The pandemic might have changed when, where, and how we work, but it hasn’t changed the fact that a healthy workflow is critical to the success of every business. However, transitioning to a remote or virtual work environment is easier said than done, especially when it comes to orchestrating consistent work and staying on the same page due to different work schedules and time zones. When working remotely with a team spread across the country or the world, the secret to success is mastering the art of asynchronous working.
In this post, I’ll dive deeper into this trending work concept and share how to maintain an efficient workflow across different time zones.
What is Asynchronous Work?
Asynchronous work is a non-consequential or independent way of organizing tasks and operations to maintain a consistent flow of operations without relying on real-time communication. It happens when employees on the same team work different shifts or in different time zones. Traditionally, workers are expected to be available throughout their working hours. However, asynchronous doesn’t work to emphasize instant communication or participation but rather at the earliest convenience. For instance, managers can’t expect workers to be glued to their cellphones at all times and respond instantly when working remotely.
As unorthodox as this sounds, this type of workflow has become highly effective thanks to tools and technologies, such as email, IM platforms, cloud services, and virtual collaborative services, which allow accessing, storing, and exchanging information anytime and anywhere possible.
- Businesses can hire around the globe due to the removal of geographic barriers to recruitment.
- Flexible work schedules and autonomy boosts productivity.
- With work spread out across different time zones, there’s always someone online.
- Performance is evaluated using output, not time spent on seat or hours put in.
- Communication is more purposeful and less distracting.
- There’s no constant or real-time collaboration, meaning tasks could take longer to deliver due to longer response times.
- Unless employees define clear boundaries, they can disrupt their work-life balance further.
- Managers will have to deal with additional responsibilities and scrutiny when keeping track of everything.
How to Maintain an Efficient Workflow across Different Time Zones – 5 Valuable Tips
1. Specify Your Working Hours and Time Zone
Although asynchronous work promotes fosters flexible work schedules, it is important to set your standard work hours so your team knows when they can reach you and avoid confusion about your availability. Also, don’t forget to specify your time zone when scheduling meetings and tasks so everyone is on the same page regarding submission, task completion, and meetings, etc.
2. Set Priorities, Deadlines, and Agendas Proactively
Every organization operates differently with unique process chains and sequences, communication channels, and employee collaboration levels. To maintain an efficient workflow, managers must set priority levels, deadlines, and agendas for every task to ensure teams plan their activities accordingly. By doing this proactively and recurringly, you can ensure that everyone remains on the same page at all times.
3. Set Up Your Asynchronous, Remote Work Environment
For asynchronous remote work to run smoothly across different time zones, you’ll need to ensure that your team is equipped with the proper tools and technologies to carry out their tasks efficiently while maintaining effective communication. In the digital age, there are myriad apps that can facilitate communication, collaboration, and productivity so you can maintain an efficient workflow across different time zones. The following are some essential tools that can help enhance your remote work environment:
§ Time Tracking
§ Task Management
§ Organization and Scheduling
4. Be Considerate of Your Team’s or Employees’ Working Hours
In an asynchronous remote work model, just because you’re working doesn’t mean your team in other locations is or should. You need to respect your employees’ or team’s off-hour value and avoid contacting them regarding anything unless it’s necessary. Sometimes, maintaining an efficient workflow across different time zones is about creating less urgency so when there’s a genuine emergency, you have all hands on deck. Moreover, text-based conversation lacks emotional context and tone, so if you need to discuss something important, opt for calling or setting up a video conference instead.
5. Make Sure Your Communication Encompasses the 7 C’s
Asynchronous communication tends to be slower due to varying response times and the quality of information. Therefore, you need to ensure that your communication is clear, correct, concise, courteous, concrete, considerate, and complete. While this is easier said than done, evolving your remote communication strategy by actively learning can help you and your teams provide all important details upfront without wasting time on unnecessary back-and-forth.
6. Employ a Multiplexing Approach to Task
Asynchronous work allows you to go beyond multitasking and adopt the art of multiplexing. This involves taking a nonlinear approach to task execution and learning to switch back and forth between projects to ensure that productivity remains consistent while you’re waiting for feedback or more information. For example, suppose you have two tasks to complete. While working on the first task, you get stuck and ask your team member for assistance. Instead of waiting for their response, you can start working on the second task and keep the ball rolling. Even if the tasks are consequential, you can get started with the prep work to save time.
Even with the pandemic nearing its end, it’s improbable that organizations will go back to business as usual following the adoption of remote and asynchronous work models. Therefore, leaders and managers must learn how to maintain an efficient workflow across different time zones and foster continued engagement and collaboration.