Asynchronous Work Analysis

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Asynchronous Work Analysis

Key Takeaways

  • Asynchronous work occurs when members of the same team work at various periods of the day. It contrasts with typical working paradigms in which everyone is expected to be accessible during the same time, such as 9-5.
  • This sort of workflow is enabled by technologies such as email, message services, and collaboration spaces, which allow for the collection, delivery, and storage of information in a readily accessible manner.
  • Asynchronous work allows employees to work during the most productive hours of the day.
  • Employee retention has also been cited as a benefit of GitLab's choice to become all-remote. They estimate that the overall benefit, combining productivity gains and property cost reductions, is $18,000 per worker per year.
  • The P2 tool has been so successful within the company that Automattic has made it accessible to everyone. Anyone can create a blog on WordPress.com and enable P2 themes.

Introduction

GitHub Inc, Zapier, and Automattic used cases were studied surrounding the implementation of asynchronous work, specifically, what the company did, the drivers behind the change, success metrics that resulted from the use cases, and statements from their leadership team speaking to this change. Collaborative communication, respect, collaborative tools, transparency, and work-life balance are five of the industry's best practices. Furthermore, a brief description of asynchronous work and implementation guide has been provided in the document.

Concept Overview; Asynchronous Work

Description:

  • Asynchronous work occurs when members of the same team work at various periods of the day. It contrasts with typical working paradigms in which everyone is expected to be accessible during the same time, such as 9-5.
  • This sort of workflow is enabled by technologies such as email, message services, and collaboration spaces, which allow for the collection, delivery, and storage of information in a readily accessible manner.
  • Although remote work sometimes requires a lot of asynchronous communication, these two phrases are not interchangeable.
  • Remote companies expect their employees to sit at their home desks from nine to five, such as in the office, and engage in synchronized activities such as Zoom check-ins.
  • However, when working asynchronously, employees work on their schedule, which can be very different from that of their colleagues. This means that communication will not happen immediately. People respond to work hours at a convenient time. An online hub like Google Docs or Dropbox makes this easier. Employees can access the resources they need on their own and then send completed work to other colleagues.

Number of Companies that uses Asynchronous Work

  • The number of companies using asynchronous work was not publicly available.
  • According to the 2021 Remote Work Survey, "74% of all respondents shared that people on their immediate team are in multiple time zones."
  • According to the 2021 Remote Work Survey, "73 percent of all respondents shared that their company is operating in multiple time zones."

Common Risks/Challenges Associated with Adopting an Asynchronous Work Structure

How Asynchronous Work Fits Into Remote/Hybrid Office Environments

  • While it is possible to have a remote/hybrid office environment without the incorporation of the asynchronous work environment, asynchronous work cannot take place outside a remote work environment.
  • By allowing teams to work asynchronously, communication becomes more focused and less distracting.
  • Normalizing asynchronous communications can help improve the work-life balance of employees by reducing their interactions with messages and emails outside of business hours.
  • Asynchronous work allows employees to work during the most productive hours of the day.
  • In asynchronous communication, more things must be written for people to read important information. And because everything is documented, it's easier for people to teach.
  • It relieves the pressure of immediate response. Taking time to think about your responses allows employees to think well and deliver a quality message rather than a futile response.
  • Easy communication and collaboration across time zones. When an immediate response is not expected, the company can hire employees from anywhere, as team members from all over the world can contribute to the project. This in turn supports a diverse workforce.
  • Better plan. Because asynchronous communication does not rely on immediate data entry, employees must plan with remote team members to work on projects and processes. This can have a positive impact on the company as a whole by forming an active rather than a passive mindset.

Implementation Guide

Asynchronous Work Implementation

  • The easiest way to do asynchronous thinking is to ask questions like: “If no one on my team (or my company) is waking up, how do I get this message out now, announcing this work, or promoting this project?
  • Asynchronous work, according to Preston W., is a simple concept: Do as much as you can with what you have, record everything, hand over the responsibility of the project to the next person, and then go on to something else.
  • Focus on iteration
    • It takes intention and effort to practice iteration. It is frequently described as the hardest value to accept. Iterating on several current projects is an excellent forcing function for ensuring an asynchronous bias.
    • The asynchronous mode works well when managing multiple concurrent projects, but requires discipline, and the ability to switch and share context.
  • Aim for progress, not perfection
    • When companies promote a culture of progress over perfection, asynchronous workflows are much easier to embrace. Move a project ahead as quickly as possible with the resources you have, and if you get stuck, try shipping what you have now through a two-way door.
    • This allows colleagues to understand where you're going and relieves them of the obligation to respond right away because some progress is better than none.
  • Celebrate incremental improvements
  • Utilize the right tools
    • When everyone in the firm agrees on how and where messages should be entered, asynchronous communication works best.
    • A common complaint in large organizations, regardless of remote access location, is the chaotic division of communications. Designs are often scattered across email, chat, text messages, unrecorded appointments, design tools, Google Docs, and more.
    • While there are a plethora of unified communication solutions available to help with this, project managers are best served by selecting a single system for sharing project progress.

Things to Avoid

  • Evaluating efficiency
    • Asynchronous communication has its limitations. Projects progress asynchronously, and solutions are documented in issues and/or pull requests, but sometimes parts of a project are best handled synchronously.
    • When team members communicate back and forth three times, the company should arrange a synchronous video conference and document outcomes.
  • Client-facing roles
    • Some roles are more tolerant of asynchrony than others. For example, a customer-related role may have specific application requirements at specific times. By applying asynchronous mode on top of these requirements, so that there is no single point of failure, teams in asynchronous organizations can self-organize and decide who will handle a given time interval.
  • Time zones
    • Asynchronous communication is a great way to reduce the pain of dispersing team members across time zones, but it is especially difficult to manage in small teams.
    • However, as the world changes as the team expands and the coverage of the mid-time increases, it becomes easier to perform manual tasks. In many ways, scaling makes timezone management easier as the differences between commands are reduced.
  • Interviewing external candidates
    • Any interview process involves some form of synchronized communication. Some teams in the company use asynchronous techniques during interviews, but this is not a standard approach for all interview processes.

Types of Work

  • Weekly announcements
    • Engineering Management produces a weekly announcement video and slides that may be viewed async by any team member at any time.
  • New team member introduction
    • New team members create a two-minute introductory video introducing themselves to the team, which they can share in Slack meetings/channels.
  • Capacity planning
  • Team members who are unable to attend sync meetings
    • Before sending out meeting invitations, meeting organizers should attach a Google Doc agenda to each one.
    • Invited team members should update the meeting agenda and questions in real-time or record a video with the material to be delivered in advance (linking the video to the agenda).
  • Quarterly team results in recaps and celebrations
    • Enterprise Marketing creates a Google Doc or Slide for team members to add results asynchronously and then shares the resulting holiday video (shared with anyone who can sync)
  • Monthly finance accruals
    • The department's direct contact (DRI) sets up a monthly personal notification to update the current Google Sheets with the latest financial receipts and notify financial partners on documents if they have any questions.
  • Alternate times for recurring scheduled meetings
    • Synchronous meetings should include everyone interested and in different time zones. For example, weekly team meetings that alternate between ideal times for EMEA and Eastern America (8 AM PT) and APAC and West America (3 PM PT).
  • Asynchronous engineering standup meetings
    • Standup meetings are typically used by engineering teams to keep all team members up-to-date on what they've been working on lately, what they're planning to do next, and if they need help. GitLab is mostly asynchronous, so it uses Slack feeds and bots like GeekBot to send information asynchronously.

Case Study

GitHub Inc

What the Company Did

  • To understand what employees are doing, GitHub built a “Team to learn what everyone is working on.
  • The company's unique setup has a nice interface for sharing code among co-workers, and strangers.
  • On pinnacle of the exceptional crew structure, GitHub additionally deviates from mainstream commercial enterprise operations in that the agency prefers textual content to voice meetings.
  • For GitHub, the mixture of Campfire, Team, and of course, GitHub for sharing code has in large part changed electronic mail at the same time as nonetheless permitting each person to speak and catch up with conversations over text.
  • GitLab found that working with a high level of transparency leads to more engaged and motivated team members.
  • For all asynchronous communication at GitHub, the firm employs its technology, GitLab.
  • GitLab is a collaboration tool designed to help people collaborate better, whether they are in the same place or in different time zones.

Drivers Behind the Change

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the remote-first world, according to Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab Inc. "People want the flexibility and autonomy that remote enables, and progressive companies realize that they can't — and shouldn't — revert to how they were functioning before,"

Success Metrics

  • GitLab uses this model extensively with remote employees in sales, engineering, marketing, HR, and executives in more than 60 countries.
  • Employee retention has also been cited as a benefit of GitLab's choice to become all-remote. They estimate that the overall benefit, combining productivity gains and property cost reductions, is $18,000 per worker per year.
Statements From Their Leadership Team
  • Through documentation and transparency, GitHub has shared proven best practices for increasing diversity and inclusion, fostering a more open community, and giving team members flexibility” according to Sid Sijbrandij, co-founder and CEO of GitLab Inc.
  • According to Zach Holman an engineer at GitHub, the text offers two main benefits which include a record of conversation and being able to editorialize your thoughts before pressing return on your keyboard.
  • According to Haack on GitHub, he uses video conferencing software called Blue Jeans to have regular one-on-one conversations with distributed teams (living around the world).

Zapier

What the Company Did

  • For everyday communication, Zapier, like many other businesses, uses Slack, team collaboration, and messaging software.
  • Because it's so loud, lengthy talks or items that require more visibility tend to be buried quickly, the company. Async has taken the place of team emails, which were designed to keep everyone informed about important matters.
  • Async is an internal tool built by Zapier. Previously, the organization utilized the WordPress P2 theme, but we found ourselves needing more.
  • Async is where we can bring back those important lost conversations in fast-paced Slack. It replaces internal email and acts as a great repository for all team members to refer to old threads.
  • Zapier manages delivery culture, weekly hangouts, monthly one-on-ones, accountability culture, building your own culture, and all processes that can be automated.

Drivers Behind the Change

  • Since its beginning in 2012, Zapier, which has created a platform utilized by millions, has been completely dispersed. Building a high-growth SaaS company without everyone working in the same office is an incredible achievement.
  • According to Zapier, three key factors are required to make remote work succeed: team, tools, and process.
  • One of the key success factors of Zapier remote work is consistency and transparency between teams.

Success Metrics

Statements From Their Leadership Team

  • According to Foster, Async has greatly improved the visibility of the team. Foster says asynchronous operations are a simple yet effective way to keep meetings productive, including proactively sharing documents and using anonymous voting to minimize decision bias.
  • Like many other teams, Zapier uses Slack for the team and one-on-one chats. Zapier team member Jason Kotenko has devised a clever way to keep up to date with everything that's happening across the various Slack channels. He created an empty channel where no discussion took place. This channel serves as a placeholder for team members away from the computer for relaxation.

Automattic

What the Company Did

  • Automattic is a global firm with over 850 employees in 74 countries. WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, Longreads, Tumblr, and other services are all powered by them. They've got plenty of experience identifying the ideal software to survive as a fully-remote corporation, having been in operation for over 15 years.
  • To promote communication and collaboration, Automattic created P2, a microblog on its platform.
  • The tool presented a few instantaneous benefits. First, P2 affords real-time updates while not having to reload the page.
  • Second, because P2 is compatible with both mobile devices and desktop computers, employees can access information from anywhere.
  • Automattic discovered that disclosing facts to everyone within the firm strengthened the organization's trusting culture.
  • Any employee, new or old, could access earlier P2 chats and add to current ones if they had something to say.
  • Making new teammates feel welcome from the start, measuring output, not input, looking to the team for feedback, asking for self-evaluations, and providing feedback often are some Automattic processes.

Drivers Behind the Change

  • "If 95% of excellent programmers aren't in the US, and an even larger percentage aren't in the Bay Area," Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg said, "build up your firm to take advantage of that reality as a strength, not a liability."
  • However, hiring from any place only works if there is a time difference.
  • The growth of the asynchronous workplace was driven further by the pandemic.

Success Metrics

  • The P2 has continued to evolve over the years and has become the backbone of Automattic's inner workings. The company currently has more than 150 internal P2 servers. This includes servers that focus on specific projects and servers dedicated to everyday jokes and cool GIFs (which can be easily embedded into pages).
  • The tool has been so successful within the company that Automattic has made it accessible to everyone. Anyone can create a blog on WordPress.com and enable P2 themes.

Statements From Their Leadership Team

Best Practice

collaborative communication

Respect

Collaborative Tools

  • Skype, Slack, and HipChat are some tools required for effective collaboration between team members
  • The firm employs video conferences and online whiteboards like Miro, Stormboard, IPEVO Annotator, Limnu, and MURAL for synchronous brainstorming, but also encourages staff to adopt asynchronous problem-solving using Slack channel threads.
  • For Kevan on Buffer, you have to rely on asynchronous text communication. His team is based around the world and there are no time slots for the entire team to come together. Instead, his team runs a weekly standup using a threaded tool.

Transparency

  • Visibility is crucial. Treehouse, Automattic, and Zapier have all stated that sharing data across teams is critical to their success.
  • Greater transparency from leadership, according to 34% of respondents, leads to a stronger sense of closeness at work, while more visibility into the work of the company, according to 38%, improves their sense of connectedness.
  • Transparency lowers the barrier to participation and facilitates cooperation, and embracing inclusion in general fosters a deeper sense of belonging.
  • GitLab has discovered that functioning with great openness results in more engaged and invested team members.

Work-life Balance

  • Working asynchronously and remotely requires setting boundaries and respecting the ones that others set, as well.
  • While it is difficult to understand or tell the state of someone's feelings that makes conversation colorful in real life, remote teams are forced to make best guesses on how teammates might be feeling from texts, emails, conference calls, and other digital communication means.
  • With asynchronous work communication, teammates are allowed to at different time zones, providing them the leverage to balance their work-life and social life.

Research Strategy

To provide the requested insights, implementation guide, case studies, and best practices for Asynchronous Work Analysis, we leveraged the most credible sources of information available in the public domain including press releases, news, companies official website, and industry sources. There was no publicly available information regarding digital agencies or development shops, our research team, therefore, expanded the scope of the research to all industries in general.

For information regarding the industry best practices, we comb through industries reports from Deloitte, McKinsey, Zapier, GitHub, and other credible sources available in the public domain. Best practices surrounding the use of asynchronous work in digital/marketing agencies were limited in the public domain, our research team broadened the scope of the research by researching all industries as available. For the best practices reported in the research, these were expert publications that appear across industries report.

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Quotes
  • "Asynchronous (async) work happens when people on the same team work during different times of the day."