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What You Need To Know About Running An Asynchronous Meeting

What Are Asynchronous Meetings? I’m glad you asked. An asynchronous meeting is the latest catchphrase regarding workplace communication and it’s said to boost productivity and efficiency. It is just like any other meeting in that participants communicate their thoughts around a topic over a set period of time. But it differs in that participants are…

Laura Holton

USA

What You Need To Know About Running An Asynchronous Meeting

What Are Asynchronous Meetings?

I’m glad you asked. An asynchronous meeting is the latest catchphrase regarding workplace communication and it’s said to boost productivity and efficiency. It is just like any other meeting in that participants communicate their thoughts around a topic over a set period of time. But it differs in that participants are not necessarily communicating in real time.

Let’s take a deeper look.

What Are The Benefits of Asynchronous Meetings

There are a number of benefits associated with asynchronous meetings. These include:

  • Team members can participate and engage at their own pace
  • There are fewer distractions
  • It makes sense for teams who work across different time zones. So no one needs to pretend to be wide awake and engaged at 6 am because they’re in a minority time zone while it’s afternoon for other team members.
  • It also makes sense for employees who work different shifts
  • There’s time to process and give thought to what has been discussed, so contributions are more likely to be meaningful rather than off the cuff remarks that don’t actually add any value.
  • Employees have more time to do uninterrupted deep work which more often than not results in their best work
  • People can still set their own schedule. If they need to take their kids to school at a certain time, they don’t need to feel guilty for missing a meeting or having to make alternative transport arrangements for their kids
  • Logistically trying to accommodate everyone and find a time that is convenient for all can be really difficult. Asynchronous meetings removes the need.
  • It gives introverts the chance to put forth their ideas in a way that feels comfortable to them
  • Team members can choose when it is most convenient for them to engage and will give their full attention to the task. This way they can provide thoughtful responses with deeper insight
  • It makes for better and more accurate record keeping which can be accessed by later employees and used for training purposes
  • And my personal favorite – a huge reduction in utterly pointless meetings.

Are Real-Time Meetings A Waste of Time?

According to Atlassian, 31 hours a month were spent in unproductive meetings.

And among respondents surveyed, 91% daydreamed during meetings and 39% actually fell asleep during meetings.

 

Staying Focused on The Topic at Hand

I once worked with a tech company who would have a monthly meeting where all departmental heads would have the opportunity to provide feedback regarding their departments to the Exco and the rest of the company. It was also beautifully catered with delicious food on offer.

Things started out well enough, but after a few months it devolved into an opportunity for office politicians to try and outshine each other. It was painful, dragged on for hours and was a massive waste of everyone’s time. Thankfully, a new MD was appointed, experienced exactly one of these meetings and swiftly took action.

The following month, the meeting was held in the company’s outdoor parking lot, without seating, refreshments – and this is important – without shade. It’s amazing how focused one becomes when the sun is beating down on you and your colleagues are glaring at you, willing you to get to the point.

Fortunately you don’t need to make your team stand out in the sun to keep meetings to the point – asynchronous meetings greatly reduce time wastage.

How to Prepare for an Asynchronous Meeting?

Whenever a company implements something new, there is bound to be some uncertainty and even skepticism or reluctance around it. So the best way to move ahead is to get everyone’s buy-in. You can do this effectively by explaining the benefits to your team members. Remember, you want to highlight the benefits to them and not necessarily the company.

What are the benefits of asynchronous meetings to your team? It could include:

  • More flexibility
  • Uninterrupted time to concentrate – which means they’re more likely to get their tasks done sooner.
  • Saves time.

It is also a good idea to ask team members for their opinions and suggestions and to address any concerns they may have regarding the new approach.

Clearly Defined Outcomes

Then second most important point is to clearly define the desired outcome or goal of the asynchronous meeting. Then all team members need to populate the meeting agenda by an agreed upon date / time.

There are several platforms where you can conduct your asynchronous meetings – anything from Google docs to Slack or if you’re looking for a software designed with this in mind, Fellow is a smart solution for team meetings – everything from agendas to actionable items and feedback.

Mandatory Responses

Ensure team members understand that responses are mandatory. Even if they have nothing to add, a simple acknowledgement is considered courteous and confirms that they have read and understood the message. Something like:

  • Yes, I agree
  • Sounds good.
  • That makes sense
  • I’m on board
  • That’s great

What are the Potential Disadvantages of Asynchronous Meetings?

Well, because it’s not happening in real time, you can’t take action or make decisions immediately. The process is a lot slower and it takes more time. So, it’s really not the best method if there is a sense of urgency around an issue.

Then there’s the issue of isolation. When it comes to working remotely, team members can sometimes feel isolated or disconnected from their teammates. Which is why from time to time – it’s still a good idea to have a Zoom call, so teammates can reconnect and enjoy some face time.

Meetings in Real Time

It’s also worth noting that asynchronous meetings are not appropriate for ALL meetings. Conduct some meetings face-to-face in real time like performance reviews, career development and crisis management meetings.

So which Meetings Should Be Asynchronous?

  • Announcements
  • Brainstorming
  • Team check-ins
  • Project feedback
  • Management presentations
  • Project kick offs

Asynchronous meetings are a great way to stay connected and productive while also reducing distractions. By following these tips, you can use them effectively and get the most out of them.

Screen Time

You don’t need to limit asynchronous meetings to text or voice notes.

You can make a video walk through for your team and have them watch it and provide feedback in their own time. And they can provide feedback via video if they choose.

Because communication relies heavily on non-verbal cues, asynchronous video makes a lot of sense. Slack allows for users to record audio and video clips of up to 3 minutes long and can be used for brainstorming ideas and quickly and easily sharing updates.

The act of the matter is we all used to asynchronous communication – asynchronous meetings are just the next step for greater productivity and efficiency.

You know what else leads to greater productivity and efficiency?

Working with a skilled virtual assistant who can free up your time and take a variety of tasks off your hands. Interested?

Book a Discovery call with us today and let’s make that happen for you.

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