A couple of weeks ago, in our ever-evolving quest for the best and most efficient team communication, we took the plunge and decided to try going ‘Slack-free’.
OK, it was only for a week, but as anyone working in a business environment using a tool like Slack for their internal comms would I’m sure agree, this was quite a big deal!
Some took to it like ducks to water, appreciating the quieter time and reduced distractions to give their productivity a boost. Others weren’t so keen, leaning on email threads, Facebook Messenger, and other digital tools like Marco Polo, a video messaging app, to scratch that online itch.
On the following Monday, we returned to Slack, but with a slightly different approach. What did we learn from our ‘Slackless week’?
The value of each message
It made us seriously consider the purpose and significance of what we are communicating, and how we are communicating it.
Can a ‘conversation’ that takes 10 minutes to cover by typing in Slack be satisfied simply by a 30 second face-to-face chat?
Could you save up a few minor questions to get the most out of that disruption to your colleague’s concentration? If you’re in the middle of a period of deep-work, the last thing you need is someone constantly bombarding you with questions, just because they can. Make the most of each interaction, you’ll both be better off for it.
One central place for work chat
Its so easy to jump from Asana to Slack to email to IRL, but there is a huge advantage in having all client related chat in one place. By removing the option to revert to a Slack message, we kept all task and project comments in our project management software (where it’s supposed to be!), therefore easy to search for if we need to refer back to them in future. Seems simple, but after our experimental week we removed all project channels from our Slack, keeping it purely for team convos, and gifs. Don’t forget the gifs.
Making a true connection
Personally, this humble exercise brings to mind a bigger problem. Our need to be constantly connected. And I talk about connection in a digital sense, as we’re not really maintaining any kind of real connection while we’re stooping over our devices, zoning out of the real world. Forcing people into a real-life conversation makes a refreshing and necessary change. Sure, its generally accepted that digital communication is the first choice for businesses around the world – it’s convenient, immediate, and keeps a record for future referral. But can, or should, it ever replace F2F communication? Honestly, I think it’s a poor substitute when trying to foster trust, transparency, credibility – all things that we value highly at DN.
Lose the phone
I’ve written before about the horror of spending a day without my mobile, but the power of unintentionally disconnecting for a little while. Honestly, how often do you choose to be without devices so that you can reduce your screen time? We are so used to being constantly available, and having everyone and everything available to us, that we’ve forgotten what real solitude actually is. When you’re waiting for the train, if you are the one person listening to the birds or taking in the sunshine, you are the weirdo. Have a look around…95% of the people around you are looking at a phone. We can never be alone when we’ve got our trusty sidekick!
Slack is only one app, sure. But turning off those notifications, or even better removing that app from your phone altogether, means you’re a fraction less likely to yearn for that message, which lets face it probably isn’t all that important anyway!
The long and short of it…removing a communication tool helped us to communicate better – go figure.