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Welcome to the new era of async-first collaboration

Switchboard is officially out of beta 🎉

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Switchboard launched May 2022 to help you have better meetings. And while better meetings are still important, what we learned is that fewer meetings is what we all desperately need. When we have fewer meetings, we have more time for focused work and more control over how we work.

Meetings have been a forcing function to get people to pay attention. Whether we need to share ideas, get feedback, or make a decision, our default has been to schedule a meeting (or start an endless conversation on Slack).

That changes starting today with Switchboard’s shifted focus to async-first collaboration.

The era of async-first collaboration

Async-first collaboration is about prioritizing progress over face time. It is the deliberate practice of reducing unnecessary meetings so everyone has more time for deep focus. Not just any work, but work that benefits from being done on your own time: pre-reads, one-way presentations, reviews, feedback. The type of work that benefits from thought and reflection and that meetings often get in the way of that.

It sounds counterintuitive but research supports that having fewer meetings actually benefits company culture. Many of us are starting to work this way already. We send pre-recorded video walk-throughs, give feedback in a Google Doc, and yes, sometimes we even send an email instead of scheduling a meeting.

The challenge? Our asynchronous work tends to operate in silos. We comment in one app, ask questions in another, and wade through tabs and messages to find what we’re looking for. We’re expected to draw connections and make sure everyone is on the same page even though our “pages” are all over the place. No wonder so many people default to meetings even though they wish they didn’t.

But to be clear, all work shouldn’t – and can’t – be asynchronous. Async-first collaboration is not permission to go rogue or to never see your coworkers ever again. The intent is to enable people to do their best work because it gives everyone more time to think, reflect, and respond. And to come to meetings more prepared.

Here’s how to make the shift to async-first work

Where should you start? You don’t need to cancel every meeting on your calendar. Here are five meetings and tasks that are easy to do async:

  • Status updates
  • Feedback requests
  • Presenting documents
  • Metrics reporting
  • Creative reviews

If the time you’re in a meeting doesn’t benefit from real-time back and forth, then you can shift some of that work to outside the meeting. Then all of a sudden, your hour-long meetings become 15 minutes… or they get canceled entirely.

Any team—or company—can become async-first

But again, this is not about being an autonomous robot. Humans thrive on connection, relationships, and conversation. And we’ll value our co-workers even more when the time we do spend together is meaningful and productive.

The beautiful thing about this new way of working is that anyone can experience the benefits of async-first collaboration. Whether you sit in an office, work at home, or both, fewer meetings means more time on your calendar to do your best work.

It's time to embrace the transformative shift from a meeting-centric culture to an async-first culture. One that stays focused on doing the work rather than getting caught up in endless discussions. Because this is how we’ll all make teamwork the best part of work.

Stop, collaborate, and listen

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