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How Asynchronous Work Can Help Battle and Eliminate Burnout Burnout is everywhere, and having witnessed the potentially life-threatening health detriments that it can have, I believe we need to do all we can to reduce it.

By Tom Medema Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Asynchronous work environments are by no means a miracle cure, but their pros widely work in tandem against root causes of burnout.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The overall change in workplace dynamics has been widely covered in recent years and for obvious reasons. Due to my professional focus, I have had my fair share of this coverage, but my perspective has mostly been on the positive end of the spectrum. I understand that the generally inquisitive nature of humankind can sometimes lead to heavy questioning and, thus, a naturally slow and tentative adoption of rapid change, but that is why I see it as crucial to highlight benefits that I believe can be massive and that largely arise from this adoption.

My professional focus as the founder and CEO of Bubbles revolves around workplace dynamics, and more specifically, asynchronous work environments and the need for optimization of meeting calls that are deemed essential. It represents a quest to adopt revolutionary changes in both general working patterns and behavior, and the improving technology that facilitates it.

Now, many view the continued stronghold of remote, asynchronous work negatively, but I am of the opinion that the majority of those holding this view have not fully considered the extent of the benefits. One of them is the impact of asynchronous work environments on burnout and how changing work patterns have impacted our perception and management of workplace stress. To clarify, burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to stress. Burnout is something that has been of growing concern in work settings, both traditional and (to some extent) modern. Nevertheless, we should all want to reduce or even eliminate burnout. I just specified that the lack of full extent for modern burnout is a concern because of the positive impact of asynchronous work habits.

Nevertheless, there remains a long way to go. To put some numbers to this claim, a 2022 study by Asana that quizzed over 10,000 knowledge workers across seven countries found that around 70% of respondents experienced burnout in the previous year. This is a crazy number, but as I mentioned, if we can all collaborate to increase our expertise and awareness of burnout, I know we can find ways to reduce it, improving our work individually and when working as a team. Let's now explore how this is possible by first gaining more of an understanding of the problem itself.

Related: 6 Ways to Avoid Burnout While Working Remote

Understanding burnout

Per the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Symptoms include energy depletion and increased mental distancing from the job at hand, which all combine to reduce the worker's efficiency. The roots of burnout can be vast but generally encompass excessive work, especially with a lack of control and a subsequent lack of fairness and conflict in values. Burnout can itself be a root of more serious health issues, such as depression, anxiety and cardiovascular issues. A Gallup study found that employees with regular feelings of burnout are 63% more susceptible to sick days and are 2.6 times more likely to be on the new job hunt.

Of course, there are a variety of burnout types, from being overloaded to being under-challenged, and technological burnout is also more than possible in the digital age. Still, part of this journey is to recognize that entirely eradicating is unrealistic. Instead, we should see these startling health statistics as a trigger to reduce the prevalence of burnout as much as possible, which is what async working, in my view, has been doing.

Related: 5 Tips to Build Mental Fitness Within Your Teams

The rise of asynchronous work

Asynchronous work is a flexible working style where tasks are completed without the need for real-time interaction, and it has gained popularity recently due to the desire to optimize remote working. Flexibility brings control, directly counteracting a root cause of burnout, but also retains or even increases the effectiveness of collaboration, as the async approach allows more deliberation time to communicate those thoughts effectively. Any team member succeeding in achieving this is bound to feel like they are constantly improving their teamwork and team success, which will increase morale and work-life balance, which is pivotal to reducing stress and preventing burnout.

Furthermore, these success stories are becoming ever more common with the rise in async adoption. Speaking from a position of experience with Bubbles, which is partially an asynchronous communication platform, I have heard that my own team, who all pioneer this technology, feel far more comfortable and happy in their collaborative efforts due to the reduced pressure of immediate responses, and flexibility to manage personal responsibilities.

From my perspective, implementing asynchronous communication in your team can appeal to every member. Those who are shy and reserved in their input feel less stressed by everyday meetings and conversations, and those who are more boisterous can continue to be so but also have that added flexibility to communicate on their own time. In these instances, the former experiences less stress and, therefore, usually less burnout, and the latter feels less pinned down and restricted to tight timings, potentially, for example, meaning they can attend a gathering or meet with a friend while still ensuring they complete their work. The effect here is a boost in work-life balance and happiness, which hopefully has a mirrored effect.

Related: Avoid These 3 Key Mistakes for Team Success in 2024

To conclude, asynchronous work environments hold significant potential for reducing workplace burnout through revolutionary shifts in everyday communicative and collaborative patterns. This is not to say that async is a panacea, and the success of these environments in reducing burnout largely hinges on their implementation and management. Nevertheless, the risk of adoption and testing is minimal compared to the reward of unblocking your team from burnout and ensuring a healthy, productive work environment. Therefore, my final words are to move with the trends and explore how beneficial this can be for you and your team.

Tom Medema

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Bubbles

Tom is the Founder of Bubbles, one of the fastest-growing remote work tools in tech— with a quarter of a million users. As a former CTO, he scaled his last company's remote engineering team from 1 to 150 in under two years. Those growing pains led to Bubbles, an async video collaboration platform.

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