From Sync To Async : A Paradigm Shift
Think back to a time when workdays began at daybreak, with employees gearing up to face the day ahead. They would dress professionally, commute to work, and prepare for a day of productivity. Working hours would unfold in a sequence of tasks, punctuated by breaks for lunch, coffee, and a chat with a favorite colleague. The team would move in unison, seamlessly navigating the shared spaces of the workplace. This model of completing tasks in a sequential order & having real-time communication is commonly known as synchronous work. However, as times change, so do work habits, leading to a shift towards asynchronous work.
Conversely, async work operates on a model that allows employees to engage with tasks at their own pace, regardless of others’ schedules. It emphasizes communication that is not confined to real-time interactions. Initially, many employers preferred synchronous work, but the pandemic proved that remote work can be effective using asynchronous methods. Nevertheless, this does not mean that synchronous work is no longer relevant or efficient. It is vital to assess the pros and cons of both models to formulate a strategy that maximizes their advantages. Sync and async work when combined, can help in achieving optimal results, in turn cultivating a thriving culture.
Balancing Synchronous & Asynchronous work :
1. Knowing the strengths of both:
With today’s organizations tackling unprecedented challenges, it is crucial that employers cultivate strategic and strength-based thinking among their employees. But without a clear understanding of one’s individual strengths & limitations and how well they fit with both work methods, employees may struggle to collaborate effectively to optimize their contributions to the organization’s success.
By conducting assessments such as Clifton’s Strengths Finder organizations can tap into the unique strengths of their teams that are compatible with both synchronous and asynchronous work styles. This approach can lead to a more efficient and effective work environment, where employees are able to collaborate in a way that best suits the situation at hand. By recognizing their strengths and adapting to their unique work styles, organizations can create a workforce that is well-equipped to thrive in any mode.
2. Accountable Actions :
In an asynchronous workforce, creating clarity requires more than just following procedures. It requires cultivating a proactive attitude that fosters accountability. To achieve this, organizations can start by setting clear goals, expectations, and deliverables, ensuring a shared understanding of what needs to be accomplished. One way to do this is by identifying focus areas in the performance management process and conducting quarterly workshops to establish priorities.
Organizing quarterly workshops enables employers to evaluate where an employee excels, whether they fit into the asynchronous work or not, and identifies areas for improvement. Quarterly reviews prompt them to reassess their current approaches and make necessary adjustments to align with the goals and objectives of the organization. Additionally, it allows employers to provide feedback to address any behavioral issues, leading to a relaxed shift in the workstyle. By cultivating a culture of accountability, employers make their employees commit to delivering on their responsibilities, whether asynchronously or synchronously.
3. Bridging the Tele-Communication Gap :
Async communication, while beneficial for work-related discussions, may create a sense of disconnection when it comes to addressing emotional needs & building relationships. Waiting for a response the next day, after one has already recovered from a difficult situation may not provide the needed support. To foster strong team relationships, organizations can encourage informal synchronous interactions.
This can be achieved by allocating time slots for team-building activities, real-time interactions, & open discussions that go beyond formal meetings. These types of activities enable employees to deepen their understanding of one another, fostering strong workplace bonds that empower them to excel in their work regardless of their style. This in turn not only creates a cohesive culture but makes the workforce excited and comfortable for both asynchronous and synchronous work.
4. Automated Feedback :
Asynchronous work offers flexibility and numerous benefits, allowing employees to work at their own pace. However, challenges can arise when it comes to real-time recognition, appreciation, and feedback. Due to the time delay inherent in workstyle, dedicated feedback becomes difficult to provide. To address this challenge, organizations need to innovate new strategies to ensure a smooth adaptation process for employees.
One such strategy is the integration of AI and automation into the feedback process. This enables team members to share feedback at their convenience while ensuring that the receiver receives it at their designated time. Additionally, the feedback remains accessible throughout the individual’s work life, allowing them to revisit it whenever needed. With the fusion of synchronous annual award and recognition ceremonies and automated feedback, employers can cater to the diverse work styles within the organization.
5. The Power of Choice :
Today, organizations recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach stifles creativity & limits productivity. Research shows that over 90% of employees yearn for flexibility in determining when they work. To adapt to this landscape, employers need to empower their employees with the power of autonomy, offering freedom to choose the most suitable mode of work for their tasks.
It allows team members to dive into complex projects, without constant interruptions or time constraints. Every project possesses its unique characteristics & needs, as some require real-time collaboration & some can be tackled asynchronously. Autonomy lets employees assess and comprehend the significance of different methods, enabling them to make informed decisions and choose the approach that best suits their needs. This leads to employees optimizing overall productivity and the quality of their outputs. In turn, resulting in a thoughtful interplay between sync & async modes of work striking a harmonious balance.
Embrace the Workforce 2.0
With the ongoing debate between synchronous and asynchronous work, it is important to recognize that both approaches have their merits. The key lies in organizations finding the right balance between these two that aligns with their shared personality and the nature of work. However, simply knowing and comprehending the fundamentals of What, How, and Why to shift are not sufficient. The challenge for organizations lies in instilling these concepts into the psyche of their employees.
Stepping out of their comfort zones to embrace a transparent and open mode of operation can be challenging for employees at first. By implementing designated strategies and new habits, they can proactively address and overcome these obstacles. By recognizing the human element of this transition – their employees, organizations can better navigate the shift towards a more flexible and collaborative way of working no matter what time zone or location they are in. So, let us embrace this paradigm shift with an open mind and an unwavering spirit of collaboration.