The 9 to 5 workday is at least a century old, and for good reason. It gives stability to organizations. It brings everyone together at the same time. And most importantly, it gives managers a rough way to measure performance.
But times are changing. Video and chat technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated, allowing professionals to work virtually anywhere, anytime. And with the onset of Covid-19, our use of technology to facilitate asynchronous working models has only grown.
So what happens then as we slowly trickle back into the office? Do we simply return to the conventional time structures that we’ve relied upon for so long? I don’t think we should.
In-person, same-time teamwork is incredibly valuable, and there will always be a place for it. But if we let these new working models fall to the wayside as we “return to normal,” we risk missing out on the benefits that these technologies make possible.
So, with that in mind, here are seven reasons why leaders should embrace a more asynchronous working model for their teams — not just during Covid-19 but in the long run. Your product, your culture and your business will thank you.
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1. Prevent Rushed Decisions
I recently spent six weeks in Ghana working and visiting family, and one of the benefits of being five hours ahead of the rest of my team was the extra time I had to reflect on their questions and concerns.
Being asynchronous, in other words, helped me unlearn a bad habit that’s common in the workplace: forming snap judgments about important issues. Because when everyone is working at the same time, they begin to expect real-time responses, which means that big decisions get rushed. Working asynchronously, by contrast, allowed me to take a more thoughtful approach to the task at hand.
2. Reduce Anxiety And Burnout
Working on the same “clock” as everyone else doesn’t just lead to rushed decisions, but it can also lead to team burnout. When everyone feels the need to respond to emails and notifications right away, it can take a toll on our mental health and negatively affect performance.
Working asynchronously can changes expectations around response times and allow everyone to feel more comfortable relaxing, focusing on doing their best work and getting back to their colleagues at the appropriate time.
3. Reduce Employee Churn
Whenever an employee decides to leave town, that’s churn. Whenever an employee feels they can’t work 9 to 5 because of something else in their lives, that’s churn. By embracing more flexible, asynchronous working models, you can keep more of your talent — wherever they are and however they like to work.
4. Achieve A Global Perspective
I’ve lived in six countries across three continents, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that a global perspective to business is all too absent in North America.
With asynchronous work, you dramatically open up where you can hire from, broadening and diversifying your perspective with international talent. That kind of divergent, cross-cultural thinking can lead to great ideas and improve team performance.
5. Hire The Best Talent
This one’s simple, and relates directly to No. 4: By embracing an asynchronous working model, you can effectively hire from anywhere, opening up the pool of talent from which you can draw. And in the global war for talent, the more flexible and accommodating a workplace is, the more attractive it can be to prospective hires. Salaries can be convincing, but flexibility can be game-changing.
6. Measure Performance, Not Time
Measuring time can be a good proxy for measuring impact. But all too often, the “ass-in-chair” philosophy of management is used as a crutch.
Good managers should hold their teams accountable to outcomes, not time in the office. By going asynchronous, you force your managers to measure what matters. Don’t think “Where have you been?” but “I don’t care when (or where) you work, so long as it gets done.”
7. Increase Organizational Resilience
The more distributed and decentralized you are, often the less vulnerable you are to disruption in any one location. By allowing people to work anywhere and anywhen, you increase adaptability and resilience to whatever comes your way — Covid-19 included.
When Clint Robinson and I founded our company, we did so because we were interested in the relationship between work and place, and in particular, in how technology can improve it. So if technology is allowing us to explore working models outside of the century-old 9 to 5, I say, embrace it. You don’t have to say goodbye to same-time work altogether; you simply have another trick up your sleeve.