How Strong Documentation Powers Async Work

Image of person typing on computer

Contents

What do all of the most effective async-first companies have in common? Super strong documentation practices. 

Companies like GitLab and Doist empower their teams to be autonomous, efficient, productive, and inclusive by prioritizing writing skills and good documentation habits.  

 

Why Is Documentation So Important?

Clear, consistent, updated documentation is critical to async work because it ensures that information is easily accessible. This not only keeps projects moving seamlessly, but also promotes autonomy and inclusion across the organization. Rather than keeping Information siloed or restricted—forcing colleagues to rely on each other’s time and availability—anyone who needs the information can access it directly. 

With strong documentation habits, then, your team can: 

  • Save time by reducing the need to ask other people for information.  
  • Improve the quality of work produced by making processes more consistent. 
  • Increase equity and inclusion by making information accessible to everyone, regardless of location. 
  • Maintain business continuity in the face of any major changes to personnel or the business structure. 

 

How Can You Improve Your Documentation Practices? 

Improving documentation practices takes commitment from everyone involved. Try a multifaceted approach where you implement some tiny changes at the same time that you roll out a big experiment that challenges your old ways of working. 

Tiny Actions

Here are some examples of tiny actions you and your team can implement immediately that will improve documentation habits: 

  • Send a summary of your thoughts prior to a meeting you aren’t attending.
  • Write brief bullet points via a communication platform after an important decision has been made and tag key parties.
  • Provide a two-paragraph overview or context for a report, project, or program at the beginning of a longer document. 
  • Contribute asynchronously, in writing, to a brainstorm on a virtual whiteboard prior to a team meeting.
  • Use a meeting transcription tool like Otter.ai to automatically document sync meetings.
  • Share your screen and document minutes via a cloud-based document during sync meetings.
  • Collect updates from team leaders each week and share them as an internal blog post or message.

Big Experiment 

Having one single source of information, or Single Source of Truth, is the most effective way to streamline documentation. It’s a one-stop-shop for all answers to any questions, and it prevents one of the most common issues regarding knowledge management: having too much information stored in different places, often resulting in conflicting or duplicative information. 

Not sure how to get started? Sign up for the Hybrid Team Success Toolkit to get access to a SSoT template, as well as 7 other templates for effective virtual team processes.

 

What Tools Are Best? 

At Workplaceless, we know that every team is different. You may already have a tool that can help you with clear documentation or you might need to consider adopting a new one. 

For the purposes of maintaining consistent documentation that is easy to update, look for cloud-based tools that allow for comments, notifications, version tracking, searching, and organization. 

At Workplaceless, we use ClickUp for our Single Source of Truth (SSoT) because we also use it for project management and other purposes. If you’re looking to adopt a new tool to bolster your documentation practices, you can also explore tools like Almanac, Notion, and Confluence. 

 

Build Commitment 

Of course, building effective documentation isn’t a one-and-done event. It takes commitment not just to writing the documentation, but also to reading it and using it. Build your team’s buy-in and effectiveness by: 

  • Setting explicit expectations 
  • Modeling desired behaviors 
  • Holding people accountable
  • Constantly referring to documentation 
  • Making the information easy to access
  • Making documentation fun 

You can also build commitment by investing in resources such as our Leadplaceless program, which will help your entire team align on the importance of documentation and build habits that empower autonomous, async-first work. 

 

Whether you choose to start with tiny actions or a big experiment, the key is to start right away. The longer you wait to improve documentation, the harder it will be to enact lasting change in your team’s habits.

Ready to translate insights into action ?

Our virtual leadership training builds the skills you need to lead effective and inclusive digital-first teams.

We are ready to guide you through every step needed to transform your team..

Workplaceless Team

Workplaceless Team

Workplaceless envisions a workforce that thrives in a flexible and digital-first future—where performance and growth are not constrained by location. Our team goal is to share insights and practices that will help professionals and companies achieve this aspiration.
Workplaceless envisions a workforce that thrives in a flexible and digital-first future—where performance and growth are not constrained by location. Our team goal is to share insights and practices that will help professionals and companies achieve this aspiration.
Workplaceless logos horizontal full color

We find a consultative process is most effective for companies with 50 or more employees and a rapid process is more impactful for companies with fewer than 50 employees.

How many employees are at your organization?

Answer a couple questions below and submit to schedule a complimentary consultation.

*You will not be automatically added to our mailing list.

Become an Insider

Don’t miss a single remote, hybrid, async work update delivered straight to your inbox!

We promise — no spam and no email sharing — just behind-the-scenes tips, insights, and proven practice sharing.

Answer a couple questions below and submit to schedule a complimentary consultation.

*You will not be automatically added to our mailing list.