What do weekly team updates look like?
Weekly team updates are repeating calendar events where the entire team gathers in a conference room or on a video call to go over what they’ve been working on. Each team member takes a turn to discuss their status updates and any major talking points, obstacles, or issues they’ve faced.
Leaders need to know what their teams are doing, but these synchronous weekly updates aren’t the way to do it. In fact, it’s a colossal waste of time.
If you have a team of 10 people and each person takes five minutes to go over their updates, they still have to sit through 45 minutes of others speaking—likely doing nothing but sitting there listening (or even dozing)—before they can get back to work.
Is that how you want your team to be spending their time?
Fortunately, this is not the only way to get team status reports. Let’s talk a bit more about the cost that weekly meetings like this can have on your organization before we present to you an easier way to run efficient weekly team updates.
Why traditional weekly team updates are resource drainers
Whether your organization adopts a traditional work week or the four-day work week, you want to make the hours you have with your employees count. After all, your company has goals, and each person on your team plays an instrumental role in bringing your business closer to them.
If you’re consistently throwing wasteful meetings their way, they’re losing out on valuable time to focus on deep work that helps your organization’s bottom line. Especially because more time goes into meetings than just attendance.
Consider the tasks required to prepare for a meeting. Depending on your team, these might include:
- Prepping a meeting agenda
- Researching topics
- Writing lists of tasks they’ve accomplished
- Creating and practicing a presentation
- Collecting notes for an update
- Gathering questions, details, feedback, etc.
Now think about the time it takes to complete any relevant tasks after the meeting ends, like:
- Writing up a meeting summary
- Transcribing the meeting recording
- Syncing handwritten notes with digital organizational tools
- Adding new calendar events or productivity tool tasks
- Scheduling the next meeting 🤦
You can see how that time adds up to be more than just the weekly attendance.
When your employees spend an hour each week in just your team update meeting, plus extra time on pre- and post-meeting tasks, that’s a lot of time out of their workday dedicated completely to meetings.
And with Reclaim reporting professionals average about five meetings each day, it’s hard to see where actual work gets done.
But more than that, let’s take a look at some math around this culture of too many meetings. Let’s say you have a project manager on a salary of $70,000. That’s around $34 per hour.
According to Reclaim, professionals average 21.5 hours per week in meetings. This means you’re spending $731 per week just for this employee’s attendance in meetings.
Let’s say they also spend 30 minutes prepping for and winding down from each meeting. Reclaim’s research says the average employee has around 25 meetings per week, which averages out to 12.5 hours of prep and wind down time, or an additional $425 per week.
So we have $1,156 per week for this one employee attending meetings. There are 52 weeks out of the year, not counting any holiday time your project manager might take, which totals $60,112.
85% of their week (and their salary) is dedicated to meetings, leaving little time to get any real work done.
Of course, we’re working with averages here. And schedules and salaries vary, so the math may not be indicative of the weekly team update situation at your company. Still, it’s eye-opening when you look at the potential financial impact of wasteful meetings.
Use Harvard Business Review’s free meeting calculator to find the exact cost of meetings for your business.
No matter the cost, you can drastically cut it down by limiting your weekly team updates. By moving the rest to asynchronous communication, you’ll really start to see the difference.
How to run efficient weekly team updates (asynchronously)
Ready to revolutionize the meeting culture in your organization? Start small with your weekly standup meetings.
Let’s walk through the process of turning your weekly meetings with the whole team into productive and less invasive asynchronous updates.
Find the best tools for the job
Proper asynchronous communication begins with the right tools. Finding the best team communication apps that fit your work style will be key for setting everyone up for success.
As asynchronous communication pioneers, we have a few recommendations for you to get started.
Yac is an ideal tool for voice messaging and screen sharing. This helps you achieve the same desired outcome as traditional meetings while retaining the human feel and allows you to speak to your team without requiring everyone to be in attendance at the same time.
Pair Yac with other tools for maximum weekly team update efficiency. Here are some tools that dovetail nicely with Yac’s voice messaging and screen sharing:
- Notion or Almanac are completely customizable project management and note-taking tools, providing an outlet for creating dashboards for your different meeting types and housing your communication guidelines.
- Google Docs is perfect for file sharing and for holding agendas and meeting minutes for each of your asynchronous discussions. You can leave suggested edits and comment on drafts instead of meeting about updates and feedback.
- Asana is a project management software that can help you track projects from start to finish and add collaborators to every task and objective. Instead of meeting to see what everyone is working on and how far along they are, team members can tick off tasks as they go and leave brief messages on the platform.
- Miro is a useful brainstorming and team collaboration tool that can further improve your asynchronous conversations. Team members can use “sticky notes,” draw, leave gifs or emojis and collaborate without having to meet at the same time.
Partner these tools with Yac for a humanized, collaborative, async experience. You can screen share with a voice recording to add clarification and explain complex topics in detail, walk team members through your thinking or show them how to complete a process—all with the power of voice.
For example, imagine being sent a busy virtual whiteboard that functions as your design team’s workshop space. They want you to look over their plans for the next iteration of an app feature, but you have no idea where to start, where it ends, what’s relevant, etc.
A quick voice message explainer video would remove that confusion. Let’s rewind.
Now imagine that you received a screen share with a 30-second voice message telling you where to start, what to ignore, and what your team needs from you specifically. It has on-screen drawings to make it extra clear where you need to focus your attention.
With minimal effort from the sender, they can save the recipient a lot of time (and frustration). A quick voice message back also saves time spent typing out thoughts.
Voice is quicker to record and deliver than typing out a lengthy text, and it also helps ensure recipients gauge the emotional intent behind your message (a big problem with email and text-based updates).
With Yac, you can get shareable links to paste directly into docs, whiteboards, and other forms of communication. In our example above, you could paste your link into the whiteboard section where the team is working on their iteration. Each time you do this leaves a trail of breadcrumbs that can be revisited by the team or reviewed by any newcomers to follow the chain of thoughts leading to where you are now.
While you’re not meeting synchronously, let your team know there will still be deadlines for providing their updates each week.
For your weekly team update, it’s a good idea to have a 24-hour window for providing updates.
Create an async Yac discussion group for your weekly team update meeting where you can share these expectations, especially when just starting out. Let your team know what kinds of information they’ll need to compile each week so they can be prepared to start your first asynchronous weekly update on the right foot.
Create communication guidelines
When asynchronous communication is new for you and your team, it’s important to put together basic guidelines and policies to help everyone transition.
Create a standardized document or Notion dashboard that includes your preferred guidelines for communication and use Yac to share an asynchronous walkthrough of the guidelines.
This will also be useful as you onboard new employees and introduce them to how your team collaborates.
Include items like the following:
- Timeframes for expected asynchronous responses
- Templates for different asynchronous meeting agendas
- Best practices for how to get the most from each tool
- Stakeholders for various projects, so team members know who to talk to about what
- Each team member’s time zone and working hours
- Rules or suggestions for handling communication notifications from your communication apps
Add each of your preferred guidelines to your document to set your team up for success.
Hold asynchronous weekly team updates
Now it’s time to start holding asynchronous update meetings. Create a discussion group in Yac where you’ll send your agenda and collect responses.
Before sending that message, set up an agenda doc outlining what you’ll expect from the async meeting.
Input each person’s name and write down any specific questions you have for them. You can also use this section to keep track of who has responded.
Employees can leave an emoji or a check next to their name when they’ve submitted their response. This is also a great way to gauge employee wellbeing. For example, employees can leave an emoji that describes how they’re feeling this week.
If they leave a negative emoji, you’ll know to check in with that person in a 1-on-1 discussion.
Your agenda may include sections like these:
Send your agenda out to your team on the day of the week you plan to hold your async weekly team update so team members know when to expect it and factor a response into their day.
This is a great way to help your team focus more on their task lists while also making it easier for team members who work across timelines to participate more easily.
When it’s time to send your message along with your agenda, it might sound something like this:
“Hey everyone, please see this doc and share your updates in this discussion group. We had a great week last week and secured a demo with a big new client, so watch this space. A special thanks to the design team for all their last-minute help on last week’s presentation! This week, let us know what you’ve been working on, any snags that you need anyone to check out, and what you’re doing this week. Drop your voice message in this chat by end of play tomorrow.”
Try as best as possible to keep it short and to the point.
Be sure to set guidelines for how a team member can connect with you if any serious obstacles arise. You may consider holding “office hours” that allow team members with major issues to connect with you one on one if need be, without requiring the whole team’s presence.
Benefits of using asynchronous communication for weekly team updates
Are you starting to see how this process can work for your team? By eliminating some of your team’s weekly meetings, you ease up their workday and give them more time that they can use to get their actual tasks done.
There are so many benefits to implementing asynchronous communication in your business. Let’s cover a few.
More time for deep work
There are some tasks that require heavy brainpower. This is called deep work, and it requires the ability to focus on a single task for long periods without constant interruptions.
Removing unnecessary meetings from your team’s schedule gives them more time to get deep work done. Take this a step further by empowering employees to block off large chunks of time dedicated to deep work that matters.
Less context switching
Context switching is when you move quickly from task to task, removing your ability to really focus or hone in on a single task.
For example, say one of your copywriters is writing an outline for a marketing video, but then a Slack notification pops up, so she responds to that. She gets back to the outline before someone pops his head into their office to ask her a question. Or, if she’s working remotely, she gets a knock at the front door. She finally returns to her desk when an important email comes through. Then she notices it’s time to join a virtual meeting.
This hamster wheel of context switching is exhausting, and it inhibits your team members’ productivity.
By moving towards asynchronous communication with platforms like Yac—and creating async guidelines that don’t expect an immediate response and recommend limiting notifications—you reduce the likelihood of interruptions and help your team do their work.
Allows for various time zones to collaborate
If you’ve been a synchronous-first organization, it’s likely placed some limitations on your hiring locations.
Defaulting to async makes your team more location-independent, making it easier for employees on opposite sides of the world to collaborate and work productively together.
Gives employees more control over their time
Let your employees set their own calendars. They can get their work done independently without meetings dictating their schedules.
Employees can block off time for deep work like we already talked about. Or they can work during the times of day that they’re most productive, without having to prescribe to a set schedule.
But even so, they’re still able to be engaged in asynchronous team discussions—when it fits into their workday.
Enables the four-day workweek & workations
If you want to jump on some of the latest trends, like trying out the four-day work week or empowering your employees to work while traveling, you’re going to have to revamp your communication habits.
Give your employees more time in their workweeks, making it possible to meet goals and deadlines within, for example, 32 hours instead of 40.
Or promote workations, which is where employees get their work done while exploring new locations. Also known as digital nomading, remote work and asynchronous communication make perks like this possible. In this “buyers’ market,” flexible working perks can make or break a talented new hire’s decision to work with your company.
Our biggest takeaway is to stop having so many synchronous weekly team updates. These meetings eat up your team’s productivity and cost your business more than necessary.
Instead, switch to asynchronous meetings that can be held throughout the day while still providing your team with ample time to focus on productive work that moves the needle forward. You'll give your team more freedom during the day and become a more attractive employer.