How asynchronous work made Spotify’s Vicki Tan better at her job

4 min read
Eli Woolery
  •  Oct 28, 2021
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The pandemic shifted the way we work and influenced our creative processes, but the question stands: What will we carry forward?

On the most recent episode of The Design Better podcast, we posed this question to Vicki Tan, who has leveraged her background in psychology at companies that have changed the way we travel, think about our mental health, and access music. Now an associate principal product designer at Spotify, Vicki is using her background to change the way she thinks about her work, too.

For Vicki, the past year and a half has been an excellent practice in asynchronous collaboration. With the constant barrage of incoming messages on Slack and email, she often felt as if she didn’t have the cognitive bandwidth to perform really good work amid the anxious chatter. This was especially true as she lacked the stimuli she needed for her normal creative process, like traveling or going to museums. And as her team members moved in with family or left their home cities in search of more space, she often had to do without real-time input when shaping ideas.

Rather than wait for responses from colleagues in different time zones, though, Vicki decided to embrace this asynchronous lifestyle. She found that when she went along with her life, taking a walk or cooking dinner, her ideas matured on their own time. Then, when it came time to collaborate with her teammates, found her ideas weren’t only more refined, but that she could more clearly communicate them, leading to more efficient execution.

“Working in this way forced me to build more confidence and conviction around my ideas,” Vicki says.

Want more insight from Vicki?

Learn why she regularly takes a sabbatical from her work, how her team does research, and why ‘finding umami’ is important to figuring out the core mission of a company — all on the Design Better Podcast.

Listen to the full episode here

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard