Best Practices for Communicating Asynchronously - Deepstash

Best Practices for Communicating Asynchronously

  1. Allow Offline work, so that team members do some real work.
  2. Use the right communication tool.
  3. Minimize status meetings, as they are mostly a waste of time.
  4. Make Transparency the default setting.
  5. Overcommunicate to make sure all the pieces of information are in place and known to all.
  6. Adapt, as you grow in scale, as what is working for 5 people won’t work for 500.

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Open channels of communication are imperative in managing remote work. Effective communication is the single most important part of handling a remote setting, and is also the most challenging.

Use your favourite software, like Slack or Microsoft Teams and ensure that everyone adheres to the same.

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If there is no response to a request, it is crucial to figure out if everything is ok, after a stipulated amount of time( according to the urgency of the task). Many people can feel isolated and as monotony sets in, some can withdraw or stop contributing.

Regular interaction can minimize the ‘no response’ problem. Setting up partners to look after each other for a project completion is also a great way to ensure productivity.

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A Central Management Tool

Physical presence does play a large part in moving our projects forward. Managing a project remotely requires a diligent and transparent approach to keep track and maintain the various tasks, deadlines and processes.

It's important to deploy a project management tool, assigning each different task to all the team members. Have regular check-ins and status update meetings. Having a singular place for distributing information ensures that team members do not complain that they were not updated or didn’t know where the specific file was.

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Asynchronous communication happens when you are not forced to respond to each and every ‘ping’ in real time. Its benefits:

  • Communication becomes less ‘urgent’. It makes for less firefighting and more ‘deep work'.
  • Conversations are meaningful and are not ‘hurried’.
  • Quick movement of teams.
  • More transparency.
  • Less work stress.

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Even if the team is small, document, formalize and map each process, making it scalable and automatic.

Standard Operating Procedures, if used correctly in a remote setting, can act like a central nervous system.

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Multiple complex projects require juggling of conflicting priorities, making it a challenge to meet deadlines, and separating urgent work from important work.

The way to look at priorities is to step back and see a birds eye view of the overall objective that is to be achieved. Add resources or delegate as needed.

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Trusting your remote coworkers is the only way for it to succeed. Trust the employees and use empathy. Do not assume the worst.

To avoid any communication breakdown, always overcommunicate and ensure questions are asked and answered.

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Creating accountability is a great way to manage the work remotely. Accountability is shifted to the teammates, who are now supposed to be responsible for their own work and decisions.

One way to build accountability in remote teams is to assign groups and let teammates hold each other responsible. Also make teammates share their work experience and any issues they face, publicly (within the team) so that it acts as a ready solution for others, reducing repeat work.

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The challenges of hybrid teams

Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.

For example, in hybrid teams, remote employees are often left in the dark. Office workers are often heard, recognized, and promoted, while remote workers are forgotten.

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Argument against remote work

The argument is that while remote employees may be more personally productive, the team creativity and innovation suffer. People really need spontaneous interactions at the water cooler or break room or at happy hours to foster serendipity that drives innovation.

People who support the Office-Serendipity Theory of Innovation like to cite Jobs' views to support the idea that "most people should work in an office." But the theory suffers from anecdotal evidence of chance office encounters.

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There are mainly two ways to communicate within a company: synchronous and asynchronous communication. While the second type has always been widely practiced, as face-to-face meetings or any other in-person communication, the second type is just slowly being discovered. 

In fact, asynchronous communication enables team members to respond to their colleagues whenever they can, without putting pressure on them that the answer should be provided immediately.

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