What is asynchronous collaboration? What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous work? And—above all—which one is better?
When we started introducing Claap and the idea behind asynchronous video collaboration, these were some of the questions we got asked. As with any new technology, process, or ritual, we tend to see things in black or white. The good and the bad. The old and the new. Yet, this couldn’t be far from the truth when talking about asynchronous collaboration.
So let’s start with the elephant in the room: meetings. Being async-first does not mean async-only. There is a place for meetings in the workplace and they are definitely needed when working remotely. What we advocate for is to go the async route first and, if needed, then and only then you schedule a meeting or engage in a live chat.
The problem is, the concept of asynchronous vs synchronous work is still a bit abstract and it’s hard for companies and teams to know how and where to start. Even more, they want to make sure cross-team alignment and collaboration is not broken when transitioning to async.
So how can you make the transition to asynchronous collaboration work? Here are five rituals that have been helpful for us at Claap
Every week, all claapers—including software engineers—share their HPFO which stands for Highlight, Priorities, Fire, and Objectives:
☀️ Highlight — share here the best part of your last week, the achievements you’re most proud of!
💡Priorities — list here your top priorities for the week ahead
🔥 Fire — present the topics the issues you faced and the projects where you fell short. This part is helpful to ask for help.
🚦Objectives — Focus on the objectives. Divide them between the ones from the past and the ones for next week. Use a colored dot 🔴 / 🟠 / 🟢 in front of each objective to indicate its status. Mention persons that can be impacted.
This system has been a true game-changer since we implemented it to create more focus and transparency. You can access our template here.
2. Weekly KPI reviews
Also every Monday, each department lead records a claap video to share updates on their main KPIs. For Product, this is a Sprint Review combined with a Product Demo of the latest releases. For Sales, it’s a pipeline review, while Customer Success focus on giving insights on which customers are onboarding, up for renewal, or at risk of churning. In bigger organizations, this can expand to each business unit leader sharing their weekly business review. This is exactly what Revolut did and we wrote a blog post with their use case, you can find it here.
There is a big advantage of doing this review with a claap. Video is powerful to explain things with clarity and because we’re also showing our screen, it’s easy for others to follow the presentation and the dashboards we show. And if there are questions, you can also ask them async, directly on the video, using one of our most loved features: video annotation.
And this is where people ask “wait… but you don’t meet ever? How do you coach and help people if they are underperforming?”. Of course we do. That’s why we said being async-first is not the same as being async-only. Which brings us to idea number 3.
3. Weekly (live) 1/1
Having a regular meeting between managers and direct reports is super important, even for us. Especially for us. And because these meetings happen after reading the HPFO and watching the business review, they are much more productive. Most of the Q&A already happened in the video, so instead of wasting time giving updates, we focus on brainstorming solutions for the most complex problems. So 1/1s for us are not about sharing what we’re working on, but to find solutions to problems and to coach our team when they feel stuck or need help to improve their performance.
4. Bi-weekly all-hands
We still hold all-hands meetings every two weeks, to ensure we all get together from time to time. The main difference from previous companies we worked at, is that the agenda is not filled with each department giving updates on their work. Instead, we use it to align on the company strategy, share go-to-market decisions, or welcome new team members. The topics are never the same, and any important update is shared beforehand so people have time to digest and use the live meeting to ask questions.
And the best part? You can record these meetings with Claap. Perfect to ensure those that couldn’t be there can still be in the loop of what was discussed (and watch it at 1.6x speed 🏎). And don’t worry if you record them directly on your video conferencing platform. You can upload those to Claap too 😉
5. The Claap filter aka “should that be a meeting?”
This is the most important part. Not all meetings are necessary. More than that, some meetings actually make us move slower, be less productive, and increase misalignment. Why?
- To meet you need to find an available slot on everyone’s calendars, so you actually take more time to share your work and get feedback
- Meetings are prone to interruptions, side conversations, and running out of time. How many times did you have to follow-up to actually make a decision or get buy-in for your idea?
- Because of the first two points, many decisions are taken without including everyone that should be heard. So either you make decisions with incomplete data or you have to go back on a decision and start from scratch.
So how can you decide what should be a meeting? Enter the Claap filter.
Before scheduling your next meeting or accepting that invite, ask yourself: what’s the goal here?
If the goal is to get feedback on your work or to give feedback to others, send a claap instead. The speed and quality of the feedback is actually better when done async. For one, you don’t need to wait for the next calendar slot when everyone is available and most of us do a poor job when giving feedback on the spot.
Another example is when you’re presenting a new project or the latest product release. Let everyone watch your claap and add questions directly to the video. Most of the Q&A will happen async and if there is one point that you and your team are not sure how to approach, schedule a short meeting. Not to discuss the whole project—that you did async. But to think about solutions for that one complex point.
Bottom line: send a claap first. If there are points left to discuss, then and only then schedule the meeting. In the end, it’s not a question of one or the other, but the right balance between both.
Other resources to help you transition to async collaboration