How your team can benefit from asynchronous standup meetings
When thinking about a traditional standup meeting, the first thing that comes to mind for most is standing up with your team (or over Zoom) and going around talking about what you worked on yesterday, what you're going to work on today, and if you have any blockers. This form of standup typically happens at the same time every day and requires all members to be present, and as such, is considered a synchronous standup.
So what is an asynchronous standup? An asynchronous standup is a standup meeting that happens without the need for real-time communication between team members. In other words, team members can report their status for the day at a time that works best for them and doesn't require all team members to be present at the same time.
Let's take a closer look at some benefits of an asynchronous standup:
1. Reduce time spent in meetings
One of the major benefits of an asynchronous standup is it's ability to free up time for the entire team. Let's assume you have a team of 8 with a 30min daily standup every day of the week. Moving to an asynchronous standup saves each team member 2.5 hours every week or 20 hours total for the team. This also doesn't account for off-topic discussions that sometimes occur during standups causing it to run longer than it should.
2. Reduces engineering costs
Similar to time savings, another benefit of an asynchronous standup is the cost saving. Let's continue the example above with a team of 8 with a 30min daily standup every day. Let's also assume an average salary of $100,000 with 40 hours worked per week to make calculations straightforward. The "cost" of running that synchronous standup is roughly $960 per week or $50,000 per year.
(($100,000 / 52 weeks) / 40 hours per week) * 2.5 hours spent in standups per week, per team member
An asynchronous standup that likely takes 5min or less will cost considerably less in terms of engineering time.
3. Cut back on disruptions and context-switching
Another common drawback of a synchronous standup is the disruption and context-switching it'll often cause, much like any other form of meeting. If a developer is in the middle of some heads-down work, having to stop that to attend a meeting can often times be disruptive and require them to switch context, ultimately slowing them down. An asynchronous standup helps alleviate this by allowing them to post their status update at a time that's most convenient for them.
4. Boost team transparency and accountability
An asynchronous standup involves writing down reports and submitting them to a common spot (for example, a Slack channel) as there is no real-time communication. As a result, anyone on the team can reference and read the reports of other members at any time, even after the standup is complete for a given day. This results in a lot more visibility across the team which in turn boosts team transparency and accountability.
5. Support different timezones
With a distributed team, one of the most difficult tasks is finding a meeting time slot that works well for everyone, especially when different timezones are involved. For example, being able to run a standup meeting in the morning may not be possible for every team member if there are multiple timezones spread throughout the team. With that said, an asynchronous standup solves this by allowing each team member to report at a time convenient for them in their own timezone (such as in the morning).
6. Increase team flexibility
Asynchronous standups also helps improve team flexibility. Not every team member necessarily works on the same schedule so finding a convenient standup time is not an easy task. Moving to an asynchronous standup allows you to keep that flexibility for your team as each team member can post their update at a time that accommodates their working schedule.
Bonus: Using Slack to facilitate asynchronous standups
Since asynchronous standups require team members to write down and post their reports in a common spot, you can leverage tools your team is already likely using, such as Slack. There are a number of powerful Slack apps out there that help automate the asynchronous standup process directly within the tool itself.
One such tool is StandupWizard. StandupWizard fully automates the asynchronous standup process by notifying team members on a schedule of your choosing with whatever questions you'd like asked. Once a team member finishes their report, it gets broadcast to a Slack channel of your choosing for others to see and act on, if required.
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