RemoteWorks

3 remote-proof tips to make asynchronous work work

Hint: it's not about the tools.

Pierre Touzeau

Working async is the superpower of distributed organizations, giving people the freedom to work on their own time.

However, a recent study published by Qatalog and Gitlab showed that working async is harder than what we imagined in the first place.

You would think that those working asynchronously would feel the least presenteeism pressure, right? We thought so, but results show quite the opposite: 70% of those who always work async say they feel this pressure (including 68% of C-level executives).

So how to make async work… work?

I’ve been working async for almost 7 years now and here are the 3 tips I often give to people that ask me this question.

1. Set clear goals and key results with your teammates

You feel pressure when you don’t know what is expected from you. When you work remotely, you can’t pretend to work. It’s all about the impact you have in your organization.

To define this, I often use OKRs to clearly define goals and expected outcomes:

  • When you start a new job, make sure your objectives are clear and that you know exactly what is expected from you in 1 month and 3 months.
  • Every quarter, take a step back to assess your OKRs and write new ones. Align with your teammates and key stakeholders to make sure you are all on the same page on what the priorities are. A lack of impact often comes from the fact that what we’re doing is not necessarily aligned with company’s objectives.
  • Try to assess your weekly tasks depending on these OKRs. If you realize you’re spending too much time working on something that is not in your OKRs, there is probably an issue. Either you need to update your OKRs — which also means de-prioritizing something else and have a conversation about it — or stopping what you are doing now.

2. Communicate proactively about your achievements & roadblocks

We tend to think that people don’t care about what we’re doing, except those that we work with on a daily basis. This is wrong. Your teammates are interested in what you’re doing and they also want to understand your roadblocks. We all struggle at achieving some stuff in our to-do and your teammates love to know how they can help. It creates transparency and a sense of belonging as people feel useful one to another.

At Claap, we implemented 2 processes to facilitate that:

  • HPFO (highlights / progress / fires / objectives): every Monday, everyone in the company shares their HPFOs on Slack & Notion (we synced both). This helps give visibility on our work to reinforce trust and empathy. For example, I focus more on go-to-market projects but I’m also interested in knowing that Piotr faced some issues when working on our new Team features.
  • Business Reviews: it’s easier to work everyday when you know what you’re working for. Everyone — especially tech teams — wants to know how the business goes. In order to give full visibility to everyone, we share weekly updates with Claap on the following areas:
  • Product Demos — to present the features that have been launched
  • Product Analytics — to present the product key metrics (new signups, activation rate, etc…)
  • Growth Experiments — we review next growth experiments we want to launch
  • CS & Pipe Review — to update on customers in the pipe, new power accounts and paid clients. This one was actually designed for go-to-market teams but we realized most of the tech team was watching it 🙂

3. Make your decision-making process clear

Working async or/and remotely doesn’t mean working alone. To build successful distributed organizations, you need to manage to create both more autonomy — people need to feel empowered to make decisions — and more alignment at the same time — stakeholders need to be aware of what’s happening and contribute to it.

To make this work, you need to have a clear alignment and decision-making process:

  • DRI: on a project, there is a direct responsible individual (DRI) that is the person in charge of making the final call
  • Feedback: the DRI has to request feedback from key stakeholders to make sure all points of view are taken into account. This is the best way to avoid silos and lose 3 weeks of your work because you didn’t get the full perspective on your project beforehand.
  • Decision: the DRI is the one in charge of making the decisions. Not everyone has to agree but the DRI has been able to make this decision with the full context.

At Claap, we use 2 methods to do that:

  • X-team discussions in Notion: anytime we need to make a decision that involves many stakeholders, we create a discussion in Notion presenting the context and the decision we want to make. Then stakeholders can contribute. We often complement this discussion with a Claap when we need more context & interactions, instead of scheduling a meeting.
  • Claap: many use cases don’t work well with written communication — analytics, product, project alignment, etc… — so we revert to Claap when it’s the case. This part helps you avoid scheduling a meeting as well 🙂

So, to recap:

  1. Set clear goals and key results with your teammates
  2. Communicate proactively about your achievements & roadblocks
  3. Make your decision-making process clear

If you want to see some of these in action, have a look at our playbooks page.