Why Asynchronous Videos Are Better Than Video Meetings
Better productivity is often touted as one of the key advantages of remote work. By getting rid of long commutes to the office, people working from home can manage their time better. But remote work hasn't erased all of the ways employees waste time on the job, and video meetings are at the top of the list.
Most — if not all — meetings in a remote workplace occur via video, and employees have grown so weary of them that the phenomenon of Zoom fatigue has entered our vernacular. Video meetings can be difficult to organize with team members scattered across time zones. They can sometimes be even harder to sit through, particularly for those employees who have multiple meetings per day.
Asynchronous video could be a way to avoid the challenges of organizing and executing video meetings. In fact, working asynchronously has proven to be a popular way to get things done, with 52% of respondents in a Buffer survey indicating that asynchronous-first policies should be the norm moving forward.
What Is Asynchronous Video?
When asked to attend a meeting, most of us begin by checking our calendars to find availabilities. Asynchronous video changes this by recording a video for distribution instead.
"An asynchronous video meeting is a meeting that one gets to watch on their own time," said Humphrey Chen, founder and CEO of Kirkland, Wash.-based CLIPr. Having a recorded video allows people to watch it when it's more convenient for them, rather than having to make themselves available at a specific time.
Nowadays, most organizations are aware of the threat of Zoom fatigue, and many have, for that reason, turned to alternative methods to avoid having to undergo unnecessary meetings. Richard Mabey, CEO and co-founder at legal tech company Clerkenwell, UK-based Juro, said following this approach has meant adopting an asynchronous method of providing updates.
"Sometimes these are messages in Slack, and where a lot of context is required, these are communicated in Loom, which we've used since way before the pandemic," he said. One way companies are using asynchronous video is by sending essential updates ahead of time and then spending meetings solving problems.
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3 Benefits of Asynchronous Video Meetings
Opting for asynchronous video meetings instead of having them in real-time can provide several benefits, including:
- Productivity: Productivity increases when using video recordings in place of meetings because employees don't have to worry about back-to-back meetings and can instead focus their time on deep work.
- Flexibility: Employees can focus on getting work done, rather than having to organize their time around meetings. "A major benefit of asynchronous video meetings is providing employees the flexibility to view this content on their own terms wherever and whenever to avoid work interruption during core business hours," said Chen.
- Reduced Burnout: Back-to-back meetings can harm productivity, but they can also lead to burnout. In turn, burnout can have its own adverse effects on employees, increasing their stress, reducing focus and more. Asynchronous video can alleviate some of these issues.
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3 Drawbacks of Asynchronous Video
Even though asynchronous video has great benefits, it can't replace meetings entirely. There are drawbacks to keep in mind:
- Urgency Is Reduced: "If there's a drawback, it's that quick communication on urgent matters may be tougher to do because of potential time differences," said Kenzo Fong, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Rock. There are certain instances where team members need to meet and bounce ideas off each other, and a live video meeting is a better way to achieve that.
- No Real-time Feedback: Real-time meetings provide an opportunity for feedback and discussion. If someone doesn't understand something they need to do, they can get immediate clarity during a video meeting — something they can't get from a recording. "The lack of real-time feedback from meeting participants is a problem because if the purpose of a meeting is to collaborate, then asynchronous meetings will not be very helpful," said Chen.
- Less Unstructured Conversations: Unstructured conversations that get started during or even after a live meeting are important for organizational culture and discussion. "Pre-recorded videos make it hard to have 'unstructured' conversations with colleagues," said Mabey, who suggests carving out off-sites so that team members can find time to collaborate to boost creativity.
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Tips for Implementing an Asynchronous System
Asynchronous work — and, subsequently, asynchronous video — is an excellent option for hybrid and remote organizations. Here are two key steps to implementing an asynchronous system that works:
Find the Balance
"I believe that the optimal communication strategy for a remote and hybrid workforce is to find a good balance of asynchronous videos, real-time Zoom meetings and in-person meetings," said Mabey. With the number of options hybrid teams have available to them, variety can ensure that the correct system is used at the right time and that employees don't get tired of one communication method.
Employees might not know when the time's right to have an asynchronous meeting and when a live one is warranted. Setting expectations and policies about how to go about this can help everyone remain productive and allow organizations to reap the benefits of asynchronous video.
"To truly succeed, we need to reevaluate how we spend our time working and which asynchronous tools we make available to our employees," said Fong.