25. November 2022

Best practices to foster effective async collaboration

When working in a team which has a remote first / hybrid setup, always in sync communication and collaboration becomes almost impossible. At the very least, always in sync culture takes a toll on the efficiency and well being of your team. Fostering a culture of async collaboration can not only make your teams function at a higher level of productivity but also make your team members generally happier. In this post we will share some best practices when it comes to implementing and embracing a culture of async collaboration.

Let's start with the why; this article from Forbes suggests that heavy dependence on synchronous collaboration and communication is a by-product of lack of appropriate culture and structure. It further describes certain key problems with always in sync collaboration:

  1. Individual efficiencies go down, because the maximum amount of time during the work day is dedicated towards meeting and discussions.
  2. Fatigue and burnout of team members due to long hours that have to be spent in attending meetings from different time zones.
  3. Under representation of thoughts and ideas of people with introverted personalities, team members caring for children, and employees with a minority cultural background.

There are three key pillars to implementing an effective async collaboration in your organization. Each one of them has their own set of best practices. Here they are:

1. Culture

The key cultural element to fostering effective async collaboration is understanding which type of communication requires immediate input and which are the things that can be worked at in peoples’ own time. This of course is easier said than done; it requires clear understanding in each individuals’ mind about shared priorities and overall vision of their company. This starts top down, leaders at every level have to create this shared understanding amongst their teams and peers. Leaders should encourage people to adhere to async work wherever possible; the best way is to include this into your company’s people focused values, as this requires a certain level of empathy towards your colleagues.

2. Processes

Culture alone is not enough to foster effective asynchronous collaborations. Teams need to establish clear processes around synchronous vs asynchronous. There are certain things that are best done in sync, for example: performance reviews, critical decision taking, firefighting burning issues etc. While there are other things that can be done asynchronously, for example: status updates, brainstorming ideas etc. Teams should lay out clear processes (which are easy to follow for every one) around which use cases require in sync discussions - everything else should be done asynchronously. The key here is to experiment and iterate; every team is different and it's very important to establish processes that are tried, tested and proven.

3. Tools

Once you have established a culture of asynchronous collaboration and have laid out the processes needed to foster it, it is quintessential to complement the two with the right tools for your team. As we explained in our last post, there are a plethora of tools out there that can be used for collaboration, each having its own pros and cons. The key here is to understand which one works best for your teams, and can truly deliver the asynchronous culture and processes.

Imaranda is a tool that is designed to deliver the asynchronous experience that your teams have been missing, if you are interested in exploring how Imaranda is different and how it makes your teams more efficient and happy, follow us on LinkedIn, and just drop an email at: info@imaranda.com