Building an asynchronous workflow
There are many benefits that come with building an asynchronous workflow into your business, including greater transparency and communication.
Flexible workplaces, remote teams, conflicting deadlines. Working 'asynchronously' today is not unusual.
While it produces some benefits, such as reducing distractions and team-based interruptions, it can produce its own set of problems, ranging from isolation-led procrastination to disjointed or mismanaged organisational tasks.
While the freedom to finalise our independent task list and projects in a location of our choosing is a fantastic benefit, often producing a burst of short-term productivity and allowing us to move some of those hard-to-shift tasks from our to-do list, one downside is that we can at times lose focus of the big picture. What we need to execute at an organisational level becomes lost, because, individually, we may have become disparate.
Have you experienced the sense that everyone is working on something different, but if you had an understanding of the whole it could have improved your outcomes?
Asynchronous workflow is most often associated with IT production and communications. However, as more time-based and traditional business models shift their work practices to flexible and cloud-based technologies, there is a greater need for teams and employees to collaborate with access to what they need anywhere and at any time.
Some of the benefits of building asynchronous workflow into your business and teams include:
- Transparency – connection across the company and each employee
- Communication – easy to communicate clearly and consistently and see the whole picture
- Accountability – seeing the whole picture can result in teams feeling accountable in both their work and commitment
- Reduce Empires – reduce capacity holding and silo mentality resulting in organisational-wide collaboration (so often experienced in accounting and professional service environments)
- Time Flexibility – can be more productive from anywhere in the world, including the local cafe and allow teams to work at times that suit them
Designing and deploying your own asynchronous workflow is not merely the introduction of tools and new resources. Throwing new technology alone at this shift can result in a mismatched solution comprising of a mixed bag of:
- Remote conference/video calls
- Various platforms for tracking tasks
- Bunch of other collaboration and communications tools.
All in isolation, these provide singular benefits, but the ultimate asynchronous outcome will not be achieved from technology and tools alone.
This is not just an organisational change but an individual change as well. Ultimately, your culture will be at the centre of this change. Buying the tool is the easy bit! Helping bring the people on the change, understanding and communicating the new – making them aware, understanding their desires, gauging their existing knowledge, enhancing their abilities and then constantly reinforcing the change is critical (ADKAR model to change). It’s about creating and aligning the behaviours you want and need to deploy the asynchronous workflow.
Rolling out a flexible workplace, and then having key sponsors refer to a day where a team member works flexibly as “a day off” is not aligning and reinforcing the right behaviours. Communication and reinforcements will play as big a role as the technology itself.
Of course, in a post this size, I am merely scratching at the surface of building and managing an asynchronous workflow. Hopefully, this just gets you starting to think and discussing with your teams how you could approach this differently in your own business.
Kate Blecich, co-founder, Schedullo