Time travel | Will asynchronous working really give you a competitive edge?

Will asynchronous working really give you a competitive edge?

Deep Dive

The duelling factions of “bums back in seats” and “trust your people” have been at it for nearly two years now. Thankfully, the latter camp is coming up trumps, because the numbers don’t lie…

In fact, the numbers are so convincing that even frontline industries are learning where automation and literal remote control can help ease the crunch and improve workloads. But now, there’s a new cowboy in town – and if you thought the showdown at the Remote Working Corral was tense, wait till you hear about the latest fad in treating employees as autonomous adults…

What is asynchronous working?

The simplest explanation is from Preston Wickersham, who writes for HR firm Remote, “Asynchronous work is a simple concept: do as much as you can with what you have, document everything, transfer ownership of the project to the next person, then start working on something else."

As a work style, it’s similar to a project-first approach, but with core project management methods in place that allow everyone on the project (integral and tangential) to work with the most freedom and flexibility possible.

Helen Kupp, Product & Strategy Leader at Slack’s Future Forum, told Forbes: “For many people, 9-to-5 workdays, regular meetings, and ‘always on’ interactions were never the right work environment. It resulted in burnout among women with children, barriers to advancement among underrepresented employees, and other issues.

“Asynchronous communication and work put individuals back in the driver seat — in control of when to engage and when to instead carve out time for deep focus work. That balance is the key to productivity…and allows us to tailor work to each individual's optimal work situation and unlock their productivity.”

And with 73% of workers citing either “work hours flexibility or less time commuting” as their number one reason for increased productivity [Gartner, 2021], async looks likely to offer a much happier and more efficient workforce.

In fact, recent data from freelance talent firm Hoxby showed that the company’s approach to work (project-based, asynchronous) has not only resulted in a happier workforce, but a more productive one, with 81% relaying an increase in autonomy, 79% in productivity, 78% in increased wellbeing and 76% reporting an increased feeling of engagement.

“From the outside, async working could look very cold and disconnected, almost as if the teams are working totally independently”

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