Asynchronous communication: Getting the memo right

Suvera's engineering team is spread across countries and time zones - Gigi Minova and Ifkar Arifin, two of our product engineers tell us about how they try to keep good communication with their colleagues.
Ifkar Arifin

With COVID-19 cases soaring across the globe and wreaking havoc in our ordinary working schedules, as well as personal lives, remote working has become necessary for companies wanting to ensure their staff are happy. 

However, one of the most challenging aspects for teams to adapt is the ability to stay aligned without being in an office. This is where asynchronous communication comes into play. Asynchronous communication simply refers to the exchange of information between people without the process being tied to instantaneity. For example, if one colleague in London messages another at 2 am in Japan, the latter would not respond until their working hours have commenced, and vice versa. As we have a team working across different countries and time zones here at Suvera, asynchronous communication is key for us as a team.

Gigi Minova and Ifkar Arifin, two of our product engineers at Suvera share how they have adopted asynchronous communication in their working lives.

Gigi Minova shares:

"Luckily, as a product engineer at Suvera I'm working fully remotely, all the way from Japan but perfectly safe from my home office. I'd never thought as a child that someday I'd be working with so many people distributed across the globe, with employees in London, Ghana, Italy and Singapore, to name a few.
Firstly, working in any team begins with good communication and lots of planning and articulation of ideas and information.  For me the time overlap with the team in London is only 2 hours so I make sure I prepare really well for all meetings in advance. However, throughout the day I communicate with my team asynchronously. This includes writing daily stand-up updates on what I have been working on, what I am planning to work on today and any blockers I'm struggling with, as well as requesting updates I need from others on specific issues, if any.
Secondly, I message specific people individually via Slack or Email, as well as via comments across various services and platforms that we use for managing our workload, including ClickUp, Notion, GoogleDocs and GitHub. This way of working has enabled me to have more productive focus time as I can reduce context switching, interruptions and unplanned work coming my way at short notice. Therefore, I am able to truly get engulfed in my work. I have flexibility over the planning of my work throughout the day leading to greater satisfaction with my job.
Lastly, because my days are a lot better planned with little or no interruptions, I feel a lot less stressed and there is little pressure on me to constantly stay alert to other people's sudden requests or messages. Suvera has a culture of good documentation where meetings get recorded frequently and written summaries are shared across the team so we all get the memo!"

Ifkar Arifin says:

"I'm incredibly lucky to be working at a company that fully advocates remote asynchronous working. This gives me the flexibility to plan my work tasks accordingly. I would consider myself a naturally conscientious individual with a huge sense of ownership with the work that I do. Suvera's asynchronous approach has definitely allowed me to flourish and explore new challenges in a way that aligns with my values and personality.
Imagine working on a really important feature branch that needs to be released to production the next day and you get a dreaded error on the console. You frantically look at Slack to see who's available to help out. But it's already 6 pm. Everyone is offline. And why should they stay? Work-life balance is something that is highly valued at Suvera. Of course they won't be online past 6. So what do you do? Cancel your dinner plans to grind on this problem until 2am? Open Stack Overflow and look for a generic solution? Call your colleague's personal mobile and force them to come online? Maybe wait until the next morning until everyone is online?
This is where the beauty of asynchronous communication comes in. I'll open a ticket (set priority to urgent) along with the details of the bug. I'll assign this to my colleagues in Japan or Singapore. And voila, they can pick it up when London is sleeping. By the time London wakes up, it would have been fixed or addressed. There is a few hours overlap for synchronous communication if needed. And then onto the next priority.
So what's the life lesson with asynchronous working? We can continue to live life to our fullest whilst providing an amazing healthcare service for our patients. Life is too short to be slaving away at code with no fulfilment outside of work. Spend time with your loved ones, family and friends. Here at Suvera, I'm incredibly lucky to be working with some amazing conscientious individuals who are committed to making a difference. A big credit to the founders who have worked tremendously hard to put the processes in place for asynchronous work to happen. They are definitely the embodiment of the saying 'The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war'. "