The power of asynchronous communication

What we can learn from companies working in a fully remote setup for years

The shift to remote work caused by the pandemic has been one of the most profound changes in the workplace in the last decades. While for some of us this felt like an emergency landing on a different planet, others simply carried on. 

Companies like Gitlab, Automattic, and Zapier have been working in a fully remote setup for years (in some cases even forever). One thing all-remote companies rely on? Async communication.

We took a closer look at how async communication helped their teams navigate the challenges of team collaboration in a remote setting. So that one day we hopefully can all fully enjoy the benefits of working remotely!

Here are 5 reasons why async proved to be so powerful:

1. Autonomous Work Flow

When collaboration isn’t tied to a specific time and location, discussions can continue at any time of day or night. Especially for organizations operating across time zones, multiple discussions can be underway simultaneously operating 24/7 for days, weeks, or even months. Free of time constraints, team members have the autonomy to decide when they want to participate while still being mindful of deadlines. They also can determine themselves when they want to focus for long periods of uninterrupted time to produce quality work. Especially for working parents, being able to avoid a strict 9:00 to 5:00 allows for a heightened sense of work-life balance.

2. Fewer Annoyances of Sync Meetings

Sync meetings are and always have been time-consuming. Since working from home they have contributed to a new problem: Zoom fatigue. With async collaboration, everyone can contribute when it suits them. There will no longer be any timing issues, meetings running overtime, or people being late. Tech problems, such as slow internet or sharing functions not working won’t be able to slow down teamwork. Neither will last-minute cancellations. Imagine never sitting uselessly in a meeting again feeling like you’re wasting your time.

3. Encouraging Thoughtfulness

Our hyper-connected society has increased expectations to be always available. When cooperating asynchronously, it is not expected of you to be always “at your desk” and ready to immediately respond to your team members. Thoughtfulness is prioritized over urgency in async workflows. Instead of feeling the pressure to produce an immediate response, team members are given a chance to digest and think about a response before hitting send. Reactive responses are often not your best, anyways.

4. Creating a Knowledge Base

Asynchronous communication keeps an archived record of all conversations and decision-making that is automatically digitized. The documentation produced from asynchronous communication is also more efficient than in synchronous environments where notes must be created while the message is being received. While tedious and time-consuming in the short-term, the long-term benefits of documentation can be scaled as it is revisited time and time again. Because everything is documented, anyone in the company can ask to peer into meetings to gain the context needed to fulfill their role at any time.

5. Diversity & Inclusion

When communicating asynchronously, organizations are able to operate with flexibility and empower geographically dispersed teams. Want to work in a different city than the one your company is headquartered in? Go for it. When team members are able to communicate across physical and social boundaries the potential for increased diversity among teams presents itself. This means that organizations can recruit talent outside of the location of their headquarters without feeling “blocked” by physical distance. Furthermore, asynchronous communication levels the playing field e.g. by raising the voices of introverts or enabling working parents to circumvent a strict 9:00 to 5:00 schedule making the work environment more inclusive.

It’s been over 12 months since teams have been on a quest to find the right set-up and mode of collaborating. By now, we all know that remote is here to stay. Even if not all companies will be fully remote, most companies will have some sort of hybrid setup after the pandemic has ended.

Whether a team is fully remote or in a hybrid setup, the tools and systems that need to be in place don't differ much. Async collaboration has become the gold standard for remote teams and should be for hybrid teams as well. With Acapela, we’re on a mission to build the next-generation collaboration platform for remote and hybrid teams. We believe it’s finally time to end your meetings before they start! 

Pssst 🤫 You can sign up for early access here.