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Asynchronous collaboration: best practices to overcome the most common challenges

Published:

August 30, 2023

Updated:

August 30, 2023

Asynchronous collaboration, or when two people are not expected to be available simultaneously to work together, is one of the best ways to collaborate remotely. With flexible work becoming the norm, collaboration has taken on new dimensions and is more important than ever. The traditional geographical and time boundaries no longer define the workplace, as people work from different locations and time zones. However, this brings both opportunities and challenges to the forefront, such as managing distributed teams and allocating the time and space for meaningful teamwork. Hybrid work increases productivity. But it can also have the opposite effect if you don’t create a perfect setup to enhance team collaboration.

This article delves into the significance of working asynchronously for employee engagement and business success, exploring its potential to fuel efficiency, creativity, and growth. Moreover, we shed light on the most common obstacles faced in hybrid work setups and provide actionable tips to overcome them.

hybrid work team chatting and collaborating

Why is mastering asynchronous collaboration essential for your employees and business success?

Poor collaboration leads to stress and disengagement

Collaborating in a hybrid setting can be challenging, especially when the team is distributed across different time zones and places. Therefore, improving collaboration methods is crucial to avoid employee stress and disengagement. It can be difficult to try and organize a time to meet or to work on a project virtually, especially with flexible models. If these challenges are not mitigated, your team can feel exceptionally frustrated and not want to contribute. 

Inadequate collaboration practices slow down projects and growth

If your staff is unable to meet and work together properly in the right space, they can have trouble finishing projects in a timely manner. With tasks being put on hold, the growth and success of your company might suffer. The more time spent finding a space and date to work (physically or digitally), the less energy is dedicated to working on the project. We can't expect tasks to progress without daily active collaboration and the right equipment.

Successful asynchronous collaboration leads to efficiency, productivity, and creativity

Successful asynchronous communication means employees are able to work individually at different times and places in an efficient way that mimics if they were in the office. Communicating asynchronously implies that each person has to wait for a response from a teammate or brainstorm individually. However, if organized correctly using tools to streamline information and tasks, the team can be more efficient and creative. In fact, sometimes brainstorming alone before discussing with colleagues creates an even better outcome.

Strong collaboration bonds people and makes them more resilient 

Collaboration is necessary to build a team that is resilient and cohesive. We need these personal connections to create bonds with our teammates, whether made online or in person. Not only do these ties improve the mental health of employees, but they also ensure that the team works well together and maximizes efficiency.

👉 Learn more about the correlation between hybrid work and mental health!

laptop screen showing multiple people in a zoom call

What are the main collaboration issues teams can face in a hybrid work setup?

Lack of appropriate hybrid collaboration tools

Hybrid collaboration tools are key to running a flexible office. They help streamline communication, ensure documents are centralized, and automate important office management practices like desk and meeting room booking. Some of the tools you can implement include:

  • Desk booking software;
  • Cloud-based document management solution;
  • Text-based communication tool (e.g.: Slack);
  • Video conferencing platform.

Absence of asynchronous collaboration guidelines 

Without setting the right guidelines, there is an increased risk of miscommunication. This can impact the coordination of different projects as employees might be unable to agree on a time or space for collaboration. It can also create silos, meaning other teams or even different individuals are not fully communicating and operating individually.  For example, in an international team, all written and verbal communication must be in one common language, such as English. Like this, everyone can understand, and nobody is left behind.

Loss of workplace connection

As many of us who have transitioned into remote and hybrid work in recent years have experienced, building meaningful relationships with colleagues through a screen is difficult. We have to navigate asynchronous communication and are working in a less personal way. Workplace connection is lost when there are fewer in-person interactions, as it is harder to bond with colleagues digitally. As a result, organizational culture can also suffer as it is created by the employees. This is why it is even more important to prioritize corporate culture and building connections in these new work models.

Creation of silos and risk of isolation

While there are several solutions to improve communication and collaboration in hybrid teams, there is a risk of silos and isolation. Naturally, when part of the team is working from home, they can be isolated in some ways. This may aid in focus but also can lead to silos if individuals are not communicating clearly and regularly with each other. In remote settings, employees might interact with their team but don't often have the chance to discuss with others.

💡 Time to read more about the remote work communication best practices!

guy sitting alone, feeling isolated for working remotely

Geographical and time difference issues

Working with distributed and hybrid teams, or those spread across different countries and continents makes coordination more difficult. Managers need to keep time zones in mind to ensure everyone gets to collaborate. For example, organizing a meeting is more complicated and requires more skills because time zones must be aligned.  Also, distributed teams allow businesses to find the best talent globally and create a more diverse organization with different perspectives. While this enhances creativity and problem-solving, it can also challenge intercultural communication.

Poor remote communication strategy

Remote teams especially need a strong communication strategy. While hybrid teams meet from time to time, fully remote employees do not have this opportunity. Therefore, additional measures must be taken to build connections and culture virtually. Communication between managers and employees also needs to be extremely clear so that the right expectations are set, such as goal setting and work ethic.

Zoom fatigue

For flexible teams, video conferencing is the primary way to hold meetings. Text messaging is great for quickly sending a document or asking a question but not for collaborating on more complex tasks requiring brainstorming and colleague feedback. Therefore, virtual meetings are not only the driver of personal connection but also business success. However, this leads to what we like to call Zoom fatigue.

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What are the best ways to collaborate remotely?

Train both managers and employees to collaborate remotely

Both managers and employees need to be trained properly in a hybrid environment, as it takes successful collaboration from both to run a hybrid organization. First, managers must be prepared to communicate with and lead a hybrid team. For many leaders, this new challenge requires rethinking their leadership style. For example, there is a tendency towards micromanagement because managers cannot physically oversee the work that is being done. However, this usually has the opposite effect and harms productivity.  On the other hand, employees need to learn how to use hybrid workplace technology and create work-life balance in a setting where home life and work life are not entirely separate.

Implement an asynchronous collaboration policy

An asynchronous collaboration policy helps the team understand how to use the different tools provided to manage a hybrid office. For example, setting rules for using Slack and other messaging platforms when discussing sensitive information. This could also include being clear about when employees need to be ‘online’ and available for colleagues to contact them when working remotely. 

Look for the best team collaboration tools

The best way to drive efficiency within asynchronous teams is by using collaboration tools! The good news is that hybrid work solutions are a rapidly growing and innovative market with many great options. But with so many options, how do you know you are choosing the right one? It is essential to pick technologies that match employees' needs. This includes paying attention to the integrations available, such as working seamlessly with Google or Slack. A great example of an employee-centric tool is desk booking software like deskbird. It makes it easier to meet on-site and keep track of who is working where and when. This helps manage teams and ensure employees’ needs are being met.

two colleagues having a zoom call

Learn how to conduct a successful virtual meeting

In a digital world, collaborating remotely usually means having many virtual meetings. They are one of the few ways we can mimic in-person collaboration and are a key to success. While running such meetings seems intuitive, there are some best practices for remote meetings to remember. For example, set a meeting agenda beforehand, share it with participants, and use the interactive features.

🤩 Check out our customers’ reviews to discover what our users think about the deskbird app!

Know your team’s communication preferences

The communication preferences of your team might vary. This is crucial to remember when setting guidelines and implementing new tools. As workplaces become more diverse and multigenerational, reach out to your team and collect surveys to understand better what they expect.  For example, our Gen Z communication style article highlighted that this demographic group prefers short-written messages for quick questions and tasks. However, they prefer to meet in person physically for more complex problems.

Focus on being inclusive and fair with all your hybrid employees     

While inclusion in the workplace is often discussed in the context of diversity, in hybrid settings, it also needs to be considered in terms of including those who work from home. Many hybrid and remote workers fear losing opportunities because they are not physically present in the office. Therefore, leaders need to take extra care to include those working from home in important discussions and build relationships with them by simulating casual conversations in the office. This can consist of quick coffee chats over Zoom to allow team members to get to know each other.

Foster team bonding through games, activities, and events

Personal relationships can also be created through activities and events. This takes the pressure of work out of the equation and allows people to become closer. Organized team bonding activities can occur online or incentivize people to visit the office. These moments help facilitate conversation, giving everyone a good jumping-off point to build connections. This can be taken to the next level by hosting events and even gathering the team into the same city to meet if they are distributed worldwide. 

Encourage transparency and ask your employees for feedback

Finally and most importantly, leaders must be transparent when setting policies, creating guidelines and making changes. The frustration from flexible models mainly comes from poor communication and lack of clarity- Therefore, it is crucial to have open conversations with employees to know where they struggle and get their opinion about what is lacking to make team collaboration more successful. As organizations adopt the future of work practices, facilitating meaningful collaboration lies at the heart of their success. Asynchronous collaboration allows teams to transcend geographical constraints and work together no matter their location or time zone. However, this comes with challenges. Businesses can improve productivity, innovation, and employee well-being by addressing the critical challenges of working asynchronously and implementing the right tools and tactics. Embracing training, leveraging resources, and fostering an inclusive environment are not mere strategies but pivotal steps in crafting a thriving remote and hybrid work ecosystem. As we continue redefining the workplace, individuals' and teams' adaptability, openness, and effective collaboration steer organizations toward sustained growth. 

Now that you know the best ways to work remotely, do you have the right technology?

Request a free demo of the deskbird app to discover how workspace booking and week planning enhance teamwork!

Sources: 

Asynchronous collaboration: best practices to overcome the most common challenges

Annabel Benjamin

Annabel is a hybrid work expert who combines insightful strategies with practical applications to help navigate the changing landscape of modern employment. Her writings provide a wealth of tips, best practices, and innovative approaches to boost productivity, foster team cohesion, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in hybrid settings. 

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