Passing ‘peak Slack’
Have we passed 'peak Slack?’ There was a time when everyone I knew enthused about it, and how it had transformed communication in their workplaces for the better.
But while Slack cuts down on the number of internal emails flying around, it can also increase the total volume of messages each team member needs to deal with. And unlike emails, there’s an expectation that they’ll be responded to quickly.
So, everyone might be more in touch with what everyone else is doing, but at the expense of their own productivity and focus. I’ve worked at places where I’ve quietly got annoyed at people for not answering a message quickly on a Saturday evening (why won’t they just check their messages at all times of day and night???), and I’ve felt the pressure of trying to respond to a flood of questions in a timely manner while not losing my train of thought on the work I’m trying to do myself.
The solution to these problems is probably a combination of discipline and software design. Maybe the ideal collaboration tool for many workplaces is something closer to email but in a dedicated, professional space.
This app would have all of Slack’s bells and whistles like third-party app integrations, but with less of an emphasis on immediacy. Instead, there would be an expectation that people would check their messages three times a day. Yes, it would be slower, but for many workplaces, that might be just the right pace.
It’s worth reading Doist’s post from last year
about how they shifted to “calmer, more organized, and more productive communication” by replacing Slack with their own custom-built tool that puts quality over immediacy. It also removes the 'online’ status indicator, and encourages people to not be logged into the app all the time.
That app, Twist
, is available now but hasn’t received anywhere near the level of hype Slack has. It might well be worth giving it a go if you’re finding real-time chat has lost its allure at your company.
And if you stick with Slack, maybe it’s time to enforce some strict rules around how you use it as a company.