Balancing synchronous and asynchronous work
Synchronous and asynchronous work are two different ways for humans to collaborate with each their strengths and weaknesses.
Most modern work have traditionally been synchronous and thus many leaders are less familiar with mastering asynchronous work giving them a big disadvantage.
Synchronous work refers to work that is done in real-time, where two or more people work together at the same time and communicate with each other in real-time.
In synchronous work, participants must be available at the same time to work on the task, which typically involves being at the same physical location or communicating through a live video call or chat platform.
- Great for high-bandwidth tasks such as brainstorming ideas.
- Essential for sensitive communication where people might reach negatively.
- Great for bonding and team-building work.
- Requires less skilled leaders since fires are easier to put out in-sync.
- Exponentially limits where you can hire from. If everyone needs to be in the same physical location you can only hire a said distance from that location which compared to the available talent on the planet is tiny.
- Is very inflexible for your team. In most knowledge work it is the results that matters more than at what time of day and location the work was done.
- Effective contribution falls exponentially with the number of people needing to be in sync. A 1-hour 8 person meeting will cost 7 hours of non-contributing work (since only one can talk at a time).
- If not in the same location sync work takes time to schedule and interrupts deep focus work.
Asynchronous work, on the other hand, refers to work that is completed at different times or locations without the need for real-time communication.
In asynchronous work, individuals work independently and communicate through asynchronous channels such as email, project management software or messaging platforms. This allows team members to work on their own schedules and time zones, making it a more flexible and adaptable way of working.
- Great for getting things done in knowledge based environments where your results are more important. More work can be done simultaneously.
- Exponentially bigger talent-pool means that it is way easier to find top talent.
- Not having to commute is one of the best benefits you can give your team and can give you an advantage when competing for the best people.
- Requires great leadership-skills since fires are easier to put out in-sync.
- Not good for sensitive communication where people might reach negatively and you have to react to that in real-time.
How leaders create balance
As a leader it is not about choosing one or the other but about helping your team have the right mix for them. This balance is highly individual and depends on both the type of work done and peoples personal preferences.
As a great leader you have to master both.
Synchronous work is typically easier for the leader and asynchronous work is typically better for your employees. Forcing your own preference upon others is typically the biggest failure of modern leaders.
As you will see, a lot if Calm Leadership comes from untangling a busy work-life by introducing more asynchronous work into your own leadership.
This works exactly because it makes life easier for your team and thus - in the long run - for you.