What is asynchronous work?

The former synchronous working model we used to live by has been replaced with a new one. Welcome to the world of asynchronous work. Asynchronous (async) work is an arrangement where employees can work individually whenever they like.

The Future Forum summarizes the benefits of asynchronous (async) work as follows:

  • Working asynchronously counteracts the forces of burnout and boosts creativity by creating space for focused work, helping employees get unstuck from a loop of hyperresponsiveness.
  • It allows for easy collaboration across geography and time zones, so you can open your talent search to a wider pool and hire the best person for the job, no matter where they live.
  • It allows for nonlinear workdays, which have great potential to benefit the health and wellbeing of all employees, but are particularly beneficial to employees with caretaking responsibilities or health concerns.
  • Its reliance on visibility and documentation makes decisions easier to trace, serving as an archive of a project for current and future employees to reference.
  • It respects employees’ innate workstyle differences while empowering them with greater responsibility and autonomy
  • When done right, it’s more efficient and productive than synchronous work, because colleagues aren’t puncturing each other’s concentration looking for shortcuts to information or breaking their stride to attend meetings throughout the day.

Being interrupted constantly reduces work efficiency. Research from the University of California, Irvine, suggests that it takes the average person 23 minutes to refocus following an interruption. Not only are interruptions stress provoking, but basic arithmetic tells us that they are very costly to productivity.

Overall, while asynchronous work can offer many benefits to both employees and employers, it can also create new challenges that some employers may be hesitant to embrace. In particular, it can be difficult to keep track of tasks and progress, especially when workflows are complex and require attention to detail. Additionally, asynchronous work can lead to feelings of isolation, as it can be difficult to build relationships with colleagues when working remotely.

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