Honestly, Slack is no better than email. In fact, its way too intrusive than emails. Though Slack serves as a very good instant messaging platform, it is not something that a CEO would love to have in his pocket all the time.
Before you jump into conclusions, I’ve mulled over the Slack notification issues literally everyday. And I’ve spent more time tweaking my Notification settings, than to just use Slack to discuss with my team.
Whenever I spoke about this in public, I’ve always been left alone, and pushed to a corner, saying that I’m literally mad for not liking Slack. To make sure I’m not wrong in this, I started experimenting with Slack. I enabled all the damn notification I had disabled earlier.
Broken blocks of work time
Over the past two months, I found that I was spending more time on Slack, talking to my team. But that is not the major issue. And since Slack gives me an idea that I would get an immediate response, my mind automatically started to disrespect the actual work someone could be doing. And I was expecting an immediate response from them.
While this is from my side of the story. I also started noticing that people developed the natural tendency to just swipe between the window to get to Slack, and get back to the message they received, almost immediately. Just like the way you would automatically wake up from the chair and run towards the door for your Amazon package.
Ultimately, this never gave me an unbroken block of time to work continuously. And unfortunately, Slack, has become an official addiction in organizations like ours and many others.
Policies and Slack
From the time I started realizing that Slack is about to take a huge hit on our productivity, I started experimenting with other tools like OS X Server, with iMessage Server on it. The major reason for this, is to respect our company’s policy.
We are the type of company where work stays at work. And it does not necessarily extend outside of our office. This is majorly for two reasons.
One, we work on some of the most sensitive stuff in the industry. Two, we want people to have life outside office hours. And everyone in our company agrees with that.
While I could go policing around Slack channels saying what intentions can go in, and what cannot, I do not want to be that kind of a bad cop. Slack, by itself is about to become a job by itself, for our team, when it goes beyond out control.
Slack easily has the tendency to go out of control, when it comes to notifications.
Something called ‘meaningful’ conversations
Here’s what everything boils down to for me. Since we truly believe in life after work, I want to make sure that anything and everything that is being discussed at Skcript is meaningful and worthy of something. Something that could go from a discussion to an actionable task.
Slack, as we all know, was never designed for deep, meaningful conversations. Emails could be ‘used’ for these conversations. And this ultimately, pushed us to build Allt.
Slack is incredibly good for discussing things that can live for a short term and could vanish. Think about this, how many Starred messages do you have right now in your Slack account? How many times have you thought about that and gotten back to it?
How many times have you faced an issue like this: You posted some interesting idea that you are pumped about to a channel. And someone just posted a funny GIF right after your message. The immediate next thing that happens? Well, you know the rest.
Emails will live
You receive the magic link on your email, to login into your Slack account. You receive a notification email from Slack (Which is delayed and good), when you do not have Slack open anywhere. Slack, demands your attention. Even via email.
Above all, I always have my email client open. Even if Slack is not open. The first thing I do when my flight lands, I check my email.
While I thought and signed up for Slack, thinking that it is going to help me send less emails. Ultimately, it never really did that. And it can’t do that either. iMessage or Whatsapp still exists and can solve the problem that Slack is trying to solve. May be the pitch was different.
I ultimately went from “Phew. Finally, less emails.” to “OMG. Tons to notifications to clear.”
Are you actually being productive
When was the last time you had a meaningful and productive conversation on Slack? Was there a situation where your CEO or HR informed you that you would get a pay rise on Slack? Or, would you really agree with your HR, when she/he sends you a message on Slack informing this? You would feel like this is not real, right? Email, validates such important conversations.
Not really sure if you can produce a Slack conversation as a proof to a jury, when you’re suing your company.
I do not hate Slack.
I don’t hate Slack nor do I have something against them. Stewart Butterfield has built a wonderful company and an amazingly scalable product. But honestly, I think the way we see Slack is where the problem is.
Slack is not something that can replace your emails or let you have serious conversations. It’s your water cooler area.