Finding Balance Between Async Workflows and Social Bonding
"My remote team was exhausted with meetings.
So we implemented async workflows to replace most of those meetings.
Now I feel a lack of social bonding in the team. What can we do better?"
A fellow CTO asked me over DMs last week.
Tips for Making Async Workflows and Social Bonding Work Hand in Hand
- Be prepared to see colleagues less when you go more async.
- Cut down any unnecessary meetings.
- Foster social activities like hobbie fridays, lunch hours, etc.
How To Tie Together Async Workflows and Social Bonding
After years of experience managing remote teams, here's what I replied to the fellow CTO.
Social bonding is a common challenge in remote teams.
The more async you go, the less you'll see your colleagues face to face. That's a tradeoff to make.
It's important to be intentional in nurturing the type of culture you want to see in your teams.
This recent thread describes what I did in the last company I co-founded. Most of us never met each other in person during that tenure (due to lockdowns) and we had great friendships created in the team.
While that team felt very socially bonded, many employees reported burnout, exhaustion, and lack of time to have lunch.
Most teams still had too many meetings and we worked hard to reduce those by making some workflows async.
Meetings + diff time zones is a hard equation!!
Async Workflows and Social Bonding
As teams go more async and ditch meetings, almost totally you get a team that feels more "freelance-y", with interactions that feel more transactional.
In fully async, it is very challenging to build social bonding. You need to foster some of those social activities, retreats, etc.
Gumroad is a fully async company, with a team of 100+ people spread across the globe. There, everyone is a contractor and part-time.
In their wiki, they document as a "Not so good" thing the fact that there isn't much socialization.
I'm not an Async maximalist myself. I call my workflows "Async-by-default".
What it means:
- Zero scheduled internal meetings
- Workflows are async
- Exceptions may require work meetings for collaborative discussion
- Social bonds are built over social meetings and retreats
An example of such an async workflow in my teams is planning new features for development.
It used to cost my teams a huge amount of meeting time, and now it's fully async for 80% of the new features, and partially async for the remaining 20%.
I'm launching the course "Mastering Remote Work" soon. I'll dive into the trade-offs between async-first processes and social bonding I learned from managing remote teams around the globe.
Join the waitlist for early access and a 30% discount!
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