, some criticisms, including potential misunderstandings without real-time interactions or lack of immediate support to help team members with guidance or support, are being addressed by organisations by implementing newer technologies.

While tools like email, instant messaging, and video conferencing remain the norm, they are now complemented by newer platforms and solutions—including work management tools, such as Jira and monday.com—for better task management, tracking progress, and communicating through comments and notifications. These tools help ensure everyone stays informed and independently on track with their responsibilities.

Work management platforms are also innovating to provide more integrations to support evolving teams. AI features such as automated task assignment and management, smart scheduling, and data-driven insights support async work management. 

Another example is video messaging platforms like Atlassian's Loom, which integrates with many other tools. Users can record short videos for more personalised communication, including tutorials and screen recordings, and they can convey facial expressions and tone in a way that written communications can't always achieve. What’s more, embracing this kind of tech can help overcome challenges encountered by globally distributed teams working async via text when nuance doesn't always translate across language or culture. 

To learn more about async work management solutions, contact our expert team for a chat.

copy_text Icon
Copied!

Speak to our work management experts