Slack has changed the game for team communication, but when it comes to remote work, it has some crucial design flaws. Notifications are disrupting and create a sense of urgency. Even though threads got added, it's way too easy to just type a few short messages after each other and clutter a channel up and lastly, it's just so easy to misunderstand sentiments.
After all, Slack would be an incredible product. Everyone uses it anyways, so it's easy to get started. The workspace and channel structure makes a lot of sense, it has tons of integrations, is easily extandable and has a range of other nice features. Using it just makes sense.
In this article, we are exploring how we can use Slack for efficient remote work. In it's core, this has three main parts:
For co-located teams, communicating via Slack has always been a game changer. No more need to walk across the office and disrupt everyone by doing small talk. Doing so on Slack is way easier. If you're in deep work, just silence the notifications for a while. After you leave the office, the work stays there. Nobody is going to bother you after-hours, unless it's urgent.
That's not the case in remote work. You'll get disrupted by the characteristic Slack tone at any time. Your manager may decide to set off an @channel call when it's 2AM in the morning for you. The Slack icon on your phone will be all-present.
As a manager, you should create a set of settings you require your new employees to set upfront and that count for your whole workspace. This should include:
The goal is to make it possible for everyone to work and reply on their own schedules.
Not everything can be ruled with settings. In some cases, there's a need for some ground rules. Before you let your employees even touch your workspace, make sure they understand these rules and act on them.
The goal here is to make communication as thoughtful and precise as possible, while keeping distractions and messages to a limit. Long-form chat messages can feel like a lot, but it helps other workers to read them, think about them, and reply on their own schedule (might be hours later!)
Not a lot of emotions can be transmitted through chat, so it's important to artificially create them. A lot of Slack communities have figured out how to do so, but if you haven't:
People can get distant, lonely and demotivated in a remote setting. Make it feel like everyone is part of the office shenanigans.
Slack is a great product, but at least in it's pure form not a good match for remote settings. If you can, go for an asynchronous alternative upfront. If you can't (as many teams do), at least make sure to follow these basic tips to reduce distractions, remove ambiguity from conversation and make everyone more productive