I Turned Slack <s>Off</s> for a Week.

Katie Womersley:

“(…) our global spread means almost 24/7, Slack is a hub of activity and people feel they’re missing out on work. This is especially tough on our Asia-Pacific teammates, who end up left out of discussions and conversations, and folks with responsibilities who needed to work different hours and be offline during parts of their workday (like parents!).”

I’m so familiar with this feeling. I experience and observe this in various teams and projects and it doesn’t matter if you use Slack or something similar. People tend to lock themselves into addictive behavior, and Slack is simply one of them.

As a freelancer you often switch projects on a daily or even faster basis. While this can keep your job quite interesting, it’s incredibly hard to manage communication with the various teams. I’m regularly part of a development team in other companies, and as such I want and need to have conversations with other people. People ask me stuff, I ask them stuff. Nowadays I’m glad this doesn’t happen via Email anymore but we have tools such as Slack that make it very comfortable to communicate and enable remote teams to do their jobs better. However, there’s a key issue here that Katie is mentioning as well:

“Creating a calm, uninterrupted environment is important in an engineering team, but even more important is inclusivity to all our teammates.

Slack often does exactly the opposite. It’s not necessarily Slack’s fault, it’s how we as human beings behave. Tools like Slack allow us to write messages 24/7 which is great because regardless of where I am and when I do work or something comes to my mind I can post it and can be sure that the message is not getting lost and can be read by everyone. The issue is that people tend to read it immediately, they tend to enable push notifications for everything and have a constant fear of “missing out”.
Also, a lot of people tend to interpret communication guidelines quite differently resulting in @channel notifications for relatively irrelevant messages while others don’t notify people even if it’s a quite important note they make.

So Katie made an experiment of turning off notifications for a week and shares that she’s super happy. Here’s the thing: I did that for various times and as of today I still am unable to apply these settings constantly and forever. I see value in being notified about specific important things and there are various cases where people complained about me not being available or replying to their messages (simply because I forgot about it). I’d love to see Slack being better at supporting me to remind me to reply to messages I’ve just read but don’t want to reply immediately. I’d love to see people having an easier time and getting used to communicating asynchronously. Here’s Katie’s most important statement to finish this note:

“I want to create a workplace where everyone feels free be offline and do their thing, and feels confident and safe that their manager and teammates trust them to get on with their work. The trend of important conversations moving to asynchronous tools or to specific scheduled meetings means decisions are more intentional and thoughtful. It’s calmer, there’s less guilt involved, and it’s more inclusive.”

Source: “I Turned Slack Off for a Week. Here’s What Happened”

Written on as Note