Dispersed processes are necessary for distributed teams. Older systems make it impossible for employees to collaborate when they no longer share an office. A change in operations must coincide with a change in the environment.
How does that alteration appear? To optimize efficiency and productivity in a remote work setting, it is necessary to reconsider the antiquated requirement that workers report for duty and leave at the same time. If the previous method of doing things was synchronous, meaning it happened in one location at one time, then work in the present and the future will be asynchronous, meaning it will happen everywhere at all times.
The evidence supports the requirement for an asynchronous shift. According to the Remote Workforce Report 2023, 44% of businesses are currently hiring more people from outside their country, which entails more people collaborating across time zones.
Employers who hire people from other countries benefit from increased productivity, cost-effective teams, and higher retention rates, but these advantages come at a price. Organizations face new difficulties with process management and internal communications when they hire employees in new locations. This is the result of the need to onboard foreign workers surpassing the capacity of the support systems in place for those workers.
Work done asynchronously is the answer. Using async principles, Remote, which employs over 1,000 people in 70 countries, has created a highly productive, fully remote organization. Working asynchronously is not only possible but preferred in a world where teams consist of people from all over the world, as our company is live proof of. In this article, we’ll define asynchronous work, go over how to organize async process management, and discuss how to get the most out of a distributed workforce in terms of productivity and efficiency.
- What is asynchronous work?
- What distinguishes synchronous work from asynchronous work?
- How to oversee asynchronous processes
What is asynchronous work?
The term “asynchronous” work, also known as “async work,” describes teamwork where participants are not required to be online at the same time. Teams that operate asynchronously allow individuals to work at their highest efficiency without having to wait for others to finish tasks. The secret to asynchronous work is developing procedures that let staff members operate independently and giving them the confidence they need to do so.
A pipeline that is steady, quick, and agile generates precisely the right amount of output for its needs. Each step of the pipeline is balanced between speed and efficiency, so no time or resources are wasted. The Toyota Production System 3Ms methodology served as inspiration for this; read more about it here.
Workers can arrange the sequence in which tasks are completed using async to fit their own schedules. Since instantaneous communication is not expected in asynchronous work, employees can adjust their workflow to ease the burden on both themselves and their coworkers. Three fundamental principles underpin asynchronous work: multiplexing, communication, and action.
What distinguishes synchronous work from asynchronous work?
By separating work from synchronous communication, asynchronous work maximizes output. Because synchronous work requires teams to communicate in real time, it prevents projects from moving forward when team members are unavailable because of differing work schedules or vacation time.
- Employees can work asynchronously without needing to be online at the same time.
- Asynchronous work is more dependent on transparency and documentation.
- Because synchronous work creates artificial barriers to productivity, it slows down projects.
- Although it is more common in office settings than in remote work structures, synchronous work is still not ideal in those settings.
- Employee performance is more trusted when work is done asynchronously.
When compared to synchronous work, asynchronous work shows enormous benefits in terms of outcomes. Businesses that use async working can advance projects far faster than their rivals. Furthermore, companies that implement async workflows typically see an increase in employee morale because of the increased trust and communication and documentation practices that come with an async approach.
How to oversee asynchronous processes
Companies must reconsider how they define employee trust and productivity in order to effectively manage async workflows. Thus, multiplexing, communication, and action are the three fundamental principles that underpin async work.
Humans live in a synchronous universe where time is of the essence and we advance one second at a time. But the way we go about things (or put things together) has a ridiculously big influence on how our pipeline turns out. The key is to plan ahead.
Coordinated work scheduling
Conventional (synchronous) planning is based on starting large-scale. It’s not a bad thing to do on its own. Still, a system can only function as slowly as its slowest component. In this scenario, any delay will spread throughout the pipeline because every stage is totally dependent on the step before it.
A software development pipeline with three terminals and synchronized planning is depicted in this image. We must finish tasks A, B, and C before we can deploy a feature. We will need a cycle of 9 work hours for each deployment due to the way these tasks were scheduled and divided. As we can only deploy this infrequently, it is excellent for atomic tasks but very slow otherwise.
Work planning that is asynchronous
The foundation of async planning is the maximization of task splitting into smaller units and the frequent release of Minimum Viable Changes (MVCs). This method is predicated on the idea that shipping less but more frequently enables you to gauge success and quickly address any unfavorable feedback. Because of their smaller size, it also enables more precise control over the distribution of resources, enabling us to complete more tasks in the same amount of time.
By dividing Tasks A, B, and C into (A1, A2, A3, B1, etc.) in this example representation, we were able to accomplish three times as many deploys as we had in the preceding example (M1). In this case, we might have the same amount of features deployed after the nine hours. But by using async task distribution to multiplex our tasks, we were able to release portions of our work, allowing us to verify their impact and either reverse or reevaluate our course of action. The iteration time has been trimmed down to one-third of the initial schedule.
We can multiplex tasks using this methodology, combining them to generate results more quickly.
Effective communication is critical to any system’s success, whether it be machine or human.
Communication can take many forms: text, voice, video, email, or even a simple “let’s go grab coffee.” Selecting the appropriate channel is just as crucial to the production pipeline as any other task we can complete because each one has a unique effect on productivity.
Synchronous communication: what is it?
We are more likely to use synchronous communication since it is simpler and more cozy in certain aspects.
Usually, a conversation needs to involve two or more people. There are several ways to have an active conversation:
- A gathering
- A voice and video call
- Purchasing coffee
- Having a conversation at lunch
- Sending a message and anticipating a prompt reply
These are all excellent choices for tasks that cannot be completed in any other manner or are extremely difficult to complete asynchronously. For instance, one-on-one meetings, strategy talks, interviews, and performance reviews.
Most meetings can be replaced with well-written emails, messages, or documentation. Use meetings wisely because they are the most expensive tool available to your business.
Example 3 shows two developers at work who must finish a set of tasks (A, B, and C) before deploying:
This scenario, which occurs frequently, involves a meeting concerning a technological requirement that keeps both developers busy for a set period of time. Shortly thereafter, there is a call regarding what should be done next.
Without a doubt, this is not the ideal application for sync communication. All work was delayed and no deployment was completed due to the disruptions. When we consider our pipeline’s efficiency, it was definitely uneven and not at all quick.
Asynchronous communication: what is it?
The ability to communicate asynchronously fosters autonomy. Its main goal is to ensure that an action and its results are unaffected by the person who planned or carried it out.
Asynchronous communication introduces or upholds a number of long-desired best practices, including:
- Well-written records
- written policies
- Texting while on the phone
- courtesy for uninterrupted work periods
Example 4: The two individuals (as in example 3) create a set of tasks but communicate asynchronously.
In this instance, correspondence and well-written documentation are used for communication. In these situations, the impact on the workflow is minimal and frequently results in more execution, even though the message exchange’s ultimate goal is dispersed over time.
Why go with an asynchronous workflow?
As the following image shows, humans struggle to switch from fully focused on task A to fully focused on task B without losing any ground. For instance, when something interrupts you while you’re immersed in a book. Resuming your reading of the book will take some time.
A time-based chart with Time and Productivity as the axes is shown in Example 5.
This example shows the timeline of a backend developer who is twice interrupted: once by a frontend developer regarding an API request’s payload, and again by a new team member regarding the local setup of the project’s database.
After concentrating on the current task for a while (1), the backend developer moved into a focused state (2). We want to make the most of this (2) and use our incredibly creative and capable minds to their fullest. The developer then takes a little while to respond to the frontend developer’s question (3) before returning to task (1). Regretfully, a new disruption happens just as the developer was beginning to concentrate once more (2) (3).
I’m sure you’re already quite familiar with this if you’ve read this far.
The final piece of the puzzle is the idea of “flow” (2). The definition from Wikipedia (more here):
- Within the field of positive psychology, a state of flow, commonly referred to as being “in the zone,” is the mental state in which an individual is totally absorbed in their task. While engaging in the activity, the person feels energized, fully involved, and enjoying themselves. Essentially, flow is defined as total immersion in one’s work and a consequent loss of sense of time and space.
- If maintaining complete focus can be challenging, entering the flow can be even more so. Your chances of entering the flow increase with sustained focus. Nonetheless, flow is out of the question if you struggle with maintaining focus.
- Here is where async communication really shines because it protects everyone’s time and attention while cutting down on pointless distractions. These kinds of disruptions are less common when communicating async. Additionally, your chances of entering the flow are much higher the longer you are able to immerse yourself in deep work.
In the event of asynchronous working, always default to action
This is the final principle of async programming. It is attitude, not process, that matters. It’s about having concern for your professional development and future goals.
Many times, tasks aren’t planned, decision-makers aren’t online, or the work isn’t prepared for us to start. Successful teams in these situations act quickly, even if they must later refine and adjust; they don’t waste time “waiting.”
The phrase “Always default to action” is one that we at Remote often repeat. This implies that you should use common sense and solve problems on your own if you need to do something and no one is around to assist you or advise you on what to do next.
Let’s say there are three tasks, but only two of them have a detailed description. In this case, you will have to wait for a product manager to arrive before defining the exact requirements.
Example 6 illustrates this by using Dev 1 as an example, who defaults to action, and Dev 2, who defaults to waiting.
Even though it’s not as critical as the task he was hoping to complete, Dev 1 will pick up something else in what we just defined as “always default to take action.” But Dev 2 decided to wait to describe the task until the PM could help.
I wish I could say that this anecdotal example is exaggerated, but it isn’t. It is extremely typical.
It’s preferable to take care of yourself during remote work if you truly need assistance with your next assignment and are unable to pick up anything else. Alternatively, you could take your dog for a walk, hit the gym, or binge-watch your favorite show—yes, even if it falls during the middle of the workday.
Naturally, this suggests a little bit more discernment. Certain tasks are extremely delicate, so if you’re unsure about them, you can choose an alternative. It’s about taking control in a measured manner, not about ignoring risk.
Gaining proficiency in asynchronous work is necessary for productive cooperation in distant settings. To guarantee continued success and productivity in asynchronous work environments, make use of the techniques and resources provided in our guide.
Moreover, if you are looking for a company through which you can hire dedicated DevOps developers, then you should check out Appic Softwares. We have pre-vetted developers that can help you gain the most out of your software. So, what are you waiting for?