Async is better than sync

Joining any new company is always a learning opportunity. When I started working at Automattic, it was a great learning opportunity for me as I had never worked fully remote earlier. The most important thing that I learned during my first month at Automattic is that async communications is often times much better than sync communication.

Before joining Automattic, emails were the the only async communication that I did during as part of my job. But I avoided it as much as I could. This was probably because most of the email interfaces/clients are not designed for dialogue with multiple person. I always preferred going to meetings instead of discussing things through email. Even though meetings worked, it was difficult to get everyone in the same room on a short notice and then, there was also the overhead of keeping minutes of meeting and sending it as an email to everyone involved.

As I started working at Automattic, sync discussions were possible with my team but not very convenient as almost everyone was in a different timezone. I had to schedule hangouts well in advance to do any high bandwidth discussion as Slack is not appropriate for long form discussion. To overcome these scheduling issues, I embraced P2s and started communicating through them as much as possible. As I started using it more and more, I discovered that putting my ideas in writing made things more coherent and clearer for me leading to much more efficient discussions. Also, since I didn’t have to wait for others availability, I can just post on P2 and keeping working on other stuff while my team responded to the post. This also meant that we were not interrupting each other and could keep up and discuss things as per our availabilities and priorities.

Thus, communicating asyn through P2s was not only better than sync to overcome meeting scheduling headaches but also because it resulted in much more clearly stated and well thought problem statements and their resolutions.