There are two ways to work today – synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous workflows mean that collaboration between you and your teammates is happening in real-time – whether it be a video call or an ongoing chat – you’re in an active discussion with immediate responses.
Asynchronous work, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It means that you send emails without expecting a quick response. You work on a document when it suits your schedule. You have a clear calendar so you can do deep work during your prime hours. You use voice messages instead of phone calls.
There are benefits to both models, but most people would agree that a higher percentage of your time with asynchronous work will allow you to get more work done in less time.
What do you Miss With Asynchronous Work?
There’s an old saying that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. As great as asynchronous work is, there are still downsides to it when compared to synchronous work. When you work alone at a computer, you don’t build the relationships like you do in an office or highly synchronous environments.
Have you ever been chatting with a coworker, and a solution to a problem came to you as you were chatting? In an asynchronous environment, you won’t have these opportunities to “bump into people” as you would in the office.
People are more than the work they produce, and an asynchronous environment can lead people into that mindset. It’s important to recognize that fact and focus on bridging that gap. Forward-thinking organizations will focus on building rapport and driving human connections in a way that lets you enjoy the benefits of an asynchronous work environment.
Building Rapport and Human Connections in an Asynchronous Workplace
The holy grail for organizations is to figure out how to use the best of both worlds. Asynchronous work brings a lot of benefits, but making up for the shortfalls should be a key consideration for senior leaders in every organization.
Get people talking about non-work topics and ideas
When you’re always talking about work, work will feel like work. Does your team chat tool have a water cooler/random channel? Use it to talk about the latest movies, a favorite book, or something fun you did that weekend. Everyone can join the conversation in an asynchronous way, but it lets people build bridges with their coworkers.
Have a check-in question before meetings
A well-run asynchronous environment can still have a meeting here and there. The goal is to limit the meetings to a minimum. Before a meeting, have a check-in question where everyone has to answer a question (favorite breakfast food, etc.) before the meeting can start. The answers will drive conversation and build rapport.
Even though people want to work asynchronously, they still need human connection and interaction. Open Video Meetings during the lunch hour are a great way to get people chatting and talking. Have an open calendar appointment where people can chat while they eat their lunch (let them know it’s okay to eat on camera!) and talk about anything BUT work. There doesn’t have to be an agenda, etc.
For people that know each other well, it’s a time to catch up. If you don’t know someone well, it’s a good way to meet new people in the company. If your company is growing quickly, these lunch meetings can be extremely beneficial to driving culture
Summary on Building Human Connections in Asynchronous Environments
Intentionality is key when it comes to building human connections and rapport in asynchronous environments. It’s really easy to get stuck in your silo and only focus on your work. What you’re missing out on is the benefits of collaboration and connection with your teammates. Just because you like to work asynchronously doesn’t mean that you cant work well with your teammates. Getting people connected makes remote work – work.
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