Asynchronous communication

In the presentation ‘Why Work Does Not Get Done At Work’, Jason mentioned that meetings are toxic. But why? Well, they’re toxic because they require all members to be present at the same time.

What this means is that people need to plan their day around meeting schedules. If we work this way then at the end of the day we would have accomplished very little in terms of real work even though we were busy the whole day.

Joel Spoksky has written Human Task Switches Considered Harmful highlighting this aspect in much more detail.

Question is are all those synchronous communications really needed? We want to push asynchronous communication all the way and would like to resort to synchronous communication only as the last option.

For example, if Mary is working on a problem and wants John to review the code sometime in the next few hours (ie, not a pressing problem) she doesn’t need to interrupt John’s workflow. He can do the pull request review in his own time, as long as it is done on schedule.

Zach Holman of GitHub describes their asynchronous workflow in this presentation. You can check out the slideshow of the presentation here.

This kind of asynchronous communication maximizes the thought zone time of every member on the team, thus maximizing the productivity of the organization as a whole.