Slack is truly a wonderful tool. I find it a lot more engaging in building a community than say Facebook Groups or other web tools. One reason is the ability to add and have other apps interact with it.
I won’t go into the technical aspects of how Slack is built, why it works out great and if alternatives like Mattermost are better?
Slack is increasingly used by companies and open source communities. I discovered Slack thanks to the WordPress.org project using it.
Reference: List of some impressive Slack customers
I have worked using Slack at both companies I have worked at in the past couple of years.
I conducted a very unscientific poll of Slack users, on how they used Slack.
- There were 9 respondents (so not really a big number).
- 2 are developers, 2 write for a living, 1 in human resources, 2 from marketing background.
- Almost all of them were and have been involved with the local WordPress community.
The Interesting Patterns*
How do you use Slack?
- 8 out of 9 used Slack for work and also for non-profit work.
- So not surprisingly 8 out of 9 use Slack on a Desktop app.
Fun: Only 1 out of 9 used Slack as part of a fan club.
How is Slack a distraction?
- Slack was considered a distraction for 6 out of 9 when working in a physical office.
- By comparison only 3 responded that it distracted them while working from home.
- All 9 respondents have had the option of doing both.
The Slack Admins
- 4 responded that the Slack channels in their teams were created by managers and bosses.
- The other 4 responded there was no discussion before new channels were created.
- Only one responded suggested there was some deliberations done before a new channel was created.
Again, 9 is not exactly a great way to find patterns.
Slack’s apparent anarchy
I have worked in a remote team for work using Slack and also worked in an office where Slack was used. I found that at a physical office, Slack is often used in the most irritating and distracting ways.
Managers use it to call people to their desks, people prioritize tasks based on their who is assigning them and chatting with them and worst offender is a simple message saying “Hello” with no further context.
Chat is realtime and decisions are taken often in realtime and often people feel left out. Sometimes people feel obliged to follow discussions incessantly which can lead to loads of distractions.
Slack advice for teams
- Create a code of conduct for Slack. Yes, it applies to companies too.
- Create specific channels with agendas and encourage people to discuss certain topics only in their related channels.
- Don’t have bots update messages in channels where discussions are taking place. It happens a lot. And its irritating for people involved.
- Create a channel preferably open to all – where everyone can discuss creating a new channel and it’s purpose. This means there is some though put to creating new channels and also is means people cannot simply create new or multiple channels doing more or less the same things.
- At a physical office, use Slack only for meetings or for important messages so others who missed out can catch up. If you want to say hello, go upto the person physically. 😛
- As a general rule – never give feedback or criticism in public, use DM. Especially when it is work related. Also always congratulate, thank and give credit in public.
- Always speak out and point out bad behaviour and do that publicly.
The last two points are extremely important. It should discourage people from bossing around and projecting power and allow more transparent, valuable and ultimately productive communication.
Do you have some more advice or tips you want to share, I would love to hear from you.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop in a comment.