Why working at the same time is no longer of this era

Another day running from meeting to meeting. Another day when you are continuously disturbed by stimuli from passing colleagues and incoming emails. Another day when you have been guided by your agenda. And then there was also a pandemic around the corner. We have moved our physical work to a digital environment, which has been successful in many aspects. But the stimuli have not diminished. The large flow of Teams, Slack or Skype messages and the many video calls that also run out of time digitally consume much of our time.

Recognizable? With you probably for many others. This can be done differently; by working independently of time and place. It is time to take the step from physical to digital to the next level: working asynchronously. But before taking that step, let us first take a step back into the past.

Where does the 9 to 5 works actually come from?

Many of the habits we have stem from a distant past. This also applies to our working days. Before and around 1800 we all worked at home. We plowed our land and fed our animals. We worked at times when it was convenient for us or at the times that our farms needed it. This changed with the advent of the industrial revolution. The first industry was build with accompanied larger villages to house workers. We worked together on a production line, which would only work if we were all on it at the same time. They searched for the best time to expect everyone at work, which is when the 9 to 5 times and the Monday to Friday working week arose.

‘Backward looking’ habits

But that was at the time when we had no digital means of communication. We had to be physically together to get the job done. With the current resources at our disposal, office hours can safely be called “backward looking”; based on a past habit without regard to the possibilities of today.

Another good example of ‘backward looking’ habits are the school holidays. Two months off when parents have to do anything they can to keep the children entertained all this time, which is at the expense of the (production) economy in the summer months. Why are we so used to it? The summer holidays as we know them have been around since 1830. In the summer, children had to help with the harvest on their parents’ land, the school schedule is arranged to this. Nicholas Bloom talks about it animatedly in his TEDx Talk.

(A)synchronous consideration

We don’t work either synchronously or asynchronously these days, often it’s a combination of both. As Strategiemakers, we have illustrated the considerations and steps you can take as an organization in this balance below. The higher on the scale, the more ‘meeting-less’ time there is, and the more freedom can be offered to work remotely. We are already experimenting ourselves to get to higher layers with, for example, a digital stand-up chatbot¬†instead of our physical stand-ups, recording update calls for watching at a moment of our own, and by working with threads in our communication tool, so that everyone has time to take in the content and formulate their own opinion. We will of course devote time and attention to this in the coming blogs.

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(A)synchronous working in 6 equations

Again, it is a balance between synchronous and asynchronous. To give an impression of what that looks like, we have drawn a comparison on 6 topics. Think of it as a kind of Agile manifesto. Both sides of the spectrum have value. Almost all companies use a largely synchronous way of working, but in many cases more benefits can be gained from the side of asynchronous working.

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Advantagesof (more) asynchronous working

In addition to the obvious advantage of a positive impact on our earth through less commuting, both employees and employers benefit from (more) asynchronous working (researched by researchers from the Harvard Business School, among others). We’ll go into that in our next blogs, but here’s a sneak peek:

For the employer

  • Reduction of office space costs
  • Reduction of travel costs
  • Larger pool of potential employees (less location bound)
  • Higher employee productivity

For the employee

  • More autonomy in organizing your own working hours
  • Better work / life balance possible
  • More time for “deep” work
  • More freedom and thus more (work) happiness

The best results can be achieved when the employee can, to a certain extent, make a choice in where and when he or she works. In addition to the best results for the employer, this autonomy also produces the most happiness for the employee. Daniel Pink has written extensively about this in his book Drive.

Do also you want to make the shift?

Curious about what asynchronous working can mean for your organization? And what benefits it can bring in your specific context? We like to think along with you! Call or email us and keep a close eye on our next blogs.