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We have decided to bet hard on asynchronous work. It's been a year since we began working async at MarsBased, and the balance is overall very positive. We think it is the future of work: a life-changing approach for location-independent and happier professionals.
As the world continues to shift towards remote work, the benefits of asynchronous (async, from now on) work are becoming increasingly apparent. While many companies are still adapting to the concept of remote work, async work is quickly emerging as the next step in the evolution of work.
So, what exactly is async work? Simply put, async work allows you to work on your own schedule without having to wait for someone else to answer. Unlike remote work, which still requires specific hours and virtual meetings, async work gives you the autonomy to decide when you work and how you work.
We sort of spearheaded the officeless movement when MarsBased was founded, in 2014. Up until then, there were already remote companies, so we weren't doing anything new, but most of them, if not all, had an office. We were fundationally officeless. That hard remote angle gave us a competitive advantage in hiring: we could tap into talent irrespective of their location.
However, as time went by, more and more companies adopted remote work, especially during and after the pandemic, so we lost that competitive advantage. We had to look for something new and be ahead of the rest of the market again.
For those who have been working remotely for the past decade, the concept of async work is not new. But for those just now entering the world of remote work, the benefits of async work are life-changing.
For starters, async work allows for greater flexibility in terms of sleep. Studies have shown that individuals have different genetically predisposed chronotypes, meaning some people naturally wake up early while others wake up closer to noon. With async work, you can work during the hours that are most optimal for you, allowing for a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
I, for one, am a night owl. I've had years of my life in which I started my day almost at lunchtime so I could work during the late evening and well past midnight, sometimes. My productivity and creativity spiked well after dusk.
Related to the officeless point discussed above, async work also allows for greater location independence. Having to be on call at specific hours can restrict your ability to travel or live in different time zones. With async work, you have the freedom to live wherever you want in the world without being tied to a specific time zone.
Although at MarsBased we seldom do on-site work (if ever - and it's mostly done by the founders), we meet in person 3-4 times a year for a couple of days during the Martian Days and once for the company retreat. To make it more enjoyable for everyone, we advise our employees to live no further than 2-3h away by plane so it is reasonable travel time for the time we spend together.
The rest of work, we do mostly async on platforms like Linear, Basecamp, Slack and Github, but we'll leave the details for another blog post!
Another major advantage of async work is the ability to avoid crowds. We allow our employees to work whenever suits them best provided they offer a minimum of overlap with the clients when it's needed. As a consultancy, we can't do 100% async all of the time, but for most clients, no meetings are required!
This way, if you have to organise around bringing your kids to school and your gym times, so be it! We've got a few people starting to work well before 7am so they can wrap up by lunchtime. Others start later in the day so they can spend time in the morning with their families and work later in the evening when their kids are in bed. The possibilities are endless!
I take advantage of async work to travel in the week, to avoid the crowds of the weekends. Flying on a Tuesday noon is usually much cheaper and less crowded. If I'm not able to work in the plane, I will compensate in another moment during the week. It's SO worth it!
Last, but not least, async allows more introverted and shy people to join the ranks of certain companies, feeling more comfortable at work in environments where face-to-face communication is not required or not preferred over sync. This undoubtedly has positive effects on their mental health, and it allows companies like us to tap into a broader range of diverse talent who will be happier at work!
All of these benefits culminate in lower stress, better health, and increased happiness for asyncers. In fact, the advantages of async work are so great that there is likely to be a growing divide between those who can work async and those who cannot, according to Pieter Levels.
Those who can work async will enjoy a more peaceful and stress-free life with more opportunities for fun, and the ability to live wherever they choose. Meanwhile, those who cannot work async will remain stuck in traditional 9-5 work schedules, tied to a single time zone and unable to enjoy the same level of freedom and flexibility.
All in all, and to be entirely honest, this is something that has to be taken with a pinch of salt: we live in a bubble. Only those in the tech bubble are likely to see this improvement in their work conditions. Outside of tech, it'll take too many years for this innovation to trickle over to other strata of society. I just hope I live long enough to see it and will fight to make it happen.
Asynchronous work is truly the next step in the evolution of work, and those who embrace it will reap the benefits of a more balanced, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle, and that's why we're betting hard on it at MarsBased.