Asynchronous work and how it can help you get better results
A few months ago, when I started working on a different time zone than my colleagues, my biggest fear was that I would be too disconnected from the team and their daily discussions. I started by waking up very early so I can work at the same time as them with the only notable result that I could not concentrate very well, my brain being busy to stay awake at 2 o’clock in the morning.
Gradually I switched to a more normal schedule, even if that means starting to work when the rest of the team is finishing the work day. I didn’t know what it was like to work asynchronously, but I immediately noticed some new benefits.
The first is that I suddenly was in charge of my own time. Instead of splitting my attention between various online calls and interrupting myself every 5 minutes to check my emails and prioritize small things, I can focus on what needs to be delivered that day. I start by checking my emails and answering important ones, then I organize my work day so that I can focus on my tasks.
The surprise was to find that much of the hustle and bustle of a day’s work is like a storm in a glass of water. Instead of helping you reach your destination, it rather frustrates the journey. And the reality is that you don’t have to wait for an ok or a confirmation in order to do your job well.
Another good thing is that I can focus better on what I have to do. Because I know that there is no one to respond to my emails immediately, the feeling of urgency disappears and I can put things in perspective, by giving priority to important things.
When you work asynchronously, you don’t have to stop working to expect for clarifications, approval, or other materials from others. It involves a change in your workflow, but also a level of personal autonomy and decentralization in the company. If at every step you have to expect an OK from someone, it is more difficult to work asynchronously.
Sometimes we like to approach one task at a time until it’s completed, even if it means involving others to get the information we need. When you work asynchronously, you have to work on one task, ask others for the information you are missing and move on to another task while you wait to receive an answer for the first one.
Why is it great to try asynchronous work? Because we are working more and more remotely and synchronous communication requires too much energy and too much time. Because we are more efficient when working asynchronously and we gain time to think about new things. But also because a team becomes more mature when communicates asynchronously, with more respect for the personal time of each other, regardless of the time zone they work on.