How to Host Asynchronous “Meetings” with Your Remote Team
As more teams opt for remote work, turning to asynchronous methods of communication can set them up for success, even when they can't connect in real-time.
The work-from-home trend isn’t going away with the pandemic. Upwork predicts that “36.2 million Americans will be working remotely ” by 2025, which is “an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels.” As more teams opt for remote work, they may struggle to regularly host synchronous meetings—especially if employees work across different time zones.
The good news is that your team can still have successful and productive meetings, even when you can’t connect in real-time. Asynchronous meetings—meetings that don’t happen in real-time or result in an immediate response—are becoming more common among distributed and remote teams.
Asynchronous “meetings” generally happen on a specific virtual platform (like Threads, for instance) and can occur within a designated timeframe rather than a specific time. For example, an asynchronous meeting might ask participants to share project status updates or provide feedback on a new company policy by Friday at 5 p.m. ET. These meetings allow remote workers to tackle issues and initiatives collaboratively when it works best for their schedule.
If you’ve never hosted an asynchronous meeting, don’t stress! We’re sharing our top tips for hosting productive asynchronous meetings that will help keep your remote team organized and on track.
Pick a dedicated leader/moderator
Someone needs to be “in charge” of leading the async meeting, just as with an in-person one. Having a leader or someone to kick things off helps keep the meeting organized and on track.
The meeting leader is usually whoever called the meeting, but—the leader can also be an appointed team member. They should complete or delegate important pre-meeting tasks like sending out context, creating prompts, and providing the necessary links or login information to relevant platforms. Once the meeting “starts,” the leader should be the point person for questions and check in frequently to keep conversations aligned with meeting goals.
The meeting leader also handles any post-meeting tasks. These responsibilities might include scheduling follow-up meetings (either async or sync), assigning action items, and summarizing any additional points to team members and stakeholders who didn’t participate.
Schedule and set a response deadline
Typically, an asynchronous meeting’s purpose is to collect responses from attendees—whether that’s gathering feedback on a job candidate or asking employees to share a weekly update on their work progress. Set a deadline for these to keep projects moving forward while still giving attendees the flexibility to respond when it works best for their schedule.
Send out a calendar invite, message, or even a recurring thread, with plenty of advance notice. Just like when scheduling a face-to-face meeting, look for timeframes where attendees’ schedules are open. Avoid days where there are a lot of other project deadlines or key stakeholders are out of office. This coordination will help ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate fully.
When you initiate an async meeting, provide a response deadline for attendees. Don’t expect quick responses—it’s an asynchronous team meeting for a reason. In most cases, a response timeline of about 24 hours works well. When the topic of discussion is more involved, an extended timeframe may be necessary to allow for back-and-forth collaboration. If you need a quick response or decision, opt for a synchronous meeting via phone or Zoom.
Set clear, concise goals for the meeting
Asynchronous or not, meetings that don’t have a purpose are usually a waste of time for everyone involved.
Set one main goal for your async meeting to keep your team on track. Examples of different goals or objectives include solving a specific problem, offering a learning or professional development opportunity, or planning a project or event.
When setting a goal for your async meeting, use the SMART goal framework. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
Say you schedule an async meeting to discuss the company budget for the next year. Your goal for the meeting might be something like “Discuss and sign off on the company budget by 5 p.m. ET on Friday.” You send the request to the head of each department on Wednesday morning. The request includes a link to the budget information for review.
It’s specific because you know what you’re collaborating on—the company budget.
It’s measurable because you’re able to determine if the goal was completed by whether or not the budget has been signed and approved.
It’s achievable because you’ve provided enough time and invited the right stakeholders to review the budget. They can ask questions and propose updates before the Friday deadline.
It’s relevant because it would be difficult for your business to move forward without an approved budget. It’s a key decision that needs to be made.
It’s time-based because you set a clear deadline for respondents and the final decision.
SMART-driven meeting descriptions make the scope of the event clear to attendees, so their discussion is more likely to stay on track.
Utilize async communication tools
An async meeting can only happen if you provide a platform for communicating at different times. Luckily, there are many asynchronous communication tools available on the market.
When choosing a tool, look for technology that is accessible and makes it easy for attendees to share their thoughts. You’ll also want to choose tools based on the type of meeting you’re hosting.
Say it’s an async meeting for employees to learn about a new software. In this case, a video might work well. Prior to the meeting, the presenter can record their computer screen and walk through the various features using Loom, Soapbox, or a similar video platform. Then, they can share the video link in a platform like Threads, so others can watch, respond (with their own video, too), and ask questions on their own time.
Or maybe a manager wants to set up an asynchronous check-in meeting with a direct report. They might share a Typeform survey link where a team member fills out questions about their progress. Both the manager and team member can review the results and discuss on their platform of choice. Or, they could start a “Monthly Check-In” recurring thread, where a new thread gets shared automatically each month for the team member to provide status updates.
Look for tools with features that make asynchronous communication easier—like tagging, response requests, and scheduling features. The technology should keep attendees tuned in without important information getting lost in the shuffle. Searchability is also key so team members can quickly reference past information and narrow down responses.
Host your next asynchronous meeting on Threads
When it comes to asynchronous meetings for distributed teams, Threads is a great tool—if we do say so ourselves.
It has many of the features we noted above—like the ability to tag co-workers, request responses, set response deadlines, send recurring threads, and schedule them, too. And the “Mark as decision” feature comes in handy when you need to see the results of your meeting at a glance.
Threads also makes it easy to see who has read your message and who plans to follow up, so no one gets left out of the conversation. You can also make the discussion private, which is great for 1:1 meetings.