Before we talk about asynchronous meetings, let this sink in:
An average person spends 31 hours monthly in unproductive meetings (source: Atlassian). Yes, you read that right. That's 372 hours a year, almost equivalent to two weeks of work.
An asynchronous meeting lets you reclaim this lost time. It is a type of meeting where participants don't need to be present at the same time. Instead of trying to find a time that works for everyone, asynchronous meetings allow participants to contribute and respond at their own pace, thereby saving time and increasing collaboration.
In this blog, we'll dive into the world of asynchronous meetings and cover:
- What is an asynchronous meeting
- How do asynchronous meetings work
- The advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous meetings
- How to conduct async meetings and more!
so, read on!
What is an asynchronous meeting?
An asynchronous meeting (also known as an async meeting) is where participants don't need to be simultaneously available to participate.
Instead, participants can contribute to the meeting at their convenience, and the meeting progresses through a series of updates, comments, and responses, which are recorded and shared among the participants.
Asynchronous meetings can take different forms depending on the purpose and tools used. Some common examples include:
- Email-based meetings: Share your thoughts, updates, and questions via email, and let the meeting progress through a series of back-and-forth exchanges.
- Discussion forum meetings: Use a dedicated online platform (such as a forum or a collaboration tool) to post messages, reply to others, and engage in threaded discussions.
- Recorded video meetings: Record your presentations or updates in advance and share them with the group, allowing others to watch and comment on their own time.
Difference between synchronous and asynchronous meetings
There are two types of meetings: synchronous and asynchronous.
Synchronous meetings occur in real-time, with all participants present and actively participating in the conversation.
In contrast, async meetings do not require all participants to be present simultaneously. Instead, participants can contribute to the meeting at their own pace and convenience.
Here are some key differences between asynchronous and synchronous meetings:
While synchronous meetings offer the thrill of live interaction and collaboration, an async meeting gives you the flexibility to work on your schedule. So, choose the one that best suits your needs and circumstances.
Examples of asynchronous meetings
Now you’re clear about the asynchronous meeting meaning and what makes it different from synchronous meetings, here are a few day-to-day meetings that can be converted into async meetings.
- Asynchronous one-on-one meetings
- Asynchronous daily stand-ups
- Asynchronous training
- Asynchronous project update meetings
1. Asynchronous one-on-one meetings
Regular one-on-one meetings between you and your manager allow for direct communication on topics like the project’s progress, feedback, support, and advice.
Traditionally, one-on-one meetings have been conducted in person and at a set time. However, according to Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work, there has been an increasingly popular shift towards asynchronous meetings!
You can schedule an async meeting and check in with the other person over a simple email or slack message, and they shall respond at their convenience.
2. Asynchronous daily stand-ups
Do you still have to go in and out for stand-up meetings to share updates on your work and day?
Traditional face-to-face meetings may not always be feasible, yet keeping up with the team's tasks, projects, and goals is key to success.
Asynchronous stand-ups provide a way to keep communication flowing between team members without having to conduct endless in-person meetings.
You can create a group or a channel on your official communication medium and share the daily calendars, progress, list of tasks, dependencies, and delays into it before the deadline and discuss it further on chat.
3. Asynchronous training
The Association for Talent Development’s 2016 State of the Industry Report states that the average training cost per employee is $1,252, and an employee uses 33.5 training hours on average. That’s a lot of time and money spent on training one resource.
Asynchronous training eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming in-person training sessions or live instructors, making it a more cost-effective way to deliver training.
You can create effective asynchronous training programs using various formats such as video demos, e-learning, podcasts, or other online resources.
Remember to track progress and provide support until the training is complete.
4. Asynchronous project update meetings
Asynchronous project update meetings are meetings where participants communicate and exchange project updates at their own pace, using tools such as email, instant messaging, or collaboration software.
These meetings can benefit geographically dispersed teams with conflicting schedules or those who prefer a more flexible approach to communication.
Advantages of asynchronous meetings
Asynchronous meetings have several advantages. Here are a few of them:
- Offers flexibility and work-life balance
- Increases productivity
- Reduces meeting fatigue
- Eases documentation
- Promotes inclusivity
- Increases collaboration
- Higher efficiency
1. Offers flexibility and work-life balance
One of the primary advantages of asynchronous meetings is that they offer greater flexibility regarding when and where you can participate.
You can review meeting action items and share your thoughts at your convenience, improving your work-life balance.
2. Increases productivity
Say goodbye to attending multiple meetings throughout the day and focus on getting the job done. Asynchronous meetings reduce interruptions and distractions, boost productivity and give a greater sense of accomplishment.
3. Reduces meeting fatigue
Asynchronous meetings eliminate the need to go in for meetings now and then.
Instead, you can review the topic, and contribute your thoughts conveniently, minimizing information overload and meeting fatigue.
4. Eases documentation
An asynchronous meeting over text or email effortlessly creates a written record of the meeting content that everyone can reference later.
5. Promotes inclusivity
Asynchronous meetings foster inclusivity and diversity by accommodating different schedules and time zones, making them a convenient and productive option for remote teams.
6. Increases collaboration
Asynchronous meetings give you more time to reflect on meeting content and contribute thoughtful feedback. This can lead to more meaningful discussions and greater collaboration.
7. Reduces distractions and promotes clear communication
Asynchronous meetings are always focused and structured. It allows you to focus more on the core topic without distractions from real-time meetings, such as interruptions or side conversations.
Disadvantages of asynchronous meetings
Like every method or theory, asynchronous meetings have their disadvantages. Here are a few of them:
- High turnaround time
- Less opportunity to build relationships
- Technology dependent
- Limited brainstorming opportunities
1. High turnaround time
Asynchronous meetings lack the spontaneity and immediacy of live meetings. Due to delayed responses or communication, an async meeting takes longer to reach a decision or implement action items.
2. Difficulty in building relationships
Asynchronous meetings do not provide the same opportunities for informal conversations or relationship-building as live meetings do.
3. Technology barriers
Async meetings are heavily tech-dependent. You must always have stable internet and the right asynchronous meeting software (like Slack or Loom) for the meeting to function smoothly.
4. Limited brainstorming opportunities
A synchronous meeting allows you to bounce ideas off each other, build on each other's suggestions, and get immediate feedback on your ideas.
In contrast, asynchronous meetings are typically conducted through written communication or recorded messages, which can slow down the brainstorming process and limit the ability to build on ideas in real time.
How to conduct asynchronous meetings?
Here are 6 simple steps for organizing an effective asynchronous meeting.
Step 1: Define the agenda and goals
Like any other meeting, an async meeting must have a clear agenda. Define the meeting purpose and goals, as well as the specific tasks that need to be completed by each participant.
Step 2: Choose the right communication tools
Select the right tools for communication and collaboration, such as email, messaging apps, project management tools, or other asynchronous meeting software.
Ensure all participants have access to and are familiar with it.
Step 3: Set a timeframe and deadline
Set clear deadlines for participants to complete their tasks and contribute their ideas. This will help keep the meeting on track and eliminate potential delays.
Step 4: Assign Role
Assign specific roles to team members to ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities.
For example, you could assign a facilitator to guide the discussion, a notetaker to capture ideas, and a timekeeper to keep everyone on track.
Step 5: Invite for the meeting
Once you have decided on the agenda, communication medium, and deadlines, it’s time to inform the participants about the meeting. You may send out invitations via email or even create a slack channel.
At this stage, also communicate the meeting context, relevant documents, the specific tasks, and deadlines assigned for each participant.
Step 6: Encourage collaboration
Encourage participants to collaborate and share their ideas. You can ask them to leave comments, feedback, or other forms of communication that keeps the conversation going.
Step 7: Follow up
Follow up with the participants to check the progress and address any issues or concerns your team members may have.
You may need to schedule synchronous meetings or provide additional resources to help participants stay on track.
By following these steps, you can conduct an effective asynchronous meeting that allows participants to work collaboratively and achieve goals on time.
Asynchronous meetings offer the flexibility and efficiency that traditional synchronous meetings cannot match.
Simply, they’re the superhero for remote teams. They swoop in, save the day, and disappear into the night, leaving you free to conquer the world on your own terms.
So next time you're wondering whether or not to schedule another Zoom call, try conducting an asynchronous meeting. Who knows, they may just become your favorite way to collaborate with your team!