Asynchronous relationships are built all across the internet. Online dating, Instagram-forged friendships, LinkedIn camaraderie.
Everywhere you look, people are getting to know each other and creating connections on their own schedules.
So why aren’t companies taking advantage of asynchronous team building?
Why do they only rely on long-winded virtual happy hours, where not everyone attends or even speaks up?
It’s been well over a decade since remote collaboration digitized the Gantt Chart (which was invented in 1917). Sure, we know how to work online, but we don’t know how to connect.
The lack of real team-building opportunities might be fine for older employees, but it’s making Gen Z feel disconnected and unmentored.
Thankfully, a new breed of remote and hybrid work tools are disrupting the scene and proving that you can’t use Slack and Zoom for everything.
In this guide, we dive into asynch team building and how to do it right.
What is asynchronous team building?
Asynchronous team building is when colleagues are able to have social conversations without needing to communicate at the exact same time. They can send messages, video recordings, and comments on their own schedule.
This is closely related to asynchronous communication, which has long been the style of choice for startups and, since the pandemic, has been better adopted by enterprises as well. Examples of asynch communication include Slack messages, Google Doc comments, and Notion comments.
Asynch communication is essential for distributed teams working across timezones, and it’s also a major time-saver because it can replace unnecessary calls.
Virtual team building is growing
The number of companies investing in virtual team building has risen 2500% since the start of the pandemic, and that’s because collaboration is known to drive workplace performance and innovation.
Asynch team building offers a similar transformation to what asynch communication has done for companies all around the world.
It’s more inclusive of different timezones and communication styles (it can work well for people who aren’t talkative extroverts).
It can be much more efficient (we’re talking a few minutes a day rather than drawn-out weekly happy hours).
It can lead to more trust, mutual understanding, camaraderie, and innovation.
How asynch team building fits in
The world may be open again, but virtual team building isn’t slowing down. Remote and hybrid work are here to stay.
Asynch team building is an important part of an overarching team building strategy.
Here are some of the top benefits:
It can offer immediate access to relationship building for new employees.
It can help people stay connected between events.
It can also improve the success of synchronous team building activities by providing conversation starters and ice breakers.
How to set up asynch team building
If you want to start building relationships across your team at scale, you need to let your team members take the reigns.
Managers can’t be responsible for team building all on their own.
Here’s how to offer the opportunity for asynch team building to everyone.
Step 1. Choose the right tool for the job
Hybrid and remote teams often turn to Slack for asynch team building. They’ll set up a general or water cooler channel and call it a day. But Slack channels don’t work well for team building for a variety of reasons.
Slack is a place for work, not social connections. Particularly for roles that get a ton of incoming messages from team members (we’re looking at you, marketing ops), Slack can be a stressful place. Plus, you’ll often see the same people participating again and again. Those sorts of channels fail to get everyone involved.
The first step is to choose a tool designed for the job.
Enjoyable to use
Encourages both deep conversations (background, working style, etc.) and simple conversations (hobbies, movies, etc.)
Built to increase participation (mobile app, email reminders, etc.)
With Ketchup, everyone answers 1 - 3 questions about themselves every day. These questions cover their personal background, their career background, their working style, and their personal goals and interests.
People can then comment on each others’ responses.
These daily questions offer easy relationship building and tons of insights. We’ll get into those in steps 4 and 5.
Step 2. Invite your team(s)
The next step is to invite everyone to your asynch team building platform. If you have a small company, say less than 20 people, you can add everyone to the same Ketchup team.
But if you work at a larger company, you should break everyone down into smaller teams. For example, you might have the marketing team and the product team.
It’s best not to make the groups too big so that everyone can really get to know each other better over time.
Step 3. Answer questions and get to know each other
With everyone onboarded, it’s time to start answering questions.
It only takes a couple of minutes to answer questions with Ketchup, and people can’t answer more than 3 in a single day.
By answering questions and reviewing their team members’ answers in the feed, people can discover shared experiences and commonalities, book and movie recommendations, summer highlights, and so much more.
Step 4. Deepen your connections
You’ll automatically build up insights over time, based on everyone’s answers.
Users can check their connections for the week, fortnight, or month. You can see who you’ve interacted with directly, and who you haven’t yet:
There’s also a Team Mix dashboard, where everyone can see their team’s average answer. For example, we can see that in this team, there are more introverts than extroverts, but everyone considers themselves in the middle of the spectrum (not entirely on one end of the other).
You can also review the profile of each team member to find out what makes them tick.
Their work user manual with details on how they like to work
Their work experience
Their favorite pastimes
This serves as an excellent resource for managers, new team members, and colleagues that work closely together.
Step 5. Use what you’ve learned for better synchronous conversations
The final step is to put all of this into action.
There are so many ways to use this information:
Stay connected in between meetups.
Spark better ice-breaker conversations at the start of every virtual meeting or in-person standup.
Know what to buy someone as a gift when they go the extra mile or have a work anniversary.
Get inspiration for activities to do during annual retreats.
Start asynch team building today
Whether your team gets together every so often or will probably never meet in person, asynch team building is an essential tool.
Do you want to create an enjoyable place for your team to get to know each other?