Hybrid work: 6 more ways to enable asynchronous collaboration

Want to maximize your hybrid team's productivity? Consider these best practices for asynchronous collaboration in the era of hybrid work
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As IT organizations move toward a post-pandemic phase of work, it’s time for tech leaders to take what they’ve learned about managing a remote workforce to the next level and create the optimal  hybrid work environment for employees.

“The time is perfect to pivot from that and teach an organization how to make big productivity gains and great hybrid experiences through working asynchronously,” says Brian Abrahamson, CIO and associate laboratory director for communications and IT at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab.

In part one of this article, IT leaders and experts offered seven ways to best support the hybrid workforce. Here are six more best practices to consider - for leaders who want to ensure continued productivity, relationship building, and more, this year and beyond.

1. Make relationship-building part of your routine

During hybrid work, you’ll need to build rapport in new ways.

If team members are going to be working at different hours, you’ll need to build rapport in new ways. “If you rely on help from another department or person, set up time to meet with them that has nothing to do with work,” advises Jason James, CIO of EHR software and analytics provider Net Health. “Consider a virtual coffee, chat, whatever works. Building personal relationships helps to foster workplace collaboration, efficiency, and can make the workplace more enjoyable.”

2. Pump the brakes on meetings

“These days, calendars are stacked with back-to-back Zoom meetings with little time to recharge throughout the day,” says Sudheesh Nair, CEO of ThoughtSpot. “To avoid burnout, managers should determine which meetings are critical to attend live, and for those that aren’t, give people the freedom to work independently and listen when they’re able to.”

Consider how your existing group chat and word processing tools can help with non-urgent communication. “By moving conversations to a written format, employees have more of a chance to think and reflect before weighing in with their opinion,” Nair says.

[ Want more hybrid work strategies? Read Hybrid work: 4 roles to assign in every meeting and Hybrid work: 7 signs that meeting should be an email. ]

3. Empower the team to succeed

Listen to employees and remove any barriers to asynchronous work that they report. “If any team needs to wait for support or praise to be successful, they will fail,” says Iain Fisher, director at global technology research and advisory firm ISG. "[But] if they are given the right tools and ability to drive their destiny, they never stop and succeed.

Also, remind yourself to practice empathy. “We all need to remember to be patient and understanding of others’ situations,” James notes. “When we’re not in the same physical office, we may not know that a colleague is helping their kids with remote school, caring for an elderly parent, or dealing with other issues.”

[ Read 10 essential soft skills for the remote work era and Emotional intelligence: 8 ways to improve yours in 2021. ]

4. Stay connected

“To help alleviate potential stressors, IT managers should look to communicate clear, tailored direction and expectations to individual teams on an ongoing basis. This will help drive results across the organization while minimizing the risk of delays that will cause upstream productivity losses,” says Chris Conry, CIO at cloud communication and collaboration platform provider Fuze. “To be successful with asynchronous work, organizations must define clear escalation paths for reporting unexpected project delays or circumstances.”

5. …But not too connected

“Asynchronous work is a balancing act,” says Laurent Perrin, co-founder and CTO of customer communication platform Front. “There’s the need to bring teammates together for collaboration and also the need to remove distractions (such as the constant pinging of app alerts and notifications) and give them space to effectively work.”

6. Enjoy the benefits

“Never before have organizations had the ability to tap into global talent pools, devoid of barriers when it comes to mobility, equality, and capacity,” says ISG’s Fisher. “Now through accessing these globally diverse and asynchronous talent pools, organizations can build a truly agile workforce that has win-win work habits for its constituent members who get to work when they are at their best.”

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.