Sitting at a home desk (whether that's study, dining room or kitchen!), just isn't equivalent to sitting at a desk in the office from the hours of nine to five thirty. Life gets in the way - there's always a load of washing to hang out on the line, or in lockdown maybe a child that needs help with maths. Naturally, our working styles have had to flex to fit around our lives.
Worldwide pandemic aside, working at home has magnified other commitments both to our families, our lives and our general wellbeing. We're now building in home schooling, picking up prescriptions for family, walking the dog, as well as fitting in activities such as a mid-morning meditation or purchase of a takeaway coffee.
On top of this is added stress, remote workers have a tendency to feel 'work from home guilt' with the pressure of having to reply to messages instantly to prove they're hard at work.
Now that we're commuting less, research has shown that we're putting in more hours of work, on average 2 per day. This includes taking shorter lunch breaks as well as working through sickness. Sometimes, being stuck at home can blur the lines between work and home life, creating unnecessary anxiety and the inability to 'switch off'.
So what can employers do about it? How do we get the best out of our employees and also preserve their mental wellbeing?
This is where asynchronous working comes in; the assumption is that you can send a message to a colleague without expecting an immediate response. It enables a worker to block out time with no distractions to carry out work at a time of the day to suit them, without being interrupted by notifications and calls which are well-known productivity killers.
For the individual, time is made for leisure activities or family time without stigma and away from a culture of presenteeism. One employee might want to get up at 5, spending couple of hours writing a report before the official work day has begun followed by a run at 10am. Another might need a lie-in until 10 and then will carry on with work into the evening.
Once asynchronous working becomes ingrained in a company, it might lead people to think twice before booking in a pointless meeting. We all know the situation well of having an hour-long meeting which could have been covered off in an email!
Since working asynchronously was introduced at Wealth Wizards, our employees have seen many benefits. They have more time to dedicate to being productive as well as time to devote to their commitments and own wellbeing.
For graphic designer Niki, asynchronous working has helped reduce her stress levels: "As other creatives will know, it is sometimes hard to just flick a switch to turn that artistic spark on to its optimal level 9-5 Monday to Friday. Since we’ve started asynchronous working at Wealth Wizards, I’ve been able to structure my day to where I am most productive and creative as well as having the flexibility to deal with everyday life throughout a “normal” working day. I’ve become not only more productive, but less stressed and my creativity has sky rocketed."
Product manager Jack has found that asynchronous working is good for childcare. “Asynchronous working has enabled me and my wife to balance childcare whilst our 3 year old son Isaac was out of nursery, with the demands of our careers. Whether it is reading a document during an episode of DinoTrux or having the flexibility to shift some of our work days back to a later start time or splitting them up to allow for cover throughout the day, it has supported us in managing our work-life balance much more effectively.”
The possibilities with working asynchronously are numerous; it means companies can recruit a truly global team, working in different time zones but not missing out on the benefits of collaboration.
We have all built up routines and rituals in lockdown to keep us sane; it's obvious that our work day should now adapt to it in order to aid productivity and promote collaborative working. Asynchronous working is a viable possibility and it looks like it is here to stay.