What it means to have an async culture

Async is our thing – it’s a big part of how we’ve always worked. It's how we make communication right in a globally distributed company.

Async is our thing – it’s a big part of how we’ve always worked. In fact, we’d say that we’re pioneers of this way of working!

It all started in our early days, back when no one was really working remotely with clients, so we had to figure out the best way to achieve this for ourselves. We needed (and still need) to link up with clients in different time-zones in a way that maintains strong communication, positive results, and efficient project timelines – there’s often a lot of back and forth with software projects, so getting the communication right when only a few hours in our days overlap has always been essential to our success.

The async principle that enabled us to work with distant clients is actually pretty simple – in a nutshell, we send them a message at the end of each working day to report on our progress, explain what we plan to do if we don’t hear otherwise, and request any information or decisions we need to continue. It gives them the opportunity to check on our progress and respond at the end of their working day (or the next morning if they start before us), ready for us to get back to work when we’re ready. This way of communicating is adapted from agile practices, in particular the scrum concept where teams share progress, plans, and potential blocks – but with our own added SOUTHIE spin that comes from our years of shared experience in the best developer working practices out there.

Needless to say, we put clear principles in place to make sure this works – if we forget to mention something crucial, or don’t ask for all the information we need, the project could potentially be seriously delayed. We also want to make sure that if our customers are unable to get back to us, we’ll always provide a “default action”, which is the next step we’ll take if we don’t hear back from them. The mantra we work by is “think it through, then write it down”.

The async principles apply internally too, especially with our remote working culture (read more on building a remote-first culture here) – we have a strong “learn and share” philosophy, whether it’s sharing something we’ve figured out or achieved, or recording a meeting for those who were unavailable at the time.

The hard part is doing async effectively. Over time, we’ve learned how to give all the important information succinctly, and how to request what we need from our clients in a way that ensures we get it. We’ve made a fine art of written communication to ensure that clients get the best out of us and, as a team, we get the best out of each other. Having to do this has helped us develop self-direction and the analytical skills to prioritize and deliver only the most urgent information.

Async is a system that our clients love because it works - and as a result, like us, they’re firmly on board with it. Find out more about working at SOUTHWORKS on our Careers page.