2 min read

How Slack ruined work

If you have a suspicious feeling that Slack is slowly taking over your time at work, you are not alone.
How Slack ruined work
"Slack was heralded as the product that would kill internal email chains. Instead, it's changed how we behave while in the office" by Sean Hargrave, WIRED

Group Chat: The Best Way to Totally Stress out you and your Team

"If you have a suspicious feeling that Slack is slowly taking over your time at work, you are not alone", Sean Hargrave continues.

Slack has a loyal following and has been growing like crazy, replacing and slashing internal email conversations at businesses across the globe. But the critics grow louder with every month that passes by, as psychologists, neuro scientists and productivity experts weigh in.

For example, Lucas Miller, Professor at the University of Berkeley warns:

"With email you know you probably have time to read through a bunch of messages and have a day to respond, Slack is instant and we get a rewarding hit of dopamine every time we respond to someone or someone reaches out to us to let us know a member of our 'work tribe' needs us. It makes us feel valued and informed, but it also makes us fearful every time an alert comes in that we’ll be out of the loop or ill-informed if we don’t check a message, even though very few truly need our instant attention."

So this results in workers ending up checking their messages about work instead of doing actual work. Its not so much that Slack is doing anything wrong, but the nature of how people are using instant messaging. It might just simply not be the best solution for a work environment.

Researcher Gloria Mark from the University of California says that they didn't find a huge difference in the amount of distraction and loss of productivity compared to email, but the significant added stress of being available all the time and being up to date with what's going on. The issue is, Slack does not distinguish between urgent and non-urgent and between relevant and non-relevant.

So what can you do?

There are a couple of things we suggest:

  • Announcements aren’t chats → Use Emails for that.
  • Treat chat like a sauna — stay a while but then get out. Best set 2-3 standard time that you check Slack per day and close it completely the rest of the day.
  • Treat group chats like conference calls — don’t get everyone on the line. The fewer employees are in it the better.
  • Tell people to “write it up” instead. Slack is great for brain farts, but not for structured thought. Respect the time of your colleagues and think through your feedback, notes, ideas or whatever else you want to regurgitate and convey to them.
  • Set expectations that it’s OK to be unavailable.