The past two years’ transition to remote and hybrid work has forever changed the workplace. Work is increasingly distributed — to meet new demands to attract talent, enterprises are offering flexible schedules. This equates to more variance in the overlapping hours between us and our teammates, due to time zones and personal responsibilities.
As the future of the workplace evolves, the “that meeting could have been an email” sentiment has become widely used — and for good reason. The current working conditions aren’t sustainable. We spend too long on video calls, with little time left over to get our actual work done.
Collaboration needs to be less about getting on hour-long calls and more about using provided tools, like Slack and other communication platforms, to work together at a distance.
Moving forward, it’s becoming more and more clear that the success of a remote or hybrid workplace relies on asynchronous communication.
What is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication is when employees work when they are available, as opposed to synchronous communication which is done simultaneously, in real-time.
Many companies do asynchronous work when they use Google Docs to collaborate, email different edits of a slide deck, or send assignment briefs for others to work on when they are available to do so. It’s the collaboration that happens outside of meetings, and much more of it happens today than it did when most people worked together in an office.
Asynchronous collaboration requires a lot of self-serve knowledge, meaning we have to rely on what’s been left behind by our co-workers in places like Slack, Asana, Click Up, email, Google Docs, and other communication tools to pick up when we’re ready.
This is becoming the norm in our current environment, and unless we stop working remotely altogether, it won’t be going away anytime soon.
Benefits of Asynchronous Communication
There are some companies and managers that have reservations about fully embracing remote or hybrid work culture. This is understandable, as many organizations went from fully in-person to fully remote overnight, and they simply weren’t prepared to do it effectively.
However, rather than throwing away the idea of remote and hybrid work altogether, it’s important to consider changing how we do remote work.
While some synchronous work remains important — for example, when there’s urgency around a project or need for an immediate response — there are many benefits to asynchronous work that suggest it should be embraced within our organizations.
The ability for employees to work on their own time allows for more focused, deep work. Oftentimes this leads to better decision-making, clearer communication, and more productivity due to the time we’re allowed to reflect, rest, or brainstorm solutions.
It also promotes work-life balance for employees, which can improve productivity and increase employee engagement and retention. Asynchronous work can also instill a greater sense of ownership of the work we put in and promote a greater sense of trust between coworkers.
The Importance of Access to Self-Service Knowledge
Empowering employees to work when they’re available can help optimize workflows and enable organizations to reach their goals faster. The key is preparation: implementing the right tools that will make knowledge available for employees across the organization at any given time.
Working at different hours of the day means the people we need to communicate with aren’t always available. This means it’s vital to provide everyone with better access to self-service knowledge. If we can efficiently find what we need by ourselves, then we can keep projects moving forward while others are away, rather than waiting for a meeting to take place. This allows individuals to contribute to projects during their working hours — whether their team members are available or not.
Better self-service access can also increase employee satisfaction. If knowledge is more readily available, employees spend less time chasing down answers, and more time actually working. This not only supports their proficiency growth, but it also frees up their time and supports a healthier work-life balance.
Effective Knowledge Management in the Digital Workplace
Self-service knowledge only becomes available to employees when there is an effective knowledge management system. The first step to creating an effective knowledge management system is capturing knowledge. Doing this across an organization can be challenging, but there are evolving AI tools that can help improve knowledge management by extracting unstructured data and pulling it together to become retrievable.
With today’s advancements in machine learning, AI can easily bring knowledge together and simplify knowledge discovery. This requires creating an intelligent connection between project management tools, intranet portals, and other knowledge hubs within our organizations to allow for knowledge sharing across teams. Only then can self-service knowledge truly become accessible for all and allow for successful asynchronous communication.
However, in order for these tools to do their job, there needs to be a top-down commitment to creating a knowledge-sharing culture — which includes digitally documenting processes and moving any information that lives on paper into the digital space. Then, organizations must become accustomed to seeking out the information in the digital spaces provided rather than hopping on a call with a coworker to transfer knowledge.
This kind of commitment means more time spent in tools like Slack, which increases the need for knowledge to be retrievable in these siloed platforms.
Support Asynchronous Communication by Indexing Knowledge Inside Slack
As we continue to move toward a more asynchronous workplace, it will be important to optimize the digital channels our organization currently uses.
If your organization uses Slack — like over 40% of fortune 100 businesses do — there’s an increasing need to facilitate better collaboration by serving knowledge within these conversational tools to make it easily retrievable and shareable within channels and conversations.
Rather than expecting everyone to dig through conversations to find necessary information, Coveo Slack Connector makes it easy to find and share knowledge across the platform.