Does this need to be a meeting? image
Collaboration

Does this need to be a meeting? The new rules of engagement for collaboration

How to decide when it’s best to use synchronous vs. asynchronous collaboration styles

By the team at SlackSeptember 13th, 2022Illustration by Francesco Ciccolella

With 94% of surveyed knowledge workers wanting increased schedule flexibility, the old way of collaborating by filling calendars with meetings isn’t supportable. The evidence is clear: A culture that is entirely dependent on meetings to collaborate leads to burnout and low morale. But don’t clear out 2022’s calendar just yet.

A purposeful, engaging meeting can be incredibly valuable. But how do you know when scheduling a meeting is the best choice?

Below, we’ve outlined recommendations on when to use synchronous (i.e. scheduled meeting) or asynchronous (Slack message, audio clip or video clip) collaboration to do your best work.

When a meeting makes sense

When to schedule a meeting image

A meeting is your company’s most expensive means of collaboration and should be used with intention.

As always, our incredible customers say it best: “[For meetings], we told everyone to focus on the three D’s: discuss, debate and decide. If you’re not doing that, then there’s probably no need for the meeting.”

If you’re giving a performance review, discussing a nuanced topic or deciding on something where context matters, a meeting is likely your best bet. The key is to not default to a meeting without considering if other options might actually improve both performance and efficiency.

When asynchronous works best

 

There are plenty of cases when a meeting might not be the most effective option. Whether you’re looking for feedback, crowdsourcing ideas or deciding between “this or that” options, topics with clear outcomes and next steps are ideally suited for asynchronous collaboration.

Truly, our eyes swell with happiness when a project begins with concise, action-orientated messages that @ individuals with requests and proceed with reacji to communicate progress.

Another appropriate time to go the asynchronous route is to cascade information. Whether it’s a company town hall, a share-out from leadership or a brief status update on a project, when the aim is to distribute information (with no need to discuss, debate or decide), try relaying the message using channels or clips to share audio or video. This promotes flexibility, enabling your team to tune in when they have a free moment, while eliminating the hassle of coordinating calendars—something that’s particularly painful for globally distributed teams.

Knowing when to flip the collaborative script

The best approach to collaboration is intentional flexibility. If you are starting a complex project, schedule a meeting to discuss context, assign actions and owners. Afterward, leverage Slack to move forward with transparency, clarity and flexibility.

Similarly, if a project initially appears straightforward but stumbles because a complex debate is required, meet in a Slack huddle to get back on track.

In this pursuit of flexibility and performance, it’s key to use the collaboration method that best suits the team’s needs at that time. Most of your company’s collaboration can be fully asynchronous—saving time and improving your team’s performance and schedule flexibility.

Managing projects in Slack reduces meetings too

Regardless of your team’s collaboration style, reduce meetings by managing projects in a simple, engaging and incredibly productive way by moving your project into its new favorite home on Channel way.

Get started with asynchronous collaboration

Now that you have a sense of when to collaborate asynchronously, be sure to set team-level agreements and digital norms and try these asynchronous experimentation ideas.

If you’d like to discuss this information with your team, access this customizable Block Kit template, and then navigate to the top right of your browser, select a channel (or DM to yourself as a test) from the drop-down, and click ‘Send to Slack.’

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