Protocol | Workplace

Doist encourages more asynchronous work with the new version of Twist

The revamped Twist hopes to help workplaces get better at asynchronous work.

Screenshot of Twist Inbox Zero

Twist has launched a new design with more features to improve asynchronous work.

Screenshot: Twist

Twist, the messaging app from Doist, has a laser-sharp focus on asynchronous work. With its brand new redesign, Twist is pressing its advantage with an async-first, remote approach, and hoping to help other companies do async better.

"[Others have] adopted the wrong version where it's meetings all day long, chat all day long," CEO Amir Salihefendić said. "People are not really taking advantage of what remote has to offer."

The new Twist launched Tuesday morning, and has a number of new elements aimed to make the work communication experience calmer and more productive. Salihefendić said throughout the development process, the product team weighed every possible iteration against their core values. Async-first — a communication style where no one expects an immediate response — was No. 1.

"Whenever you [decide between] two things, like including presence indicators or not, you would pick not including them because you can't go against the async-first nature of the product," Salihefendić said.

The other core values: focus, transparency and speed. "We stripped it down to four we really cared about and that people could remember and integrated that into the company and the culture," Salihefendić said.

Doist's asynchronous-first journey started back in 2014, when the company adopted Slack. Members loved it — until they realized the constant communication was exhausting and impractical with employees spread across the globe. So they started building Twist, and launched it to the world in 2017.

But in 2017, getting people on board with asynchronous work was hard. Those were the pre-pandemic days, when remote work was a quirk some employees or one-off companies adopted.

"You have to create a tool, but you also have to change how people work and live, which is the harder part," Salihefendić said.

The team went back to the drawing board and began working on the new Twist to make their way of async work more accessible.

Some of Twist's new elements include an easier way to get to the coveted Inbox Zero, a greater focus on threaded conversations and comprehensive keyboard shortcuts. Threaded conversations are the main unit of messaging on Twist, as opposed to one-off chats. This is part of what differentiates it from Slack and Microsoft Teams. And with focused threads, there's not as much pressure to respond in real time.

Twist spent a lot of time improving threads, making it so you can connect related threads together.

"You're linking knowledge together," Salihefendić said. "This is also very powerful; as a team builds core stuff, everything gets interconnected."

For Doist and Twist, the async mission is everything. It's more like a "religion than a market case," Salihefendić said. He said it doesn't even need to be Twist that becomes the async tool to rule all, as long as people start to understand the benefits of this type of work. And with the pandemic, they are: People are talking about it all over the internet.

"We have been at this for a long time," Salihefendić said. "We could have easily said, 'We'll just focus on Doist.' It's brutally hard to do this, we're competing against companies with almost unlimited budgets and unlimited people."

Photo Illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: First, a brief update on the Facebook Files, as more stories start to come out. Then, Owen Thomas joins the show to discuss PayPal's reported interest in acquiring Pinterest, and why that deal might actually make sense for both sides. Janko Roettgers then discusses the good, bad and complicated of Netflix's last few weeks, before Lizzy Lawrence joins the show to talk about the world of productivity influencers.

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