Monday, December 18, 2023

Running effective asynchronous (async) meetings

In the remote/asynchronous world we live in, running effective asynchronous (async) meetings is becoming a popular reality. Here's what you need to know to succeed.
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Hey, good news! In the remote era, running effective asynchronous (async) meetings is possible! On this post, let's understand how to succeed, run and participate in async meetings.

What is an async meeting?

What do you understand by "async meeting"? Yes, it's essentially a meeting that happens asynchronously, where participants engage without the need for same-time communication. Its biggest benefit is asynchronous collaboration, especially in remote or distributed work environments where team members work in different locations of the globe.

Best Practices for Async Meetings

So let's review some tips on how to run effective (and productive) async meetings.

Set Clear Objectives

First, you should define the purpose and goals of the meeting. What specific outcomes or decisions does the team want to achieve?

Choose the Right Tools

Next, make sure you utilize collaboration and communication tools designed for async meetings. Popular options include Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or dedicated async meeting platforms.

TIP: Check our previous post on async work for more information.

Schedule in Advance

Announce the async meeting well in advance to allow participants to plan their time and contribute thoughtfully.

Provide Context

Share background information, documents, and relevant context before the meeting. Make sure participants have all the necessary information to contribute effectively.

Set a Deadline

Because async meetings don't end at the same time for everyone, it's important to specify a deadline for participants to provide their input or feedback. This creates a sense of urgency and helps keep the meeting on schedule.

Agenda and Structure

Create a clear agenda that outlines the topics, questions, or tasks to be addressed during the meeting. Organize the meeting into structured sections to make it easy for participants to follow and respond to specific points.

Use Clear Communication

Write clear and concise messages or prompts. Avoid overly lengthy or ambiguous messages that could lead to misunderstandings.

Encourage Participation

Before, during and after the event, make sure that everyone understands that their input is valuable. Encourage participants to contribute their ideas, suggestions, or feedback openly.

Set Expectations

As sync meetings, async meetings have a goal. Clearly communicate the expected level of participation and the timeline for responses. Be explicit about the desired outcome for each participant, or for the team.

Follow-Up and Reminders

Another good practice is to send reminders and follow-up messages to participants as the deadline approaches. Ensure that no one forgets to contribute.

Consolidate Responses

Once all responses are collected, consolidate and summarize them into a cohesive document or message. Highlight key points, decisions, and action items.

TIP: Use GenAI to summarize the information. Why not?

Document the Meeting

Keep a record of the meeting's outcomes, decisions, and action items. Share this documentation with all participants for reference.

Decision-Making Process

If the async meeting is intended for decision-making, clearly outline the decision-making process and criteria. Use a voting system or other method to reach a consensus.

Review and Iterate

After the async meeting, evaluate its effectiveness. Gather feedback from participants and make improvements for future async meetings.


But async meetings has its challenges too. Here are some details that organizations should consider.

Manage Overload

Be cautious about overloading participants with too many async meetings. Prioritize and schedule them judiciously to avoid burnout.

Assign Roles

Designate a facilitator or organizer responsible for managing the meeting and ensuring that participants stay on track.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

Ensure that all participants have equal access to the meeting materials and can contribute comfortably. Consider time zones and different work schedules to accommodate global teams.

Respect Time Zones

Be mindful of time zone differences when setting deadlines and sending reminders. Use tools that display multiple time zones to avoid confusion.


Effective async meetings can enhance collaboration, allow for thoughtful contributions, and accommodate the diverse schedules and preferences of team members in remote or distributed work settings. It's important to establish clear processes and expectations to make async meetings a valuable and efficient part of your team's workflow.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Creating Great Documentation for Remote Teams

Remote work is not only about writing code and creating PRs, but also making sure key information can be easily found

Continuing on the topic remote work and async best practices, today we will cover how to leverage documentation to effectively. 

Creating great documentation for use in remote teams is essential for ensuring that team members have access to the information and resources they need to work effectively, even when they are not physically located in the same place.

Why documentation is important

Documentation is a foundational concept for IT and software development teams. Some of the obvious benefits are: greater collaboration, knowledge sharing, problem-solving, and quality assurance while also serving as a reference for future development and maintenance efforts.

Documentation plays a crucial role in the context of information technology (IT) and software development for several reasons, as it can be used for:

  • Knowledge Transfer
  • Onboarding
  • Maintenance and Troubleshooting
  • Compliance and Auditing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Collaboration
  • Scalability
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Historical Context, and more.

Given its critical importance, let's take a look at some best practices for effective documentation commonly used by remote teams.

Documentation Best Practices for Remote Teams

Define Clear Objectives

Clearly state the purpose and objectives of the documentation. What specific information or tasks should it help remote team members accomplish?

Structure and Organization

Organize the documentation logically with a clear structure. Use headings, subheadings, and a table of contents to make it easy to navigate. Group related topics together, and use a consistent naming convention for files and sections.

Don't forget with the Basics

Begin by documenting fundamental information such as team goals, mission, vision, and core values. Provide an overview of the team's structure and members.

Include Detailed Guides

Develop detailed guides, tutorials, and how-to documents for common tasks and processes. These guides should be step-by-step and include screenshots or videos if necessary. Consider creating templates for common documents, reports, or forms to ensure consistency.

Use Visuals and Examples

Incorporate visuals, diagrams, and examples to enhance understanding. Visual aids can be particularly helpful for complex concepts or processes.

Keep It Updated

Regularly review and update the documentation to ensure its accuracy. Assign ownership of specific sections to team members responsible for the content.

Incorporate a Feedback Mechanism

Establish a feedback mechanism for team members to suggest improvements or report errors in the documentation. Act on this feedback promptly.

Facilitate Regular Trainings

Provide training to remote team members on how to use the documentation effectively. Make sure they understand how to access and navigate the documentation platform.

Don't forget Onboarding Material

Create a dedicated section for onboarding materials for new remote team members. Include information on team culture, policies, and procedures.

Promote Usage

Encourage remote team members to use the documentation as their primary source of information and guidance. Emphasize its importance in remote work.

Identify Your Audience

Determine who will be using the documentation. Remote teams often consist of a diverse group of individuals with different roles and responsibilities.

Essential Tools for Effective Project Documentation

Without supporting tools, great documentation would not be accessed effectively. So let's review essential tools to maximize your team's use and access to documentation.

Version Control

Implement version control for documentation so that team members can access previous versions if needed. This is crucial for tracking changes and maintaining a historical record.

Search and Indexing

Implement a robust search function or indexing system within your documentation platform to help team members quickly find the information they need.

Foster Collaborative Editing

Always allow team members to contribute to and edit documentation collaboratively. Encourage subject matter experts to share their knowledge.

Review Access Control

Manage access to documentation carefully. Ensure that team members have appropriate permissions to view and edit documents based on their roles and responsibilities.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Implement a backup and disaster recovery plan to ensure that documentation remains accessible even in the event of technical issues or data loss.

Security and Privacy

Consider security and privacy when creating and sharing documentation, especially when dealing with sensitive information. Use encryption and access controls as needed. Conduct regular audits or reviews of the documentation to identify areas for improvement or expansion based on changing needs and processes.

Which tools should I use?

First and foremost, use what is allowed by your organization,  and what works for your team. Consider using collaborative tools like Google Docs, Microsoft SharePoint, Confluence, or dedicated documentation software like Notion or Markdown-based systems like GitHub.

Just don't forget to tune your security, and get everyone onboarded to access the information they need.


Great documentation is an essential resource for remote teams. It fosters clarity, consistency, and productivity, enabling team members to work effectively and independently regardless of their physical locations. Regularly maintaining and improving documentation is an ongoing process that contributes to the success of remote work environments.

About the Author

Bruno Hildenbrand      
Principal Architect, HildenCo Solutions.