Asynchronous Communication: The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive

From The Doist blog:

The trend toward near-constant communication means that the average knowledge worker must organize their workday around multiple meetings, with the time in between spent doing their work half-distractedly with one eye on email and Slack.

I love working remotely because I get to spend more time with family, avoid nasty commute times, get more rest and in a non-pandemic world, spend more time with friends. In addition, I can optimize my day around the rest of my life for the most part to run errands or do things around the house when it makes the most sense to do so.

What I don’t love is being on video calls from 8-5 every day. It leaves no room for any meaningful work outside of business hours, which slowly robs myself and others of their newly-gained additional free time. I think most companies are still trying to recreate all of the ceremonies, processes and expectations of the physical office. What this fails to do is take advantage of the massive productivity gains teams can get from working more asynchronously. If trust levels are high and you work in an environment that’s focused more on results than punching the clock, teams can really crank through work and still maintain a high level of communication.

I recently heard a really interesting episode of Sam Harris’ podcast where he spoke with the founder of Automattic about their history as remote first. There’s a lot of interesting tidbits in there about how companies transition from first trying to replicate their office environment and eventually move towards “enlightenment” – where almost all communication is async and open.

The main tips are to lean into note-taking when you are in meetings to ensure high levels of alignment, handle what you can in slack or email and in higher quality communication than standups in Zoom. On the teams that I work with that have leaned into these practices, I’ve found way more time to focus on making my team better instead of running on the meeting treadmill.

How to destory Programmer Productivity

George Stocker, on How to destroy Programmer Productivity:

Ultimately, each of us controls what makes us unproductive. I suck at peaceful confrontation. I either come of too strongly, or I sit there and let the other person walk all over me. I’m really not good at it at all. As such, I don’t have any good advice for handling the external forces that contribute to not being productive, but I do know this: Whatever I can control, I should control.

This is a constant struggle for any developer – not only the external forces in an office that cause tons of issues, but the personal preferences around how software is set up. Being a morning person, I try to get into the office early and that gets me a long way. But I’m still a mere mortal, so I have to do everything in my power to reduce other distractions.

Keeping my dock hidden on my Mac alone is such a huge boon to my productivity – having an office and the ability to blast music all day goes a long way as well. I’m also super careful about what apps are on my home screen – I keep all social media on the second screen – and which apps can actually send push notifications.