Back in the day, we only talked face-to-face. So by default, we stuffed our days with meetings, meetings, and -you guessed it- more meetings to get things done. 

Today on the other hand, employees check Slack for missed messages while binge watching a random Netflix show. And each morning they email 3 colleagues before even hitting the shower… 

We’re living in a real-time communication age. People send messages to whoever they want, about whatever they want, whenever they want. And it’s spinning out of control. Fast.

According to the HBR, people spend a whopping 80% of their day communicating about their job instead of actually working. Eigh-ty percent!!

It’s a damn shame because it makes people half-ass their job as there is less mental capacity for so-called ‘deep work’ (see image). It also results in soaring stress levels and a drop in mental health as employees feel like they’re not getting any meaningful work done.

Obviously this can’t be the only way forward.

So we tried to fix this at BossData. 

 

Now, how exactly do we at BossData handle things so our employees get to focus more on deep work? It’s by making asynchronous or ‘async’ communication the default. 

 

Async what?

 

Synchronous and asynchronous: two ways of dealing with communication.

What’s the diff?

Synchronous communication is simple, old-school, real-time communication. For example, meetings & phone calls.

Asynchronous communication is when two (or more) people communicate without being “present” at the same time. For example, Slack, Whatsapp, video recordings (Loom for the win), etc.

Both have their place on the workfloor, but we organised our company in a way that asynchronous communication is our weapon of choice.

 

Why? Because asynchronous communication lets colleagues be the master of their own schedule. It allows them to focus on their tasks at hand and answer messages only when they have time for it. This way, they can finally start working on ‘deep work’, instead of merely talking about work.

As an employer, all this sure sounds like a dream.

So you’re probably wondering: ‘How do you empower this way of work?’ 

Read along to find out…

How we organised our company to make asynchronous communication be the default

 

We know we’re challenging the status quo here. After all: calm, asynchronous communication isn’t the current norm. It’s going to take a big shift to change things. Here are four steps we’re taking to make asynchronous communication the default: 

 

1. Async first

Before planning a meet-up , we make our colleagues ask themselves: ‘Is this meeting really necessary? Or could this meeting be an email?’ This saves everyone loads of time and makes you a master of your own calendar. 

The same goes for status updates by the way! We try to avoid holding them over the phone/meetings since they can easily be done via email or through a Loom recording which everyone can watch on their own time. 

 

2. Decide when to go back to synchronous communication

Noted. Async communication first. However, if all communication takes place through messaging, will colleagues never work face-to-face again? And should we just forget about small talk at the start of every meeting to catch up on each other’s weekend plans? Wouldn’t that affect team spirit? 

Of course this will affect the team. So yes, you guessed it. There’s still a place for real-time communication. Especially when it comes to relationship building. Let’s go through some examples where we opt for synchronous communication…

 

  • One-on-one feedback sessions 
  • Yearly get-aways with the company
  • When it’s someone’s first couple of weeks at the office
  • During crisis situations
  • Essential meetings to map out future goals and strategies
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Kick-off meetings

 

3. Getting most out of physical meetings 

When we do choose synchronous communication, we don’t want to dilly dally. That’s why we prepare others for the upcoming meeting as best as we can.

For example, our colleagues write down precise and descriptive descriptions for every face to face meeting. This way no time is wasted and meeting guests will know what to expect when they enter the room.

Is the preparation too much to write down? Then roll the cameras, baby! Loom is a great tool that’ll help you save a lot of time when you need to explain stuff. 

Want to go the extra mile? Be like Jeff Bezos, who makes everyone read a 6-page memo before a meeting. Or like Elon Musk, who demands people to ditch a meeting as soon as they feel they’re not adding value. 

Who knows, you’ll end up a billionaire as well.. 

 

4. Having an output over responsivity mindset 

A trust-based culture is crucial to make asynchronous communication flourish. That’s why BossData is built upon a culture in which we don’t evaluate people on their responsiveness. Instead, we look at their quality of work.

(Fyi, that’s why we give our employees unlimited paid holidays too) 

Within our colleagues, this mindset really lives. When you’re doing deep work, you become invisible. Nobody expects you to answer their messages immediately. Not even the big boss himself. In the end, responsivity can’t be a point of frustration anymore.

 

Using your time in the best way possible

 

After laying out these basic rules and habits, we managed to create an asynchronous mindset across the company. 

Working more effectively comes in all shapes and sizes. Asynchronous communication is one, but there’s a lot of other time hacks out there.

That’s why we made a card deck of our 20 most favourite time hacks, and it’s free for grabs!
Give me the goodies!