Episode 98

Creating a Successful Async Operation

January 18th, 2023


Today I’m chatting all about what async working is and how to create a successful async operation.
We dive into:
  • What exactly is asynchronous working?
  • Async working may not be for everybody
  • Choosing project management tools that work for YOU
  • Different ways to communicate and collect data
  • Empowering people to want to show up

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Episode Transcription


Welcome to Take Control with Nicole, as business owners we experience first hand the fine line between our personal and business lives. During our conversations, we will look at simple hints and tips to create time, reduce overwhelm, and help you to navigate through your journey to where you want to be. If you’re looking for smarter ways to work, and create space and time freedom in your day, then you’re in the right place. All right, let’s go.

Hello, hello, welcome back. How has your week been?

I’m really excited about this one today, this topic of async working has been popping up into my world quite a lot over the last six months, and supporting my fabulous clients on their journey to really empower their teams to be able to be their most fabulous human selves and as a result come to the party in their containers of operations to really love, connect, be human in the way that they operate each and every day, and supports the business to be their very best as well. So what are we talking about. Async working. So if you’re not familiar with this terminology quite yet, I’d love to just give you a little bit of a definition of what it is. So async working, really support your team to work and set their hours, it really helps them to be able to align with their true human selves, and also not to be on the line all the time, and reactive and responsive. Remember, back in corporate land, if you’ve been in that way before, it was an unwritten rule that you would be on online all the time, you would have your phones, I remember back in the day, I had a mobile and a Blackberry, and as soon as that ping happened, it was the responsiveness. It was never written anywhere, or it was said, but it was an unwritten rule that you’re as an employed human, and you’re on a salaried package that you were accessible at all times when needed, right. So async working is the flip side of that. It really supports your business to have a lovely working rhythm that really supports your team to be able to identify the best opportunities, the best places and times of work for them to be able to really connect in and have those creative zones. I know a lot of my clients are in that creative space. So being able to really support your creative humans to interact with the actions and the outputs that you’re looking to deliver for your clients is I’ve seen it work in such a beautiful way. And that’s what async working is, what it’s not is work on demand, people need to show up and be at work for certain times and they must stay until it’s over regardless of what needs to be done. So you’ve also probably experienced that before where you’ve been in a nine to five and maybe you’re a really fast worker, and you’ve got all those actions complete, and you’re just twiddling your thumbs for the last three hours trying not to be looking like you’re not doing anything, you’re just being busy for business sake. So it’s wonderful when you can really decide what do you want to create for your business. Now, I want to preface this that async working may not be for every business type. Now, where I’m thinking is finance, insurance, banking, you know, those sorts of areas where it really is quite reactive and time critical. So in the asset finance world where I used to operate, you know, there’s deals that need to be done, we need to contact banks in certain timeframes, same as mortgage broking, right, so there are specific actions that need to be done by a certain time. However, in the entrepreneurial space in the creative space, you know, we really do have an opportunity here to design our businesses to support the way that we want to design them. So that may be either way, right? So if you’re listening here and go, Nicole is only going to support async working, not the case, it’s really deciding on what your business is going to be and how and what do you need to be successful in operating your business? So if you are however, going to focus on the async working if you are really interested in how can you connect this into your business and support and empower your team to really connect and create a beautiful working rhythm for you and your team and your business, keep on listening because there’s some few tips as we go through here. So yes, tick, we’ve decided we’re going to be an async work organisation how and what do we need to do? Let’s think about how we’re currently working right now. Is there an expectation, or an unwritten rule that when we message on WhatsApp that we need a response straight away? Or is it that we pop it there, we don’t expect your response, but our team feel like they need to respond. So there’s two different things there. So if it’s the latter, if it’s the team instantly responds, it will be now time to have that calibration point and have that conversation about you’re looking to really create an async working environment for your business, and how does that look and feel for them? What do they need to really support them on that journey? Now, what I’ve experienced working in and around some fabulous clients who are dancing in this space beautifully is it’s really led by our leaders of our business to really connect and just live and breathe this async operations each and every day. So when we as business owners connect in with ways of working that we want to encourage our team, it’s a fabulous place to start. Now, if we’re looking at practicality, we want to have a look at the applications and tools that we’re using in our businesses each and every day. What are they? And do they actually support this new way of working? So if we look and focus on project management tools, surprise, surprise, my favourite topic? How are we capturing data? And where are we capturing it? And what are we doing with the information. So project management tools, ClickUp, Asana, Monday, etc. are our fabulous central hubs of information for businesses, what it actually does, especially with a team and an async working team, it is a place to capture the data and capture the communication around a certain action so that when a team member ABCD, all the way to Z, comes in, and it’s time to action, they already have planned that they’re going to be working on Project Z today. And they know that it’s element I that they’re going to be working on. When they open up their ClickUp and they go to that project and that task, all of that information is already there. So they’ve already pre connected as we do where humans we start to think and design especially creatives, thinking design about what we’re going to do, how we’re going to shape it, all of that come in, all the information is there ready to rock and roll. So already as a business, we have supported our team to be successful in working and operating in this async way of working. So choose your project management tool that is going to best suit you now, you know, I love ClickUp, the functionality, the way you can design the task, the visibility, the applications of assigning and all those things is just such a beautiful experience. However, whatever project management tool you are in, you will be able to achieve this by really clever design and understanding your procedures, what and where and how are you actually delivering and actioning those tasks. So that’s a side note. Okay, so our project management tool is going to be the central source of data, our data integrity, our point of truth for all of our actionable outputs for our business for operations or client delivery work. So what happens in between, because that seems a bit stagnant doesn’t really seem like free flowing, or it doesn’t really encourage our communication and our connection of our team async communication and working ways of working is all about connection, and being able to support our humans to be the very best they can in this space and the time that really is aligned with them and the deliverables that you have set for the client work or the internal work that is allocated for them. So to complement your central hub of information, we’d like to add on a communication tool such as Slack, WhatsApp, Voxer, a voice messaging, where you can share gifts and share information and really have that opportunity to deeply connect with our people, you may have experienced a really positive experience of being in a team is where it is one that is connected far past the deliverables of the business. I’ve seen this in so many times the teams that come in and are just focused on output output output can be very successful but if you’re looking to create a business that you’ve got connection and attain that really loves what we’re doing and driving towards those business speaks of goals as we like to call them. Having these external points of connection are really really important. I play in between WhatsApp and Slack kind of sitting on the fence at the moment, WhatsApp I love personally it’s really easy. It feels really intuitive in the way that it’s structured. Slack, you need a little bit more design in the way that you’re approaching it and how you’re going to design it and work within those spaces. There has been some organisations that I’ve worked with where Slack has just gone on in hyperdrive and there’s so many different channels that, you know, when we do need to sort of redesign that, however, designed with intent, the same as project management tool, with any implementation of a new system or a new action or new process. We want to be really clear when we’re designing to design with intent, choose your system.

Hey, there just interrupting this episode to share with you a guide that you are going to want to explore. Are you a ClickUp user at the moment or have you been sitting on the fence and hearing me talk about it each and every week? And just wondering, what is the next step to tech? Well, I created a guide that’s going to support you on your journey to really design your ClickUp spaces, be able to create those and then connect them into the way that your business operates each and every day. My community have told me that this guide has been a game changer in the way that they really look at their ClickUp workspaces, and operate each and every day and you can access it as well. So pop on over to my website, theartisans.com.au/freebies and access the Action Takers Guide to ClickUp. How fabulous that you know, you’re ready to evolve your ClickUp journey, you’re ready to move from where you are right now, to where you have always known you want to be. Reach out, let me know I love to hear all about your journey and ClickUp. So I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The other thing we can do is really hat on enhance that experience. So one of my clients had implemented geek bot and connected that into their Slack tool. Now if you haven’t heard about geek bot, it’s a fun little little connection that or little app that sits within Slack and it actually creates questionnaires or prompts for your team at certain times of the day or the week to help you with this async working. So an example of one of the ways that this has been implemented was there was a geek bot that had a weekly check in, add some questions there that are suitable for your business and what that then would do is flow into if you had a an actual meeting, you could have those dot points or those checkpoints in they actually use this in best practice, not the weekly one, but the monthly one to really set that agenda and the tone for that connection meeting there. Another one is video ask. So having someone’s face I know you’re listening to a podcast right now and I will get into video and on the YouTube at some point. But having a face connected with a voice, it’s just that next level of connection, especially when you are working asyncly so having a think about using a tool on video ask so if you’ve heard of type form video ask is the video version or the sister to type form. So the experience is really beautiful, having a think about where and if you need to use something like that. I mentioned as well back up when we were talking about our project and task management tool, the collection point of information. So this is really a big, important part of supporting your team to feel empowered to work within this space, making sure that you have designed your systems and your processes to collect and contain all of the information that your team will need at the point that they’re ready to execute that particular action. So an example is recently I’ve been building lots and designing lots of logics for fabulous collection points of data for my clients recently. It’s one of my fun things I love to do connecting all the questions what we’re looking to collect information wise, where it’s going to be captured, how it’s going to be captured, who’s going to be working with it, and what is the execution process after that as well. So we’ve used a couple of different tools, but being able to really refine what we’re looking to capture really will help your team to work through this as well.

Okay, the final thing I wanted to talk about in this episode was meetings. So sometimes we feel, I know that when lockdown first happened back in 2020, I felt like I had to be more visible. To be online more we had to be in more meetings. We had to be doing more doing more doing more. I’ve had this feeling as well over the last few years working remotely in a space where I was employed. My arrangement was a fully flexible arrangement. I was working for I think back when I started, say two days a week, fully flexible over the weekend based around what support was required. And also what was actually first and foremost what my family needed. I was a new mum, Sebastian was six months old when I moved to this arrangement. And it was fabulous. It worked beautifully. However, what I did feel is that I had to show up more, I had to be on the emails reactive straightaway, because they did not have an async way of working. They’re in an industry that is very fast paced, and really doesn’t suit and async ways of working, there are very much an internal be in the office nine to five, do stuff, etc. So my arrangement was actually unusual for their ways of working. So I felt I needed to show up more, once you implement this way of working into your business, your connection points will actually be stronger. Once everyone’s connected, and they feel empowered to really be present in their space. One of the ways is we can have our meeting points. Now that’s on Zoom or in person, depending on what your location is for your team for global keeping in mind time zones and being aware of, you know, just because we might have an overlap, that doesn’t mean it has to be overlapped every day, you know, maybe having a dedicated day, or everyone can choose a particular day, depending on how it wants to work for your business just being really intuitive about first humans, do all your humans work late at night, they may not. So being really aware of those things as well. So with our meetings are a couple of things, a couple of ideas that I can pop out here for you today to think about, as you’re moving forward. So we have lots on during our days, what I have seen, especially this year is there’s a trend to, especially in the sort of bigger teams to have more connection points on the line on the zooms. And these meetings, as you know, especially when you’re passionate about what you’re talking about, can run on. So keeping in alignment with, you know, supporting and being human centred, you may have experienced in the past. And I know I have in the corporate space of back to back meetings. And I remember running from room to room to try and make sure we fit it all these things in and then still having to come back and execute and do the work right. So the tool that I spoke about before the geek bot can really help to eliminate some of these maybe unnecessary meetings, or the other one I forgot to mention loom Do you have a loom account? If not, please go and sign up right now. loom is a fabulous video tool that can really give a beautiful snapshot, especially when my capturing or collection and all of that information for tasks. If you have a little loom video that walks through your thoughts and your information that can really again help connect in with that person of execution. So okay, just went off on a tangent, but it was a really important one. Okay, coming back 15 minute meeting timeframes or 25 minute meetings, making sure that we’re allowing 5-10 minutes between each meeting, each appointment gives you a time to actually stand up, stretch and have a dance, get yourself moving. If you remember back to a few episodes, or a number of episodes ago, now Ben was sharing that if you need to stand up and move every five minutes, it could be just the tilt of the head, it could be a shake of the hands, you know, do some jazz hands, get yourself actually moving because it helps helps to regulate and start to get you back and feeling in a really good way. But I was in a meeting the other day and I could feel it getting really heavy. I’m like, okay, stop, stand up. Let’s check it out. Let’s shake it out, shake it out. And afterwards, it was lighter, and really focused and reconnected again. So 15 minute meeting timeframes. Another one, this may not be something that you’ve heard of before, if you have yes, 100%. And I’m gonna do a whole other episode on this walking you through in detail how to do it, how to create this and implemented auto arts agendas. So basically, this is a really simple tool to really lead effective meetings or group conversations, it helps you to really set out the clear purpose of what you’re actually meeting and talking about, and also the structure and the goals right at the beginning. So when everybody enters that Zoom room, they’re really clear on what we’re looking to achieve. Is this a space for just general connection like a team coffee catch up? Or is this a business development update that we’re going through the set agenda points, this is all the information that we need. This is what we’re sharing. This is how it’s going to flow. So this is the expected timeframes. These are your roles and responsibilities. So let me quickly run through what it actually looks like. So basically, we have the acronym okay, it stands for intention, desired outcome, agenda, rules, roles and responsibilities and time. Now, as I said, I’m going to go and record another episode all about auto arts. And so keep an eye out for that one that’s coming out soon. Oh, well, here we go. That’s a lot of information, isn’t it. But take your time, have a think about if this is a way of working that would really suit you and your business and the way that you want to structure your team. If you’re being like big tech, high fives, Nicole sounds fabulous. really create that container for your team to be successful, you know, connect and live really in these ways of async operations. Because if you do that, you’re really going to support your team to feel empowered to join you on that journey.

Okay, here’s a couple of action points for today. If you’ve been listening along, and you’re thinking this could be for you step one is understand and connect with what style of working do you want to create for your business? Is it async? Or is it something else that or is it a hybrid of something? So have a think and thought about that. Once you’ve decided step two, is select the applications that are going to support you and your team to be successful on that journey. And step three, is empower your team to really be a part of this transformation, to really connect in with how this looks and feels for your business and how it actually will support them to be the best humans that they can be. And that they are already. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. This is a really exciting conversation. As I said before, it’s a beautiful refreshing way to look at how you can actually organise your business that can really truly align with the space and the world and the freedom that you are looking to create for yourself, but also for your team. Have a wonderful rest of your day and enjoy creating space and time freedom by now.

Well, there we go. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on board. Have we connected on social jazz? If not, please come on over. Say hi, I’m on all the platforms at the artisan solutions. So I’d really look forward to seeing you over there. And if you enjoy today’s episode, don’t forget to tag me and I’d love it if you could leave a review. And of course, share this with others so others can come and join us next time. All right, that everyone have a fabulous rest of the week and until next time, see you then.


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.