Live vs Async Standups
4 questions to ask yourself before choosing live standup, async standup, or a mix of both.
September 13, 2022
Standup is more than a meeting. It’s a collaboration cycle that happens across channels. The team comes together around a shared goal and executes in a series of daily cycles.
Align on what everyone is working on
Identify opportunities to move faster
Create accountability and motivation
Emotionally connect with your teammates
Build trust in each other
When it comes to running your daily standup, we hear two schools of thought: live and async.
Live standups (or sync standups) are held in real-time, with all participants gathered together in one place, usually a video call. This can be a great way to build rapport and get everyone on the same page. However, live standups can also be disruptive, especially if people are located in different time zones.
Read More: How to Improve your Daily Standup Format
Async standups are held online in an asynchronous platform (like docs or Slack) with participants contributing input at their own pace. In other words, the inputs are written online and there’s no meeting. This can be a more convenient option for busy schedules, but it can also lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for connection.
So how do you decide?
TL;DR If your team hasn’t established much trust or if you struggle with alignment, live standups might be best for you. If your team has established high degrees of trust, you’re aligned on goals, and you rarely encounter distractions or last-minute requests, then async standups (at least a few times a week) is a great option for your team, especially if you’re distributed across timezones.
To explore a little deeper, here are 4 things to consider before choosing a format.
#1 Trust: Does the team trust each other?
It’s important to create trust within your team so that everyone feels comfortable working together and asking for clarification or help if they need it. There are a number of ways to build trust, but every way takes time. It's harder to build trust if you over-rotate on async collaboration too soon in your team’s maturity.
Human connection: The daily standup might be the only “face to face” time some people get with their team. Turning that into a fully async experience can feel lonely, isolating and confusing to a new team member.
Asking for clarification: If the team isn’t comfortable with each other, they may hesitate to ask for clarification. Layer in vague async updates, and you have a recipe for misunderstanding and misalignment.
Read more: 10 Things to Consider Before Switching to Asynchronous Daily Standup
#2 Alignment: Is the team aligned on goals?
For a team to be successful, everyone needs to be on the same proverbial page. This is way easier said than done, especially when team members have different ideas about what the goals and priorities should be or what their specific role is in getting there. Without alignment, designers and engineers may get frustrated and may even start to undermine each other's efforts. If your team is struggling with alignment, this will only get magnified in asynchronous channels where there’s less context.
#3 Timezones: Where is everyone located?
Working with a distributed team can be a challenge, especially when it comes to arranging a time for your daily standup. If most team members are within a few hours of each other, that’s a lot easier to coordinate than if teams are spread across different countries. If schedules are hard to coordinate consider trying async standups a few times a week. Or consider tools like Spinach that make it easy for people to participate asynchronously, even if they can’t join the live meeting.
#4 Bandwidth: are you struggling with meeting overload?
Dev teams can find themselves stuck in a repetitive cycle of status updates with multiple stakeholders, which can be a frustrating waste of time. The typical reaction is “There are too many meetings! Let’s go async” Not a terrible idea! But it doesn’t solve the root cause of stakeholder confusion. The team is likely not documenting updates clearly, and as a result has to join multiple meetings throughout the day to communicate progress. Before you decide that going async will solve all your problems, evaluate your documentation processes. Consider a tool like Spinach that gives you an easy-to-share daily status update to share with stakeholders.
Read More: How to Run An Effective Daily Standup
Spinach supports live and async meetings.
Each team has their own way of working. Whether you prefer live standups, async standups, or a mix of both- Spinach is here for it. We launched async features to give you better results, regardless of how you work.
At Spinach, we do live standups Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and go async on Wednesdays and Fridays. This combination helps us balance connection and clarity with flexibility and heads-down time.
1. Meeting-free days. You can write your Check-In in Spinach, skip the meeting, and we’ll share a summary in your Slack channel. The best part? You won't lose any history or context when switching between live and async standups.
2. Can’t make it to standup. Stuff happens. Time zones are challenging. If you need to miss standup, you can still add your Check-In to the live meeting. If you aren't there, Spinach automatically labels it "Async Check-In". And you can see what you missed in the daily summary.