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Asynchronous meetings: What they are and how to run them
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Asynchronous meetings: What they are and how to run them

Discover what an asynchronous meeting is, the pros and cons, and how to make async collaboration work for your teams to boost productivity.

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Any seasoned performer will be familiar with stage fright. That feeling of anxiety or nervousness when you’re in the spotlight or performing in front of an audience. 

Similarly, individuals in synchronous meetings may feel pressure to perform, especially in formal settings. They might be worrying about pending tasks, how their ideas will be received, or if they can express themselves clearly—instead of focusing on the meeting. 

Everyone has different communication styles and traditional, synchronous meetings don't work for everyone. Also, calendars full of meetings don’t give teams the flexibility they need to get work done. 

Instead, leaders of highly collaborative teams need to learn how to use more asynchronous meetings and communication—and know when it's appropriate. This lets everyone do more on their own schedule and be more productive.

In this article, you'll learn what an asynchronous meeting is, its pros and cons, and how to make async collaboration work for you. You'll also discover how Switchboard makes teamwork the best part of work, async and in real time. 

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Switchboard's persistent rooms let you move projects forward async and cancel more meetings.
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What is an asynchronous meeting?

An asynchronous meeting is when participants engage in meeting-related activities on their own schedules. Async working doesn't involve real-time interactions or face-to-face meetings, but you can still move work forward without being in the same meeting room at the same time. This lets people prioritize focus work and stay productive. 

For example, using Switchboard, you can create host-free project rooms your team can access during and between meetings. This means anyone can go over agenda points, review feedback, and leave memos or recordings for people to check out on their own time. Working asynchronously like this means work can keep moving throughout the week since you're not waiting on a meeting to make progress.

Switchboard room with sticky notes, memos, and project proposals
Switchboard gives all your key players visibility into project work so they can catch up async. Source: Switchboard

Pros and cons of asynchronous meetings

According to research by Grammarly, people are communicating more—28.8 hours per week, up by nine percent since 2021—but not better. With more and more people experiencing burnout from notification overload, clearly something isn’t working. On the other hand, collaborating asynchronously emphasizes outcomes rather than time spent on each task, or busywork like talking about work rather than doing it.

Let's dive into when asynchronous meetings make sense. 

When do asynchronous meetings make sense?

Async meetings are ideal whenever you don't need immediate feedback or action. Done right, teams can share and review documents, proposals, and other materials on their own time before coming together for focused and purposeful synchronous discussions. 

For example, your product teams can get more out of async code reviews. They simply pull up their Switchboard room populated with GitHub code, their virtual whiteboard, and their task management tool. By taking the time to visually review and annotate code changes, they can foster a more productive and engaging review process.

Here's a framework you can use: 

  • Share materials async—like docs, slides, or code
  • Review it async—add comments or make video walkthroughs
  • Discuss and decide async or together—either converse in comments or meet to talk as a group

When do asynchronous meetings not make sense?

When comparing real time and asynchronous teamwork, it's important to remember that the goal of asynchronous work isn’t to get rid of meetings altogether. Instead, it’s to have fewer, shorter, better meetings

Asynchronous meetings aren't a great fit for when you need to debate sensitive or complex topics, reach consensus, plan, set goals, brainstorm, or build team relationships. When emotions run high or quick back and forth—like building off of each other’s ideas—is important, it’s best to schedule a meeting.

How to change more meetings from synchronous to asynchronous?

Now that you know when asynchronous meetings can benefit your teams, let's take a look at how to do more of them.  

1. Establish clear communication guidelines and processes

Start by outlining tasks that are suitable for asynchronous work based on your needs. This will help guide how and when you and your team communicate. For example, when a product team takes team meetings async, they know to check their Switchboard room for async team and project updates. 

You also need to create documentation that outlines the step-by-step process for common tasks and keep it all in one place. This will serve as a reference guide for team members when working on their own time. Make sure documentation includes detailed instructions, best practices, and any templates or tools that can help in the process. This can help reduce the bottlenecks that come with waiting for the right people to come online to answer your questions. 

Then, clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Make sure everyone understands their contributions to the overall project or task. For this, you’ll need clear communication channels to gather feedback and get everyone aligned. 

2. Know when to cancel a meeting

If you don't cancel unproductive meetings, or end them on time, it creates a lack of trust that can trickle down the organization, which makes meetings even less effective.

Knowing when to make a meeting an email, or how to follow a meeting agenda gives people more time for focused, undisturbed work. This can help make the meetings you do have more productive, and give you more control over your calendar. 

Communication challenges stagnate or worsen rather than getting better on their own, so it's crucial to stay on top of the bad meetings in your schedule and purge them. One way to do this is scheduling a meeting doomsday where you go through your calendar and clear it from all meetings for 48 hours. Then, start repopulating your calendar, but only with valuable meetings that truly move projects forward. 

3. Use the right asynchronous communication tools

There are plenty of tools for asynchronous teamwork that help keep everyone aligned and working toward the same goal. For example: 

  • Asana for project management 
  • Notion for document collaboration
  • Google Workspace for knowledge sharing and storage
  • Mural for creative visual collaboration
  • Figma for design and prototyping
  • GitHub for collaborative software development
  • Switchboard for async-first collaboration

However, it's important not to get tons of different tools—just the right ones. Too many tools that don’t integrate well can make you vulnerable to notification overload and context switching from toggling between different apps and notifications.

Pro tip: Async-first collaboration platforms like Switchboard give everyone access to persistent rooms that save your work. This means you can check async updates and make progress on your own time, and never risk information slipping through the cracks. 
Team project room with Asana and instant chat open
In Switchboard, you can take time to thoroughly review information async before responding—and move work forward meaningfully. Source: Switchboard

4. Train your team members

Part of building the right tech async stack means training your team when and how to use the tools. If email is one of your tools for in-house team collaboration, you need to stipulate when to use it and how to write great emails. For example, for product marketing teams using email to share announcements with internal stakeholders, they might be trained to emphasize clarity and only share essential information.  

71 percent of knowledge workers struggle to find the right balance between sounding formal or too casual. Meanwhile, 63 percent waste time trying to convey the right message—so training them on async communication can mean a significant productivity boost. 

On top of tools, you need to train people on async communication etiquette: when to block time on their calendar, turn off notifications, or how to schedule messages to send later so they don’t disturb someone in focus mode. If you're opting for an async-first work culture, training needs to be provided during onboarding and supporting documents should be accessible in your intranet or knowledge base (more on this below). 

5. Document everything 

Async meetings rely on well-documented, repeatable processes and systems. People need a single source of truth. This also lets teams make progress without having to rely on constant communication for guidance, especially if they’re in different time zones. 

Use document collaboration tools like Notion or Google Drive to create a company intranet or knowledge base everyone can access. Then, open the apps you use in your Switchboard room to keep all your relevant documents organized in one place—and eliminate context switching. 

For example, your design team can connect in real time or move work along async with meeting recordings and voice notes. They can sketch out ideas, review design mockups, and leave memos async. Plus, with Switchboard AI, they can have all their favorite tools talk to each other and quickly summarize all the information from meetings or project work sessions. Instead of wasting time checking agenda points covered in their last async standup, you can simply ask the AI assistant. 

Image of Switchboard AI assistant
Switchboard AI makes it easier to document everything and keep everyone on the same page—improving async meetings. Source: Switchboard

6. Create a culture of collaboration

To build a culture of asynchronous work, you need to get everyone rooting for the same outcome and their collective ability to contribute to the vision. Establishing strong shared values like empathy, trust, accountability, and ownership helps you create a psychologically safe environment people want to be part of. It also acts as a framework for future interactions, so people know there's safety in contributing their opinions and perspectives. 

One of the best ways to get everyone involved and accountable, says Anita Hossain Co-Founder & CEO of The Grand, "is to put a timeline on everything." She adds, "If you don't have a meeting planned but want to collect feedback quickly from your team, you're not going to get the feedback you need without a timeline." This gets easier with clear communication guidelines and processes (see step 1). 

Other things to consider include creating a Slack channel dedicated to team "wins" or playing team-building games and activities. This helps create a community where people have each other's backs and contribute to team efforts. 

7. Don't sweat the small stuff

During async communication, people can default to multi-tasking and think every notification is urgent and needs their immediate attention. Like those infinite Slack threads that keep pulling you in but don't actually go anywhere. 

Not carving out time for focus work can normalize context switching and notification overload as you constantly toggle between tools and messages. To win at async meetings, you need to understand when something's truly time-sensitive versus thinking it's urgent because it’s on Slack or could be answered quickly. Here's how: 

  • Get clear on dependencies. Assess whether someone else’s work depends on you completing yours or providing input. If completing your task is critical for someone else's progress, it warrants more immediate action.
  • Start time blocking. Schedule specific blocks of time for deep work and make it a consistent part of your routine. During these blocks, minimize interruptions and focus solely on tasks that require concentration.
  • Learn from past experiences. Identify patterns of tasks that consistently distract you from deep work. Understanding these patterns can help you proactively address and manage similar situations in the future. 
  • Use a task management tool. This lets you visualize the urgency of each task and make more informed decisions about where to allocate your time.
  • Stay organized. In Switchboard, you can unify your files, people, and tools, and keep them organized by project. This lets you cut out unnecessary context switching and work from one place, async and in real time. 

Asynchronous meetings: Get more control over your days

Just like stage fright can limit people from giving their best performance, real time meetings can also keep your team from doing their best work. 

This is because traditional, synchronous meetings don't always give teams the flexibility they need to get work done—or allow much time for focus work.  

Instead, leaders need to learn how to do asynchronous meetings and communication—and know when to switch between sync and async. This starts by knowing when to cancel a meeting, training your teams, and not sweating the small stuff. You also need to document everything, as well as use the right tools and train your teams in them. This lets everyone work on their own schedule and be more productive. 

With Switchboard as your theater, you get persistent rooms that save your work and make everything multiplayer. This lets you move work forward with fewer meetings and makes the ones you do have more productive. 

Get more control over your schedule—and productivity.
Switchboard's persistent rooms let you move projects forward async and cancel more meetings.
Sign up free


The author would like to express sincere gratitude to Elliot Brown for his invaluable insights and contributions to this article. Brown's expertise in leadership and meeting best practices greatly enriched the content and enhanced the overall quality of work.

Frequently asked questions about asynchronous meetings

What is the difference between asynchronous and synchronous meetings? 

Synchronous meetings are face-to-face or virtual meetings that happen in real-time, and warrant an immediate response. 

Asynchronous meetings let people engage in meeting activities on their own schedules. It's a type of meeting where you don't have to be present in the same meeting room or online at the same time. This means you can check in with everyone async, review meeting notes and meeting agenda items, and follow up when it suits you—without wasting time coordinating schedules. 

Is asynchronous work only for remote teams? 

Asynchronous communication isn't only for remote work. It’s appropriate for any team, whether  they’re in the same office or distributed teams working across different time zones and locations. Working async lets every type of team improve their workflow by responding to messages and moving projects forward at their own pace, while giving them more time for focus work. 

What is the point of asynchronous meetings?

Asynchronous meetings are a great way to get status updates, go over agenda items, and get feedback from your team through video messages or collaborating on documents. They save time by removing the need for in-person meetings to make every decision—making people more productive with their time and future talking points.

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Get more control over your schedule—and productivity.

Switchboard's persistent rooms let you move projects forward async and cancel more meetings.