5 tips from Uberall's head of product to cut out meetings and engage async
Uberall is a local marketing SaaS company helping brick and mortar businesses take care of their online presence, online reputation, and online social presence through a single tool across various platforms to bring offline traffic.
With over 500 employees located between Europe and the US, the company had to face many challenges when they decided to move from an office-first model to a hybrid one.
So we sat down with Manon Hanquart, Director of Product, to understand more about the challenges they faced and how they managed to implement more asynchronous communication in their processes.
When back-to-back meetings challenges product team happiness and productivity
Like many companies during COVID, Uberall switched from an organization where everyone was working from the office to a “work-from-anywhere” organization.
We still have an office, we still have people going to the headquarters, but now most people are still working from home even if we can go back to the office.
But when launching their internal happiness survey, they realized that these types of organizations come with new challenges that they didn’t expect: back-to-back meetings were killing product team productivity and happiness.
We have the happiness survey at a company level twice a year where people are rating how happy they are and various criteria in regards to their happiness. And then each team is looking into their results. One thing that kept popping up within the product team was too many meetings. The workload was too heavy and too many meetings prevented them from actually focusing on what they believed would deliver value.
Manon was Director of Product Ops at that time so she was in charge of implementing more asynchronous communication in team’s processes to solve this challenge.
5 tips to foster async communication and reduce meeting time
Their journey with async communication started during a team offsite where the focus was put on how to implement async communication.
We brought the podcast host of Remote First Daphne Laforest and she helped us identify how we could bring more asynchronous work into our daily routine. When we decided to establish asynchronous meeting routines, then we decided that Claap would be the tool for us. And so now here we are eight months later, we have reduced the number of meetings that we have.
After a few months of iteration, Manon shares a few advice on the best ways to do it.
Better define scopes and alignment expectations
When they first tried to implement async communication, they looked at the recurring meetings they had and questioned if they could turn them into being asynchronous or not.
While they tried to implement asynchronous processes for 3 out of the 5, they realized that beyond tools, the key was to better define scopes and who had to be aware of what.
We've discovered that asynchronous didn't make some meetings more interesting in terms of the scope. So I think that the issue in the first place was the scope. When you're a 20 person team, you cannot really expect to know what everybody's working on and that's okay. And you don't actually need to spend time learning about what everybody is working on. That was a bit of the discovery that led us to improve some meeting formats.
Move some reviews and meetings fully async
If you work in product teams, design review sessions are one of the most time-consuming meetings and the output you get is often not very actionable: it’s hard to include everyone, feedback is scattered and you often need to organize different sessions to align everyone.
For this, Manon and her team decided to move design reviews fully async with Claap.
This one works very well. This is the one where people are the most engaged. People love the fact that you can easily record their work, have the discussion happening on the side and actually keep track of the discussion as well.
For those feedback sessions, she found the format much more efficient compared to simple video messages or meetings:
I'm watching the video after another person and when I want to ask a question, I can see in the comments that the question was already asked and already answered. So I actually have the recording plus the enrichment through the Q&A that already took place.
Make some meeting hybrid
When implementing asynchronous communication, one might think you need to choose between one format or the other. Something Manon and her team learned is that each format has its unique benefits and moving some meetings hybrid is actually the best way to improve them.
One meeting they had on a recurring basis was Product Learn, a meeting dedicated to sharing best practices.
For this one, they’ve decided to turn it into a hybrid meetings:
When it’s someone from the team, we use Claap to record videos and let people ask questions. When we bring someone from another team, we prefer to keep a live meeting as the purpose is also to have an interaction with them.
Skip meetings with short async videos
Most meetings that take place are actually ad-hoc meetings to answer quick questions or provide feedback.
For this type of meeting, the team found that recording short videos was a very efficient way to skip meetings
When somebody is asking you a question and you want to quickly show them instead of jumping into a call. I would record a claap.
Better document processes
As GitLab articulates well in their famous handbook, you can't do async communication without strong documentation. Synchronous organizations often make decisions in a series of meetings, documenting little to nothing along the way, such that those who come into the process mid-stream are constantly wasting cycles on fact-finding missions.
To better help her team work asynchronously, Manon spends a lot of her time improving and documenting processes. In order to do that, she uses a mix of Confluence and Claap to document and share those processes:
It's very cool to be able to pass a message more personally while being able to do it in your own time. For instance, I am working a lot on documenting processes, and I can spend the entire day doing that. And then at the end of the day, I am recording a video and I can post it. And I don't need to ask people to join a meeting. I don't have to force them. I have written my documentation. I have recorded recorded a video to explain it. Now they have access to the documentation in different formats especially one that is easy to understand and where they can also continue the conversation and interact.
If you’re looking for more best practices on async video collaboration, check out our playbooks here.