Working from home (or remotely from anywhere that has good connectivity) was one of the necessary changes that was driven by the pandemic. Most companies used one of two different remote work models: synchronous and asynchronous. If using the synchronous model, everyone is online and working at the same time, much like the schedule would be if they were all physically in the office. This works well for smaller companies that have most of their workers in the same time zone making it more convenient. However, asynchronous is the most popular because of its flexibility and the fact that employees have more control over the work-life balance.
Flexibility is a Key Driver
Being able to set their own work hours is the real perk valued most by remote workers using the asynchronous model. With that flexibility, they can work when it is convenient for them instead of the company; many remote workers choose to work either before the kids get up in the morning or after they are in bed at night.
Or if there is a school function or outing during the day, a remotely working parent can attend and make up the time working in a different part of the day. Remote workers on a synchronous schedule can’t do that. They would have to arrange time off just the same as if they were working physically in an office.
It’s all about control of your own schedule
Studies have shown that asynchronous workers also have increased productivity and are happier overall being they have some control over their life and are better equipped to create a work-life balance most workers want (but rarely get). How happy?
In a recent survey of 2,000 employees, when asked about their work preferences, 84% said they are more likely to work for a company that operates asynchronously. And the results don’t just span one age group. Millennials (90%), Gen-Zs (80%). Gen-Xs (82%), and Boomers (79%) all reported they would rather work asynchronously.
5 Lessons of the Remote Work Model
If your company does not offer asynchronously flexibility, here are five lessons learned to help you set up that type of remote work model for your employees:
1. Set times when everyone is offline regardless of time zone.
The asynchronous model works well for companies that span the globe and hence many time zones.. But there is a danger in that. Some employees feel they have to be available to all they support in all the different time zones. Companies that have experience with this model designate “off time” Some companies even designate a certain day of the month (like maybe the third Friday of each month) as a paid day off, just to reinforce the idea that employees don’t have to be available 24/7/365.
2. Cut the number of meetings.
Having asynchronous workers means that having live meetings can be difficult if those that need to be in attendance are spread out globally. First, many meetings are not worth the time they take to present, so cut down the number. Next, if a meeting is essential, record it and post it so that asynchronous workers can listen to it during their work time. If a response is required back from each participant, set a date to have them reply back by email. Everything does not have to be live and in real-time.
3. Encourage workers to set their own work schedules.
Most of us fall into a daily routine, so it is easy to say I’m working from 5am to 9am and again from 6pm to 10 pm. If someone does need to contact you about something where they need an answer right away, they know when you are working and available.
4. Respect culture diversity.
With a global workforce, make it a point to post country-specific and religious holidays. Not only does this bring workers together to know more about each other’s country, culture and beliefs, but it is respectful of our differences and should be encouraged.
5. Establish personal accountability and goals.
When workers are remote, it is easy for a manager to not maintain the same kind of contact with them that they would otherwise have if they were all in the same location. So ensure each employee under your span of control has a career plan. Also make sure each employee knows what work must get done and when it should be done if that project has a deadline. Having this personal accountability in place for each remote employee also makes it easier when it comes to writing a performance review.
It Takes Trust
In the end, having asynchronous remote workers requires a certain amount of trust. Trust from supervisors that you are looking out for their best interest, just the same as if they were in the office. And as a worker, trust to your supervisor that you are not only getting the work done and on time, but most are going above and beyond expectations. When that two-way street of trust is established, the asynchronous remote model works well and is a win/win for all involved.