In the age of video communications, there’s a group of super-productive folk doing it a little differently.
Rather than jumping on Zoom calls or having countless Teams meetings, they’re embracing asynchronous video.
And they’re all preaching the productivity benefits and work-life balance they’re enjoying.
Almost sounds too good to be true. But I am one of them; so I happen to know it first-hand.
Think of synchronous video as online meetings with more than one participant. Asynchronous is when you only need one person on the video at a time.
Thus removing the “always-on” mantra we accidentally employed during the pandemic.
Wait a minute, how can you have a meeting on your own?
Rather easily, as it goes. And rather productively!
You can’t just start doing it. If you turn down your next 10 Webex invites, people will think you’ve either left the company or think you’re above them.
It needs to be a group decision or one led by an advocate and drip-fed bit by bit.
When people know you’re using async, or trialing async, there’s always going to be a better response.
So, what’s holding back async video adoption?https://youtu.be/hoKNKa_uCo4
To start having async video meetings, agree the “agenda” and send your input/deliverables/thoughts via a video that the other meeting participants can watch in their own time.
If they need to respond, they can create a video in reply or send an email/Teams messages/whatever the agreed means is.
Here’s an example of an asynchronous meeting where I responded to a journalist’s request for an interview.
Instead of delaying until we could find a mutual time (which happened to be weeks), Ernest sent me his interview questions and I responded via video.
I do the same with my copywriting clients. When I’ve finished a blog post, I send them the draft.
Rather than having a meeting where they relay feedback and I try (and fail) to digest what they’re saying while I document terrible notes then try and work out what the edits are, they send an async video I can pause, rewind, and notate.
That’s just me. But I’m not the only remote worker reaping the rewards of async video…
Why asynchronous video?
Because the increase of remote work has left a lot of people suffering from video fatigue. And when we dive into the definition of video fatigue, we really mean paying attention to other people on a screen for far too long.
Having constant video meetings is tiring.
If you’ve ever experienced:
- Feeling tired between calls
- Feeling more tired at the end of your working day than usual
- Daydreaming instead of paying attention in your meetings
- Overheating or feeling sweaty during calls
- Eye strain or irritation that wasn’t pre-existing
- Regular headaches or migraines
- Constant feeling of exhaustion
- Anxiety of turning on your camera
Then you’ve likely experienced video fatigue.
The alternative is less stressful when you adopt it correctly.
And there are countless benefits aside from avoiding fatigue.
Since going it alone as UC Marketing, I’ve worked almost exclusively asynchronously. But, at no point, have I felt alone.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Asynchronous video enables me to have meetings and use video on my own time. I’m no longer held to ransom by Calendly links or messages inviting me to “jump on a quick call.”
I use async video for
- Asynchronous meetings
- Presenting reports
- Demoing my products
- Creating online courses
- Creating explainer videos
- Interviewing freelancers
Who’s using asynchronous video?
GitLab has over 1,500 staff and operates on an async basis.
In an article by Matthew Finnegan of ComputerWorld, he notes the GitLab handbook states:
“In an asynchronous company, team members are given agency to move projects forward on a schedule that suits them.”
“At GitLab, we measure results, not hours. This means that people are free to achieve results when it best suits them.”
Alan Cassinelli, Product Marketing Manager at Almanac—a document editing software—uses the example of his marketing team developing a webpage entirely async over two weeks.
With zero real-time meetings, they launched from scratch.
“We used an Almanac doc as a brief, created a mockup in Figma, left feedback via an asynchronous video tool, built it in Webflow, got it approved and published.
Four team members collaborated on it, from South Korea to Portland, to LA, and NYC.”
Asynchronous chat has already become the natural heir to the instant messaging throne. And I foresee adoption of its video counterpart becoming the norm for those businesses that allow it.
It’s only ourselves holding us back. You just need to find the right async video tool.
Who’s already providing async video?
You might have seen the little bubbles in the corner of the screen when people are sharing their desktop.
Async video has been a thing for quite some time already. But we’ve only associated it with content creation for the likes of YouTube videos.
Four marketers out of five will tell you Loom. Or ten out of twelve, as my scientific experiment below shows:
But there’s a host of Loom alternatives out there too.
Specialists in async video include:
- Hippo Video
And what about the major video vendors, I hear you say?
Well, this is where it gets really interesting.
Out of the Gartner Magic Quadrant 2021 for Meeting Solutions members, Webex has an async video function.
It was on show during the Cisco keynote at Enterprise Connect but only for a few seconds.
Zoom allows you to create a basic video message inside it’s chat and channels UI.
When LogMeIn rebranded to GoTo, it seems to have left behind its video message capability altogether. There’s no mention of it on its website, anyway.
But none of these other household (to us UC/AV folks) names have an async option*:
*This might change in time.
Now, this might be the wrong magic quadrant to look at. There isn’t one for asynchronous communications whatsoever.
But it feels the right place to start. Will there be an async video quadrant in years to come?
We also must give an honorable mention to Slack, who never usually enters the video conversation. It rolled out video clips within chats and channels in 2021.
Slack, don’t forget, is a messenger platform.
So it was both surprising and refreshing to see this blog post in January 2022.
Can async takeover from standard video conferencing?
It’s a nice thought but a fleeting one at that.
At no point do I (or any of the async video vendors I’ve spoken with) think real-time video conferencing will disappear.
But not offering an option could well lead to lost revenue or another app on the desktop.
The market for asynchronous video is well-established. We’ve mentioned 20 async-only providers in this blog post alone.
On async video flirting with the mainstream video conferencing market, Tom Arbuthnot, Microsoft MVP and Founder of Empowering Cloud, asks “Are you worried async video will become a feature rather than a product?”
I got async video tool founder, Grant Shaddick, to answer that one:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLtfUe8P4nI
More people are working remotely than ever before. Which leads to more people adopting flexible schedules.
While some companies are asking employees to come back to the office, the folks seeing more efficient results are leaving their teams to it.
Those who enforce change back to old-school mentality just because will ultimately lose the good folks that kept them afloat during the crazy, pandemic-enforced home working period.
While it’s an alien concept to some, quitting or turning down a job because the tools or method of working is a reality. Have a read of this article by Lizzy Lawrence at Protocol if you can’t get your head around it.
Sure, they still have some synchronous video meetings. And that’s fine. Have as many as you genuinely need.
But whatever you do, don’t let asynchronous video steal your