On Asynchronous Communication, A conversation with Amir Salihefendić (S01E07)
Updated: May 29, 2020
The backstory – how Amir came with Doist, what the experience is like for the user
How to balance synchronous and asynchronous communication
Upside and downside of async
Suggestions on adopting async for an organization that is not used to it
Creating a culture and a sense of community in a remote workplace
Moving to a remote environment with a lot of realtime chat combined with meetings all day long creates a nonproductive environment
What Doist promotes internally and enable through its Twist platform is communication that us asynchronous from location. One can send a message and don't expect an answer right away, and internal communication is longer than usual rather than a one-line, to create a calmer, more productive ways of working that enable deep work and deep collaboration (meaningful exchange).
Twist (https://twist.com/) brings the asynchronous nature of email with the traceability of content and conversations found typically in social media platfroms, messenging and chat apps.
With a workforce of 75 people spread around 35 countries, Doist retention in the last 5 years has been over 90%.
Synchronous communication is a lot more addictive and a lot more fun - with its notification and instant gratification. It does not necessarily promote deep work, which is good for the company and the worker.
Synchronous communication is built with "dark patterns" that are optimizing for engagement, hence more time spent interacting with the platform rather than doing meaningful work. It is more profitable, in any sense of the term, to optimize wellbeing and productivity.
Asynchronous communication promotes outcomes and results over presence and busy-ness. You can work 12 hours straight but it does not mean that you are doing a great job; work today is based on creativity and coming up with great solutions to hard problems and not so much on "factory" type of work, where you need to put X amount of hours to get X amount of output.
On the Doist blog "Ambition and Balance", they share the best practices learned, remote work guides--guides they created with other remote-first companies, on topics such as remote hiring, remote project management and an asynchronous communication.
You should not go 100% async. Doist tried this years ago and realized that they still need to have meetings, such as one-on-one meetings with employees. They also meet in real life through team retreats and company-wide retreats. They work roughly 70% asynchronous and 30% synchronous.
Remote, distributed and mostly asynchronous organizations can enjoy a global talent pool of employees grateful for the freedom that they experience. Be careful however to attract and select people who are fundamentelly talented at solving problems rather than people mostlry driven by the flexibility - this should be an added bonus, not the main driver.
Doist blog "Ambition and Balance",