To be asynchronous or not to be asynchronous? That is the question.
This twist on the Bard’s famous words touches on the challenge most managers of remote teams face: how to best engage a team through meaningful programming. Is it best to find ways to be together? Or does it make more sense to plan activities that can be done on someone's free time?
Here we explore the benefits and downfalls of asynchronous versus synchronous events, to help you best serve your team’s needs.
Asynchronous Events 📆
Simply put, asynchronous (async) events don’t occur at the same time.
This is common in online learning–where instructors record lessons for students to complete on their own time. This allows students more than one opportunity to take in the content. And as a bonus they don’t have to rush across campus to make it to class on time.
When it comes to asynchronous events at work, staff are offered activities to do when it suits their schedule. Elements that you can include in an async event are pre-recorded meetings and celebratory messages. There are also opportunities for off-screen activities, like challenges and contests. Examples include fitness challenges (e.g., 5K running club), photo contests (e.g., nature, weekend adventures, holiday decorations), or company picnic (send staff non-perishible foods and picnic swag).
- Time flexibility. Asynchronous events are great for global teams, with employees in different timezones. Everyone on the team can partake in asynchronous activities whenever is most convenient for them. However, it’s good to provide a window of time for these events, like a week to not drag the event on too long.
- Brings balance. Async events accommodate work-life-balance. They allow employees to focus on their work without disruption. Then, when work has been put away and they’re ready to unwind, employees can take the time to enjoy the activity without being distracted by work matters.
- Include friends and loved ones. If you want to enjoy an activity with family, friends, partners, pets, or kids you can do so easily when the activities are set under asynchronous parameters. Share the fun times with the ones you love the most.
- Miss out on interactions. The main pitfall of asynchronous events is participants miss out on real-time employee interactions. Employees are not in a shared space–whether in-peron or on a video call. This is a missed opportunity for team bonding.
- Lack of participation. Since employees participate on their own time, they may not feel motivated to go through with the event. Resources and prep-time are then wasted.
Synchronous Events ⏰
On the other hand, a synchronous event occurs when all attendees participate at the same time.
Synchronous events are the more traditional kind of work event. Your team shows up to a shared space and interacts together during a determined time frame. For remote and hybrid teams synchronous events can be held in the virtual space on video calls through platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.
- Increases interactions. With so many people working remotely, virtual synchronous events are great for bringing employees together. Synchronous events foster team bonding, through interactive activities like games and discussions.
- Company culture. Hosting fun synchronous events like trivia, virtual concerts, and movie viewing can make employees excited to be part of your organization! And activities for Ethical Resource Groups (ERGs) make your company a better place for communities amongst your staff.
- Schedule conflicts. It’s hard to find a day and time to accommodate everyone’s schedules, especially in the case of global teams with employees in different timezones.
- FOMO. If someone can’t attend a staff function, for whatever reason, they may experience FOMO (fear of missing out) at work. This phenomenon can make people feel disconnected and left out of new information.
With many employees working remotely or in a hybrid-model, deciding between synchronous and asynchronous events can be challenging. Ultimately, both types of events have their pros and cons. Weigh your options, maybe try both, and see what works best for your team.
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