We’re hiring an asynchronous team to build an asynchronous product. What does that even mean?

Mary Bleech headshot

Kaylee McHugh

October 21, 2021
It would be an understatement to say that the world has changed drastically over the past two years. Everything we do, whether it’s as simple as buying groceries or as complicated as planning for retirement, has been turned upside-down, sideways, and every direction in between. With this shift has emerged a completely new way to work. Companies were forced to navigate uncharted territory as they hurdled the logistics and company culture implications of pivoting to remote work wherever possible. Where not possible, they learned how to adjust expectations and regulations in their offices, warehouses, hospitals, and schools. In both cases, this shift has revealed something we can’t ignore — what we were doing before wasn’t making people happy. Unfortunately — what we’re doing now isn’t much better.
Snowy mountains in Sundance, Utah
You’ve probably already heard the term “The Great Resignation”. Millions of people are quitting their jobs. In fact, 2.9% of the entire workforce in the United States quit in August. And why? Many times, people are leaving these jobs without another one immediately lined up; however, studies show that generous government benefits aren’t fueling this trend. Some workers are undoubtedly leaving to seek out better pay and benefits, but that doesn’t account for everyone.

People are leaving their jobs because the fragility of their lives, of all our lives, has been thrust in front of them over the past 2 years. We’ve sat in quiet apartments by ourselves, spending most of our days locked behind a desk and countless Zoom calls. We’ve been forced to confront our mortality in jobs that used to provide stability and decent pay. We’ve been separated from friends and family for holidays, weekend trips, and casual weekday dinners. And we’ve all had enough.

But, at the same time, many of us have been awarded new freedoms that we’re not willing to give up as regulations lift and things open up. The pandemic released us from sitting in traffic to arrive at a job where we would stare at a computer. Instead, we can leave our home office for an hour in the middle of the day to exercise or pick up our kids and not worry about being watched as we exit and re-enter the building. If we’re having a bad day, we can do the same work in our pajamas that we would have done in a suit.

So — this leaves us with a big question. What do people want?
Group of happy people with sparklers
At ChattyKathi, we’ve been trying to answer this question for over a year. At first, we were just trying to find answers on how to create stronger friendships. But, as we devoured countless academic studies and publications, studied methodology in friendship psychology books, and commissioned the expertise of friendship psychologist Dr. Marisa G. Franco, we discovered the answer to something more.

What we want, and what turns out is more important than raises, promotions, and team go-cart outings, is to feel like we belong. Social belonging is the feeling of security and support when an individual experiences acceptance, inclusion, and celebration of their identity as part of a group. Essentially, to experience social belonging, we need to feel like we’re in a safe space free to be ourselves, void of competition and open to vulnerability. We need the freedom to be human beings, and the flexibility to have the emotions of human beings. We need to feel trusted, and be trusted, with something important to us and to our community (for more on this, see our Guide to Belonging).

These concepts have been deeply ingrained into the ChattyKathi product. First, we help you separate your organization into small, 4 to 10 person groups based on everyone’s interests. Then, we help you start chats for these groups over SMS or Slack. As groups begin to respond to their personalized conversation prompts, our algorithm decides what to send them next. Each of our 1,000+ questions has been written with friendship psychology concepts in mind, helping members of your organization to create deeper bonds with other members of your community. And, because the questions are sent over Slack or SMS, people can respond whenever it works for them. With ChattyKathi, even the busiest of executives, parents, and travelers can better feel like they belong in your organization.

Though we learned about these concepts while building ChattyKathi.com, we would be remiss not to incorporate them into the culture we’re building internally. Our company motto is “flexibility with integrity”. Our workforce is completely remote, and we don’t require anyone to work a typical ‘9 to 5’. If someone on our team wants to wake up at 3 am and work until 8 am, take their kids to school, take a nap, and then put in a few more hours in the afternoon, that works for us. If someone is taking care of an elderly parent and can only work part-time in the evenings, that’s ok too. As long as we’re willing to put in the time and effort, our personal schedule restrictions, it turns out, have nothing to do with whether or not we’re capable of doing a job. Moreover, our team is all part of a ChattyKathi chat, so that even during the busiest weeks we take a moment to talk about the things outside of work that are important to us, answer a silly question (for example, would you rather be covered in scales or fur), and remind us that we’re all human beings doing our best to make an early-stage startup successful.

Our product and our company are asynchronous, because we know that feeling like we belong is the opposite of feeling judged, monitored and restricted by our place of work. Our product helps organizations build belonging organically, by giving people the opportunity to engage in conversations about what’s important to them at the times that work best for them. Our work culture is much the same. By trusting people to complete their jobs, reach deadlines, and ask for help when they need it without making these same people feel like they’re being judged, monitored and restricted, we know we can build a better product and a better company.

If you’re interested in trying out ChattyKathi with your team, organization, or school, shoot us an email at ericka@chattykathi.com. We’d love to hear from you!
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