Zoom fatigue: We know it. We live it. We generally hate it.
With more than a year of remote work (and the video calls that come with it), all of us are riding on an emotional pendulum of feeling overwhelmed, then complacent, and overwhelmed again.
To make matters worse, back-to-back calls can make it difficult to manage your time to do, like, real work.
So how do we get off the pendulum and get back to managing our time well so we can be our best productive selves?
Well… we can’t tell you to get rid of video calls entirely—you’ll still need them for some things like brainstorming and problem solving—but you can have fewer of them.
Don’t just take our word for it. Meet four entirely remote companies that are managing their time (and remote team members) while being more productive thanks to two words: Asynchronous Communication.
Is it a mouthful to say? Sure. But trust me, it’s worth it.
What is asynchronous communication?
Before we answer that, let’s talk about synchronous communication. Synchronous communication is when you’re expected to always be “on” and ready to answer someone.
Why it hurts:
- You feel chained to Zoom or Slack.
- You’re constantly being virtually tapped on the shoulder, causing you to multitask.
- When you respond to people on the fly, you might say things that aren’t so thought out or thoughtful.
- You might have had good time management skills, but now you’re less productive.
Asynchronous communication is the opposite. It allows individuals to communicate but doesn’t require the need to reply instantly.
Benefits of asynchronous communication:
- You’re free to unplug when you need to focus on work or yourself.
- You can unitask and experience flow — when you’re absorbed by your work and riding on the high of it.
- You aren’t expected to have split-second answers, giving you time to think through more nuanced responses.
- You’re in better control of your time and therefore can be more productive.
Sounds amazing, I know. But is it realistic? You bet your asynchronous mindset it is!
4 remote companies’ secrets to using asynchronous communication
Before most companies scrambled to figure out how a team communicates remotely, there were others who had already mastered distributed teams and video conferencing. Since they’d been remote-first for quite some time, they’ve got serious wisdom for the rest of us as we try to catch up.
Their MO: asynchronous communication, of course! Let’s meet them and hear their insights.
One of the rules in GitLab’s 3,000 page handbook: don’t abuse Slack. Sitting on the synchronous-asynchronous border, Slack makes it so that you don’t have to reply to people right away, but you also kind of have to.
That’s why at GitLab, you’re asked not to send direct messages unless you really have to, but instead @people a question in relevant channels.
This is great for a few reasons:
- Frees up your time waiting for a reply.
- Someone else in the channel might see it, know the answer, and reply.
- People don’t feel tethered to their screens lest someone DM them.
- It’s a great way to create a knowledge hub.
Zapier’s secret? Move away from messaging and create an internal company blog! It’s a virtual place for people to write about what they’re working on and for teams to give updates on upcoming projects.
This type of asynchronous communication can cut down on check-in meetings and gives people the flexibility to get caught up on their own time.
The good folks at Invision emphasized video messaging over video calls. Face-to-camera videos can be a great way to give over important announcements or express something that deserves that authentic touch you just can’t get from an emoji or GIF.
Screen recordings are also an asynchronous method to show-and-tell information that would benefit from a visual aid like a demo. Plus, it frees up time from re-explaining them in real-time meetings.
Doist’s advice is to get good at naming your files. One of the biggest wastes of time is sifting through similarly named docs. Having a methodic naming system for files and folders might sound mundane, but it really saves people time finding what they want, when they want it. Bonus: It promotes a culture of transparency!
Asynchronous communication as a long end game
Is the mental shift from synchronous to asynchronous communication easy? Not really. There’s a big learning curve and organizational change that needs to happen if you’re trying to get everyone on board.
But if remote work is the future of work, then we’ll need to get better at it. The sooner we start fostering an asynchronous culture, the sooner we’ll be able to help employees manage their time, be productive, and enjoy the flow that comes with it.
Get started communicating asynchronously with monday.com, the Work OS that allows you to get work done.
Get started with collaboration software now
There is no escaping the fact that switching to asynchronous communication effectively is going to take time.
The biggest and quickest win, though, is implementing a project management platform like monday.com to improve team communication, speed up workflows, and provide one source of truth so each team member can access the latest updates whenever it works for them.
Try it out for yourself, no credit card required!