There are absolutely challenging anti-patterns in the remote work world, but I have yet to see actual concrete suggestions for how to deal with them. No, "nohello.com" is not an actually useful suggestion (ignoring the fact that I fundamentally disagree with the premise). Just complaining about ad hoc meetings doesn't solve for the occasional need for quick discussions that, in a textual medium, would drag out or lead to misunderstandings.
"Be more asynchronous" denies the reality that some work is synchronous. If I need something from you, I have to wait until you give me what I need. Development is a team sport, despite what the stereotypes would have you believe.
I'd love to see how "remote native" companies are doing this, but according to the author, they just devolve to this state, too.
"Be more asynchronous" is advocated to swing the pendulum, see what sticks and see what doesn't. It's not meant to be "throw the baby out with the bathwater", which most seem to kneejerk to.
Right now, the problem is a lack of evidence on a long term (1-2 generations), with a status quo unwilling to try anything despite a promising two year event. You don't make conclusions without evidence.
>If I need something from you, I have to wait until you give me what I need.
The far majority of cases, you'd have another task to work on before syncing up because most coworkers don't appreciate being disturbed when they are working on something important either. Now replace syncing up with sending them a message, and they respond at their disposal.
Either way someone is going to lose out on their individual work and it depends entirely on the context who's going to lose out more, and which choice would have helped the team get more work done.
>Development is a team sport, despite what the stereotypes would have you believe.
Which doesn't at all say anything about "sync vs async". Surely we don't have to point at the dozens of "tap on your shoulder manager" anecdotes to showcase being in person, in the office, allows for just as much solipsism.
I'm very curious where you got this idea because it certainly doesn't reflect reality.
As others have pointed out, working across multiple timezones/geographies has requires asynchronous work for decades, now, and anyone who does it will tell you have enormously painful it can be.
> The far majority of cases, you'd have another task to work on before syncing up
If you're a developer, you must know what it's like to be heads down in the middle of something extremely mentally taxing, only to find you need an answer to a question or something, and that context switching to something else in the meantime becomes an enormous cognitive burden vs getting a quick answer and being able to continue on-task.
Humans don't multitask. It's a myth. Every context switch requires at least 20-30 minutes of ramp-up time on anything requiring any real thought. "Just be more asynchronous" is predicated on a faulty idea of how the human brain works.
So why is it okay if you have a need of someone else to force it on them? You can make the exact same argument pulling someone out of their flow to support you keeping yours.
>Humans don't multitask.
It's not multitasking. It's a context switch made out of necessity to keep yourself doing something. If it turns out your teammate responds early and you have to restart on the old task and ultimately you lose time, yes, that sucks. But what else are you going to do? Again, you're either taxing yourself, taxing someone else, or twiddling your thumbs to avoid the tax in hopes it ends up being the most profitable choice.
It's because I'm a developer I know exactly how annoying it is to be in either situation, both as the one who needs to help others, and as the one who needs help from others.
>I'm very curious where you got this idea because it certainly doesn't reflect reality.
We only had a single pandemic lasting 2 years with some evidence suggesting some subpopulation would do better asynchronous, remote or both. That's a far cry from running a larger experiment over the course of 20 years in an environment you're not forced to almost fully isolate yourself otherwise. If you're claiming there is large scale evidence proving sync is obviously and clearly better than async, in an environment which at least attempts to accommodate async, by all means, present it.
That's your straw man, not mine.
My point is that some work is essentially synchronous and "be more asynchronous" is not an actual solution because it doesn't reflect how humans actually work.
Remember: I'm not the one making affirmative claims about what people should be doing. Rather, I'm poking holes in the claims other people are making.
> It's not multitasking. It's a context switch
I... don't know what to do with this obvious internal contradiction.
> If you're claiming there is large scale evidence proving sync is obviously and clearly better than async, in an environment which at least attempts to accommodate async, by all means, present it.
I did. It's called 30 years of outsourcing. You're choosing to ignore that point, though why that is you've not made clear. Instead you're insisting I provide evidence to counter your unsupported claim, which isn't the best way to argue in good faith.
Which is why I'm not criticizing your other example of "dragging out or leading to misunderstandings", which is fair criticism of async and speaks favorably of synchronous communication (even if its just pinging messages at a rapid pace back and forth). However, I don't agree with a blanket statement such as "that's not how humans work". Enough people do work better largely asynchronous. What's more, people throw examples of "this can be solved synchronously!" when in reality, you're incurring costs no matter what solution you're going for. If we're arguing "that's now how humans work", humans weren't made to go from manually intensive labor 2-3 generations ago to sitting in the office 8 hours a day either, but here we are.
Looking back, all I find is this:
>As others have pointed out, working across multiple timezones/geographies has requires asynchronous work for decades, now, and anyone who does it will tell you have enormously painful it can be.
That's evidence asynchronous has challenges. Not that sync is flat-out better, let alone in what situations. Not a single comment in this thread links to any source as of the time of writing, it's just a bunch of people with experience and without debating anecdotes and rationalities with one another, on both sides of the spectrum. If anything, that proves how much evidence we lack to make a definite statement from either side.
I'm not arguing async doesn't have problems. I'm arguing different people work in different situations, rather than the one-size-fits-all mentality some individuals try to push through. Worse, because so many are denied experience or even strong evidence, people going "this doesn't work so no" feels infantilizing, leading to confusion and animosity down the road. It wasn't too many months ago we started questioning the need to be in office because commuting sucks, high rents suck, open offices sucks and individuals have different needs, and now it's met with a blanket "back to the office y'all" without clear transparency regarding production gains/losses.
The "one true way of working" has changed more often in the last three decades than most of our species' existence. I think there's room to criticize what is and isn't fixed.