Asynchronous Meetings

The Pros, Cons, and 5 Tips to Effectively Run Them

Asynchronous Meetings

Did you know – by April 2020, 300 million people logged into Zoom daily for their meetings? Yes, it was due to the sudden imposition of work from home as the COVID-19 pandemic surged. 300 million is a lot of people attending meetings throughout the day. But how many of these meetings are actually fruitful? Researchers from the University of North Carolina have the answer: 70% of all meetings are unproductive. The key to fully utilizing the potential of remote work and today’s digital space is to maneuver between synchronous and asynchronous meetings.

All of us are familiar with synchronous meetings. It’s the face-to-face interaction or virtual communication through video conferencing between team members. Synchronous meetings are essential when the subject at hand is urgent and requires an immediate response. On the other hand, an asynchronous meeting is for all the times you want to enhance your productivity while efficiently communicating with the team and carrying out tasks at your own pace.

Asynchronous Meeting - What is That?

Not every discussion is urgent. Research shows that experiencing frequent unproductive meetings can lead to general dissatisfaction with the job. Asynchronous meetings can prove helpful in avoiding this situation.

In asynchronous meetings, teams communicate through messages that needn’t be responded to in real-time. Your team members can focus on their work, then review and respond to your messages when their schedule allows.

Async meeting adds flexibility to the team, enhances productivity, saves time, and avoids continuous distractions by meeting notifications. Its incorporation can definitely save most of the 31 hours that companies usually spend on unproductive meetings in a month.

In today's workspaces, digital connectivity is the key to successful coordination and collaboration. It’s easy to communicate and even work on projects digitally with the whole team. Common ways of managing asynchronous communication are mail threads, shared documents, digital whiteboards, messaging tools, and video recording equipment.

With widespread technological advancements, spending excessive time and resources on face-to-face meetings for briefs and updates may sound unnecessary. To further encourage efficiency and facilitate remote work, enterprises need to be familiar with effective async meeting strategies.

Why Every Team Needs Asynchronous Meetings?

No change is easy. Implementing an enterprise-wide asynchronous meeting strategy requires strong consideration. But as we go through the benefits of asynchronous communication, it will be apparent how async meetings can be beneficial for companies of all scales.

  1. Boosts productivity

Every team member has a unique workflow. They may not be physically or mentally available in all the meetings. A study suggests that 91% of employees daydream during meetings.

Async meetings allow every team member to get to action whenever they’re ready, thus boosting productivity. Documentation also gets easy with effective async meetings, and employees spend less time reviewing past discussions.

  1. Offers more autonomy

When Airbnb announced full-time remote work opportunities, over 800,000 people visited their career page within a few days. This announcement is the first step toward the future of enterprises where remote work will be vital.

Companies have now begun measuring results and not work hours. People can choose to work while traveling or with other engagements, as long as their performance is not hampered. Asynchronous meetings are a building block of this futuristic work infrastructure that empowers remote work and gives more agency to the employees.

  1. Encourages mental well-being

The web of technology is getting more intricate with each passing day. Over 90% of employees experience stress and anxiety in their workplace due to hyper-connected technology. Asynchronous meetings allow team members to set their boundaries and establish a healthy work-life balance, thus improving their overall mental wellness.

  1. Quick knowledge sharing

As async meetings rely heavily on the documented word, sharing the details with teammates gets easier. Detailed notes make the context clear and leave no room for misinterpretation. These documents and meeting notes can further guide new employees without wasting much time and resources on knowledge sharing.

Source: Screenshot by the author

  1. Facilitates deep thinking

Effective async meetings come with the need for intensive planning and practical scheduling. Employees can carefully block their calendars for different tasks and spare time for themselves. They can schedule two asynchronous meetings with as much gap as they need to process the tasks and engage in deep thinking and discussions.

  1. Inclusive work environment

Synchronous meetings may not be favorable to all employees. The introverts who never share their insights with the team can start collaborating more with asynchronous meetings. It also creates a smooth experience for team members working from different time zones, without letting one sacrifice their sleep over the other.

Asynchronous Meetings are Not The Ultimate Solution

By now, you must be eager to try out asynchronous meeting strategies with your team. But you must have a glance at the limitations, first.

  1. Lag in response

As mentioned before, async meetings are not famous for instant responses. They're designed to facilitate remote work and enhance productivity so that team members can focus on one thing at a time.

However, there can be situations when a meeting requires urgent action. Integrating Loopin with your existing mail and calendar can be helpful, as it can send meeting notifications on whichever tab you're on. Even if it is an asynchronous meeting, you can send out a reminder notification to your team, and they can get back to you on a priority basis.

Source: Downloaded by the author from Chrome Store

  1. No face-to-face interaction

Asynchronous meetings don’t facilitate face-to-face, back-and-forth communication, removing the expectations of instant response. But synchronous meetings also don’t ensure team-building as employees end up spending the majority of the day in meetings.

To solve the need for interactions, companies can encourage team-building exercises and take steps for an inclusive employee onboarding process.

Strategies to Run Effective Asynchronous Meetings

To run successful async meetings as a part of your workflow, the following strategies can help:

  1. Plan ahead of the meeting

Asynchronous meetings require careful planning. Here’s a step-by-step process that might come in handy:

  • Begin with choosing the participants to attend the meeting.
  • Map out your meeting agenda.
  • Let participants go through the discussion points beforehand.
  • You can share this agenda using apps like Loopin.
  • Instead of hosting a meeting for project updates, you can use the meeting notes feature for Loopin for status updates and discussions.

  1. Document meeting agenda and progress

Reduce your cognitive load and keep all your meeting notes, important decisions, and ideas in one place with vital Google Chrome extensions like Loopin. You can integrate it with other tools like Notion to create detailed reports, add context, and allow your teammates to give their inputs and comments. These documents can come in handy for training your future employees, too.

  1. Schedule async meetings and response time from teammates

Use an efficient calendar to block the time for tasks and schedule meetings. Make it mandatory for all participants to respond. Then, set a deadline for the team members to review the agenda and add their inputs. Loopin can come in handy for blocking the calendar and offering easy access to meeting notes.

Source: Downloaded by the author from Chrome Store

  1. Educate teammates on the async meeting strategies that work for you

One of the most effective tips for running an async meeting is by educating your team members about its benefits. Present the concept of asynchronous meetings as regular meetings without any hassles from the comfort of remote work at your preferred time.

Async meetings can work well for your team if you have some remote work tools in place. Train your employees to use critical tools like Loopin, Trello, Asana, Slack, etc., and start your growth journey with asynchronous meetings.

  1. Clearly communicate the meeting goal

Communication is the goal of asynchronous meetings, and it can be achieved through various media formats. Some tools that might come in handy in this aspect are:

Keep the asynchronous meeting format for announcements, brainstorming sessions, follow-ups, feedback, and external meetings, and boost the productivity of your team.

Wrapping Up: The 5 Strategies for Effective Async Meetings

20% of people struggle with collaboration and communication, as per the 2020 State of Remote Work by Buffer. To bridge this gap and create an inclusive workspace, asynchronous meetings seem to be one of the best productivity hacks.

Here are the five tips to get the most out of your asynchronous meeting and enjoy hassle-free collaborative work:

  1. Plan ahead of the meeting
  2. Document meeting agenda and progress
  3. Schedule async meetings and response time from teammates
  4. Educate teammates on the async meeting strategies that work for you
  5. Clearly communicate the meeting goal

Which of these tips resonated the most with you? Do share your thoughts in the comments, and if you have any team-building tactic that works, leave your insights below.

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