How asynchronous work practices keep passion and purpose alive
How we work dictates the outcomes we produce, how we spend our days and what our health and lifestyle looks like. By aligning ourselves with asynchronous work practices we can maintain passion and purpose in both our work and our lives.
My husband’s been working from home for the past few months due to the lockdown. He’s in his element really and occupies MY office most days. It’s nice to have him home and despite the fact that his workplace fits into the category of pretty traditional, they embraced the idea of working from home, which is incredible to see.
I’ve been a remote worker for some time now. So, moving into contracting from a permanent role, then into lockdown mode didn’t phase me one little bit. I love being able to be flexible and lead a balanced life.
There’s one thing though that has me thinking a bit lately. The idea that we might work remotely, not be in the office, not clock in and clock out …but still be required to be working within a certain timeframe, to be present at certain times. To do chunks of work all in one sitting.
I’m a creative. My mind runs at a zillion miles an hour. I’ve been an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember and the way I work tends to be lead by two things. The first of these is passion. The second, is purpose.
I need to be fully committed to the thing that I’m working on. It has to make sense. It has to serve a purpose. Either within me at some level, or for the greater good somehow. I get a shit load of gratitude from being of service.
The thing I’m working on, or towards needs to not only be purposeful on an intrinsic level, it also has to be purposeful to my life in some way. For instance, aligning with my values.
I also need to be vested. To me this means I need to see that what I’m doing is meaningful. That it has an end goal. That it isn’t mindless or busy work. That I can make a contribution and that my contibution is legitmate and meaningful.
Aligning my work with my passion means that I’m a better worker, and a better human. It serves to line up all the metaphorical ducks in my mind and allows me to work with flow and rhythm.
This is where asynchronous work comes in.
Allowing myself to work, rest and play when I need to means that I’m able to create the life I want by making room for the things in my life that are vital for both my happiness and my health.
Being constrained into a 9-5 schedule… or at the mercy of synchronistic modes of communication mean being misaligned with my purpose and passions. If we are expected to be on everyone else’s schedule how on earth are we able to do our best work?
Remote work is a fabulous way to encourage your teams to try to create a more balanced lifestyle. However, remote work without asynchronous communication is a disaster!
A recent Harvard Business Review study found that traditional workers spent up to 80% of their time engaged in some form of communication with their colleagues! That included email, messaging apps and meetings.
The time spent in collaboration has gone up 50% in the past two decades… AND the real clincher here is that up to a third of REAL VALUE from those collaborations comes from only 3-5% of employees! Yikes! Thats a lot of time and human hours gone to waste.
For me, I’m trying to create a way of working that means I’m engaged and inspired. This means that I do two things. The first is that I work when I’m at my best!
This means I take breaks, I walk the dog, I go to the beach, I make lunch, I go for coffee, I put on the washing, I pick up my kids…. AND I work in between when I’m at my best.
I’m NOT at my best when I have 3 unavoidable appointments in one afternoon that require me to be fully present with one of my children. I am not at my best when I’m tired and frazzled and the housework is mounting up around me. I am not at my best when I’ve been unwell, or I’ve skipped yoga.
I AM however at my best if I feel in control of other areas of my life. If I know that I can drop this very post RIGHT NOW … and make dinner for my hungry teenagers. I am at my best when I work asychonistically. When I chunk up my time. When I flow and create space for all of my life’s most important things. For me – thats my health, my family AND my work.
These things need to be aligned in order for me to be at my best. At my most creative. At my most responsive.
The second, is that I encourage this in all the levels of collaboration that I engage in. I LOVE collaboratiing with others, but, its best done in an asychronOUS manner.
Not expecting an immediate reply to questions or requests. And this goes both ways. I tend to use email, messaging and texting but never assume that the person I’m communicating with is available at the same time as myself.
As your team or business grows, you’ll be adding more and more tools to your stack. Slack is great! as is Zoom! But, these are mainly synchronistic – or at least expected to be. There’s a wholllllleee bunch of Async tools you can incorporate into your workflow that will help you to stay connected, but also allow you to live your most balanced and meaningful life.
I love Trello for project management. I use it for planning and tasking. Its FREE! and makes life SO MUCH EASIER. Pop here to some great Trello example templates.
Google docs is another one of my MOST favourite Async tools to use. You can mark up your work and send it for review and editing to another team member and collab on the doc in your own time. If you’re not using Google docs for document collab yet, you’re seriously missing out!
Forums, discussion boards, messaging, email and social media are all more forms of Async communication and allow us to work and collab on our own terms.
For the life of me I can’t see the point in dragging your teams to a desk from 9-5. I know that people are not at their best when they are forced to work within such strict time frames and environments.
Humans are complex and work best, in my opinion, when given the freedom and environment to be their best! You can only do your most meaningful and purposeful work when you’re allowed to be your best.