Async Work Is Doing More Things in Parallel but Slower

Working asynchronously is an important reason why remote teams work. However, it can devolve into anti-patterns.

For example, writing a brief and then sharing it for review but not waiting for all feedback will over-emphasize comments by the first to review (an organizational availability bias?). Sometimes the mere presence of other comments in a document is enough to disuade someone from adding their feedback, incorrectly assuming someone else already covered what they would have said.

What can remote teams do about this?

There are a few practices async teams can adopt to avoid these pitfalls.

First-to-review bias can be mitigated by seeking targeted feedback at the same time as sharing it broadly.

For example, in Slack say:

“Here is the brief on {THING AND LINK} for review.

{LIST OF PEOPLE} can you please provide feedback on {LIST OF AREAS ACCEPTABLE FOR FEEDBACK} by {WHEN YOU NEED IT}?”

Organizationally, help people understand that async means more work gets done in parallel but more slowly. It can take time to wait for the right collaborators and to get the right feedback. Asnyc should not be used as a shortcut to speed things up (like accepting the first feedback and moving on as in the earlier example).

(This idea was borrowed from something I heard Alex Norcliffe said.)

See also: