The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Matt Haughey shares some tips on how to use Slack in a manner more respectful of your team members. Things like:

Use emoji, bulleted lists, and bold and italic text styling to make your titles and key points stand out in longer messages. This is especially useful for announcements or meeting recaps.

That applies to any kind of digital communication, but sure. However, the more I read the article, the more it made something obvious: Slack, and other instant chat tools like it, are not the best way to communicate as a team by default.

Consider this suggestion:

You can also use DND to carve out focus time during your workday. Click the bell icon atop your channel menu and select a time. Your status in Slack will then communicate to colleagues that you’re heads-down working and they shouldn’t expect an immediate response.

This begs the question: why are most work environments defaulting to expect an immediate response? We’ve gotten so used to this behaviour that it’s expected and teams building tools like Slack have to build in features to combat the expectation.

Again:

Imagine you sent an email to your team with a new product idea. First you’re met with total silence, then later a reply or two. You have to guess how the rest of the team feels, or you can ask at your next team meeting.
What if that idea were posted in a team Slack channel instead? You’d likely see emoji reactions soon after posting. They might show support, indicate that the team wants to think about it, or note an approval.

A brand new product idea needs more than emoji reactions. Perhaps live chat is not the place for nuanced discussion.

At any rate, I like Slack — as far as instant chat tools go, it’s the best. But this post left me feeling like they have to explain away some of the functionality of the product. Many of the included tips just sounded like the practice of writing an effective email, the very thing Slack was created to replace.