Why Asynchronous Communication is Ideal for Weekly Team Updates
Recording succinct, weekly team updates with video is an ideal way for teams to stay aligned, share out what was achieved to other colleagues, and preview what’s on the horizon for the next week.
On the Brand Design team, we employ a video-first process where a team member records and posts a short, two-minute (or so) Loom video message about the team’s wins, what we worked on, and what’s up next. These updates are posted in our #team-design Slack channel, which is open to everyone at the company. This approach allows for viewers to view when and as they like. Posting weekly team updates in an open channel is a more efficient delivery mechanism for the Design team and other teams to stay connected and aligned on our work.
Here’s why we use asynchronous video communication for our weekly team updates, how these updates are created, and some ways video reinforces and helps us live our value of leading with transparency.
Short, sharp, and to the point: Weekly updates keep the Design team aligned and other teams in the loop
To best communicate the work of the Design team on a consistent basis, we felt it was worth a reconsideration of the way we share our work with each other and the rest of the company.
Previously, we had a private channel and would send out periodical status updates on projects that were in-flight that were visible to the rest of the company. We looked at both the time it takes to put a slide deck together or write an in-depth email and how these activities could create unwelcome noise for recipients. Why take the time to create something that won’t get the engagement it deserves?
When you sign up for a newsletter, you opt in to that. It’s an agreement you can opt out of at any point. Other teams that we don't regularly interact with, Engineering and Infrastructure for example, don’t necessarily understand what we do all day. An open internal communication channel and weekly video updates allow us to communicate the value of the Design team, and helps from a company alignment perspective.
Because the #team-design Slack channel is now open, our work is always visible when other Loommates are curious about what we’re up to or need to know about the status of a current project, like a rebrand.
Asynchronous weekly status updates also help us to stay focused on tactical priorities that we are looking to achieve during any particular week, and give us the opportunity to flag potential issues or blockers and address them before they become actual issues or blockers.
Whether we surface actual design work, or a project brief, the weekly update doesn’t have to include highly polished and rendered design artifacts. With video messages, you can still show what’s in motion without the pressure to create a comprehensive presentation.
Highly curated updates curtail true access into our work — so, we don’t do that
Two minutes, max, the goal of our video updates is not to show every single thing we designed that week, nor meant to be an exhaustive list –– it’s meant to be a taste.
As designers, you can present your work in a highly curated way: You think about the narrative, and you curate the deck with that in mind. It’s classic designer behavior to feel anxious about sharing what you’re working on, especially if it’s not finished.
Access is not necessarily transparency. Our weekly video updates are intentionally more messy works in progress: We’re showing and telling the problems we’re working through. We’re not doing extra work to create a super polished presentation. Transparency in practice means that you get real-time insights into the work. Since there’s no delay in reporting out what the team is working on, struggling with, and celebrating, we stay more accountable to the Loom value of leading with transparency.
Video updates meet teammates where, and when, they work
Recording video messages allows for asynchronous team updates, which let the design team create a visual overview of what they are working on, ask questions about cross-functional projects, and give or solicit feedback on their own time. Since our teams work across multiple time zones, just as teammates can record updates when it’s most convenient for their schedule based on when they work, everyone can watch the weekly update when it’s best for them.
We don’t necessarily work on the same projects at the same time, so these updates serve many functions, including:
A moment for us as a team to reflect on the work we’ve done and stay aligned
A consistent opportunity to track what we do and what comes up during the week
What you said you would work on Monday may change once you get to Friday. Weekly updates make space for these shifts.
When you implement asynchronous video updates, you improve work life for your own and other teams for two main reasons.
First, because these weekly video updates are time zone-agnostic, teammates in New Zealand get the same benefit from viewing as those in the U.S. In contrast to real-time, synchronous standups, there’s no loss of signal, whether it’s for 1 person or 100 people.
Second, with a video message as the format, you also have the opportunity to have a bit of fun, and color outside the lines by adding some personal touches to your professional updates. These personal touches can be in the form of nuance through non-verbal communication, sharing what you are up to for the weekend, a shiny new desk accessory, or designing a humorous template for your background. With a globally distributed team, sharing non-work details is a great way to add some custom flair to the work day.
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Written by Stewart Scott-Curran
Stewart is Senior Director of Brand at Loom.