Traditionally, communication and collaboration in teams have always been predominantly in-the-moment – think meetings, calls, training sessions, even in today’s way of working where nearly everything can be done remotely. These are typically synchronous methods of communication and working, as they tend to require all participants to be present and participating at the same time – in sync.

We know the benefits – securing everyone’s availability to come together aims to offer quick, collective decision-making and active questioning. It also ensures that everyone receives the same level of information, training, or context and feels more personal, with each participant prioritising their time to be in the same session as you.

As teams grow though, the traditional sync methods can become more tricky – more moving parts become difficult to coordinate and the financial and time costs of pinning everyone to a set time quickly begin to mount.

In more recent years, there’s been a huge rise in promoting asynchronous (async from here on in) working, giving more autonomy to each person in your team, and allowing each to communicate on their terms when it is most suitable and relevant to them. In theory, async communication isn’t new (email and text messaging are primary examples, so the same can be said for text-based messaging in WhatsApp, Slack, and Teams) but only in the last few years, with the rise of remote working, has more emphasis and investment gone into adopting it beyond the already well established and entrenched tools.

Where some businesses choose to now operate solely async, this can be a difficult or impractical transition for many – particularly where teams, tools, and processes are already well established. In this case, a hybrid approach of sync and async serves as a good blend. We’ve coined it as (a)sync.

Let’s look at some of the more common synchronous events in a team and how they can be moved towards a true async or hybrid approach.

Internal Meetings

Shopify, the remote-first eCommerce platform, hit the headlines at the start of this year with their revised approach to meetings, introducing new policies where recurring events of more than 3 people were automatically cancelled and that Wednesday was ‘no meeting day’, which 85% of staff were able to adopt within 6 weeks.

Whilst this is to some a little extreme, we’ve all been in meetings and thought ‘this could have been an email’. Whilst Shopify’s action in itself isn’t async, it encourages leaders to introduce, and team members to use, new async methods for internal meetings.

This is an opportunity to use collaborative tools like Google Docs to their true potential, or Notion for those looking for something more comprehensive. Provide meeting material in advance, including any pre-recorded presentations and agenda of key discussion points and the aims of the meeting. Importantly, set a time for which initial reading and any responses are required.

From there, people can contribute in their own time within the constraints of a deadline. Once the deadline passes, collate a summary and include it as a final document, with action points and comments for how next steps.

If it feels particularly difficult to orchestrate a meeting async, this tends to highlight that the meeting doesn’t have a clear purpose and wouldn’t be the most effective use of collective time at this stage.

The async setup can be applied to discovery meetings, team retrospectives, and much more.


Traditional training has always been synchronous, but how many times have you needed to learn how to do something and found yourself trawling through the likes of StackOverflow or YouTube for guidance?

The concept of create once, distribute forever (or at least the foreseeable) applies to any training content that your team creates. This can be as simple as still delivering training in-person or over video (in sync), but recording the session and housing it in an intranet or Google Drive for others to go back to at any point (async).

Businesses looking to take one step further can use tools like Loom to create walkthrough guides, tutorials, and full training videos that are recorded and made available for your team to access at any point, removing the need for in-person delivery. As time progresses, you begin to build an internal library of training content relevant to the context of your business. This also allows for multiple recordings and editing, so you can create curated video content ideal for your team.

Project Management

Many teams already use tools like Asana, Monday, or Linear for project management. By nature, all of these tools operate async – they are a shared space for outlining tasks and objectives that a person manages and updates at any preferred time, with Linear supporting async particularly well.

As well as allowing engineering teams and product managers to oversee and control tasks (dubbed ‘issues’ in Linear terminology), each item can be a part of a project, which certain users and entire teams can access. The Linear method means that users create and are responsible for their tasks in an environment where everyone related to the project has oversight of them.

Beyond that, the Linear tool allows for ‘Project Updates’, where team members can provide a short update on the overall progress of a project and tag it as either ‘on track’, ‘at risk’ or ‘off track’. This setup means that updates can be posted as soon as they’re ready with relevant team members receiving a notification, they can then read the update as they use the tool in their own time.

By no means does this replace a team retrospective (another common sync event in technology teams, which can be moved to async when set up correctly), but it is another step towards keeping your team informed on their own terms through async.