Flexible work has become a popular trend as more companies restructure to accommodate the model — research shows that a lot of companies are in the process of redesigning their office space to accommodate hybrid work.
According to a survey, remote workers save at least 2 hours per day thanks to reduced in-person meetings and commutes. A large portion of workers want flexible work options to stay, and a global survey revealed that more than half of employees would leave their job if they were denied flexibility at work after the Covid-19 pandemic.
While most employees prefer flexible work options to stay, others want more in-person collaboration. Here we discuss asynchronous and synchronous work, and the benefits and downsides of each.
In an asynchronous (async) work model, employees complete their assigned work on their schedule, working from different locations and time zones. The team has the freedom to choose a flexible work schedule and perform their tasks when they are most productive — as long as they finish their work.
You need to adopt asynchronous communication tools for this model, since employees are available at different times of the day. The communication may be done through tools or platforms such as email, project management software, messaging via Teams or Slack, collaboration tools like G Suite, etc.
It's advisable to have a clear policy detailing the preferred collaboration methods for effective communication. For example, you could designate email for general communications, voice messages for delivering complex information, project management software and G Suite for sharing documents and project updates, and so forth.
Asynchronous collaboration is ideal when your team works from different geographical regions. It allows employees to maintain what they consider a regular work schedule without the inconvenience of crashing time zones.
A synchronous team works in collaboration at the same time, usually in-person or sometimes remotely. The team follows a standard schedule to execute their assigned duties and tasks during the same hours — most organizations have synchronous teams that clock in and leave at standard times. While these teams may utilize virtual communication tools such as email or private messaging, they also conduct frequent synchronous meetings in-person at an office.
If the team is working remotely, synchronous collaboration is enabled by real-time communication solutions like video conferencing tools (Zoom, Google Meet), phone calls, email, direct message, etc. Though emailing and messaging are also used asynchronously, the recipients are expected to provide immediate feedback in synchronous collaboration.
Even if your work arrangement is async-first, you might require synchronous collaboration sometimes — for example, if you have a complex project that requires a 1-on-1 virtual briefing to clarify the details and answer the team's questions. If you have chosen an async collaboration model, however, you should keep synchronous communication at a minimum and only use it when it's really necessary.
Running an asynchronous team is the future of work, but it has its advantages and disadvantages. If your work demands asynchronous collaboration, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the pros and cons so you can decide which one is right for you.
Despite the growing popularity of the async work model, many people still prefer synchronous collaboration. Let's look at some of the pros and cons.
In short, asynchronous work (async work) holds the idea that not everyone does their best work during the same hours of the workday. As long as outputs are being met and everyone has access to the information they need, teams are more agile and productive.
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