Exactly why I don’t use Slack

I have never understood the appeal of Slack to replace/supplement email. It seems to me it is just another multi-channel inbox of messages and notifications. I’d rather manage my email than email AND Slack. I am able to manage emails well enough now that I seldom have more than 10 in my inbox at a time and virtually no spam, I don’t want synchronous communication, I prefer asynchronous so I can focus on deep work and the important. The only “Slack like” program I use is Asana, which enables communication within the platform for all projects and tasks, as well as documents. It is far more full featured than Slack and integrates seamlessly with email if/as needed.

“Due to the surfeit of communication Slack creates and the interruptions that causes, the very system meant to facilitate work actually prevents users from getting work done, causing a slew of other issues.”

I’m also sure that this is true as well, “The software, of course, isn’t entirely to blame. As I wrote in May, a lot of complaints about Slack’s impact on people’s lives arise from corporate culture and, in some cases, people’s own inability to set boundaries.” BUT, programs like Slack, in my opinion, tend to foster the corporate culture cited above because instant messages implies an expectation of an instant reply.

I’m sure, as the article points out, some benefit from Slack while others do not. I tried it and found email to be less intrusive and more productive. Obviously, everyone’s use case is different.

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Employees want a way to have quicker, lower-expectation conversations than they feel they can have in email. One of Slack’s benefits is that it does an end run around the formality that can build up in an organization’s email use. I think this is the biggest benefit of Slack. When it is adopted in an organization, the organization usually sheds some old ways of working that were time-consuming. It may be that they then have to walk back their use of Slack, but they’ve still gained the one-time advantages of adopting it.

There’s also a minor productivity benefit to not having to process chats. You can just glance at a whole screen and be done with it, forever. It’s like if email was sent in auto-destructing, FYI mode by default. The time savings from this adds up.

Response time in chat is also effective. Email can kill a synchronous conversation due to sending/checking delays. Good chat, like Slack, is instant and you can really work closely with someone through it. Unlike the phone, you can work closely with two people at once. Maybe three or four if you’re good. :slight_smile: This kind of concentrated shallow work should create more time for deep work.

Chat channels organized by topic are also better than email threads on those same topics. Yes, topic/interest channels should probably be muted by default. But, anyone can join and review the history. And if the topics are labeled well enough, anyone in the organization will feel free to participate in them, which is good for cross-training, avoiding silos, etc. (For example, we have a video-marketing channel instead of posting our video marketing ideas in the digital team channel, even though digital is the most interested.)

Also, people seem to feel more free to create topical channels than they do to create discussion projects in PM software.

Apologies for the lack of organization in this comment, but these are some of the reasons I think Slack has benefitted the places I’ve worked.

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I couldn’t agree more. I don’t get Slack, or Yammer, or all the similar systems. I tried a a year-long pilot having one of my teams exclusively use Yammer (which was just plain terrible) for a while and then Slack (which was prettier and more functional). It was an epic fail. Everyone was annoyed by it. We ended up having to manage both Slack and e-mail because Slack was not enough to eliminate the use of e-mail. I couldn’t permanently get anything out of Slack to save to my file system. It was a total pain. E-mail works really well. It can be a pain to process and manage, no doubt. I complain about it, myself. But it’s more useful than, and has the least amount of friction (in terms of sending, receiving and finding messages and attachments) of anything else I’ve tried.

Sorry to be negative. I’m just sharing my experience. I get that lots of teams seem to really LOVE Slack.

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Next to Maui, this would be paradise.

I despise Slack. It’s like being in a room where everyone is talking at once, along with the residue of previous conversations.
If that isn’t enough, it can interrupt you at any time, and puts you at everyone’s beck and call.

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Slack has been amazing for myself and the three other teachers on my team. We teach virtually and live across the state. It has replaced all of our email communication and it has the added benefit of feeling connected to my colleagues. I get that asynchronous can be advantageous and the one guy in our team who works better that way has developed the expectation that it isn’t immediate for him.

This works well for us because we are a relatively small team and everyone has bought in. (We also understand and use threads, which helps so much) It will be easier to expand with more of our arts team in the future because we have made it normal for us.

Face to face is best, in all circumstances where it is available. Slack doesn’t solve any of the organisational issues with e-mail - it just moves them around a bit IMO.

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… if you allow it…

Personally, I’m still not close to being convinced (and use it sparsely as a result). And I’ve disabled any and all notifications, be it on mobile, in browser or native app

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Yeah, after my initial tirade, I can see some of the benefits.
I don’t think those benefits outweigh the costs.

We don’t use Slack at work but a self hosted instance of RocketChat (very similar), there are definitely advantages. My boss won’t send me an email to ask me to open the door if he’s in a meeting and someone needs to get in, but a chat message works just fine. If I miss it then I miss it, but often I see it in time to let the person outside into our offices. In particular after moving from a place where most of us were on one floor and in close proximity to being spread out over 5 floors it’s no longer easy to just pop by someone’s office to ask a question on the way to/from the bathroom/kitchen, so chat serves us well in that respect.

I also find chat to have some advantages over forums - chat moves quickly and is great for one off questions, whereas a forum is longer living. Especially with my degree forum participation contributes towards your grade, but sometimes you have a “dumb” question you don’t particularly want on the record and chat is nice for that. The same can be applied to email vs chat too.

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For small, close-knit, but geographically dispersed groups, Slack is amazing.

It is not email, if you think it is another kind of email, you need to experience it to understand.

The one-to-many, real-time and close to real-time chat feature is very different than email.

I can post a quick question to my technical peers “how do I do x?”, and instantly, or in a few minutes, I have several very workable options from different people with different knowledge and experience.

If I can’t wait for the answer (phone calls, client work, other work), I can pop back in later and find the info waiting for me.

Can’t do that with email or an email list.

Now there are lots of aspects of Slack that are distracting, can become time sinks, etc. but this collaborative chat is low-friction, easy to use, and just works.

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Of course you can.

That’s not to say at all that chat based apps and email are equivalent, they’re obviously not, but you’ve literally described how every office has used email since like the 90s.

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No you can’t. Don’t want to argue, bit seems clear you are criticizing Slack from afar and have never used it.

Email does not have real-time chat capability and does not provide a built-in multi-user collaborative model.

By email I mean pure IMAP/POP/SMTP mail. Not proprietary collaborative features bolted on to a basic email client - at that point, you have a Slack type of product.

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I have to agree with @Wolfie on this one. Let me rewrite what you like about Slack:

I can email a quick question to my technical peers “how do I do x?”, and instantly, or in a few minutes, I have several very workable options from different people with different knowledge and experience.

If I can’t wait for the answer (phone calls, client work, other work), I can check my email later and find the info waiting for me.

If people want to further the conversation, they can Reply All (multi-user collaboration).

This could also be done with a listserv, a Discourse instance, GroupMe, text messaging, etc.

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This is a big, but subtle difference - emailing to a list of people has a lot more friction than just popping into a Slack and posting a quick question or comment.

Again, it isn’t obvious until use Slack, and until you use it for a while.

At first, I had the same reaction that Slack seemed like a fancy version of IRC chat and I had no time to waste in online chat forums.

But when I had to use Slack (for various business groups that I didn’t have a choice) the light bulb went off and it has become much more useful and more productive than email.

Really - you have to experience it - then you might have a better appreciation for why their IPO valued the company at billions of dollars and is considered “a thing” and not just another email app.

I’m not trying to convince anyone, I just think saying Slack is worthless and email is better is really unfair. It may not be for you, but cars were shunned by a lot of horse riders too, for quite a while :wink:

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For me this is the problem with this type of conversation via email. If I get an email I feel like I’m expected to respond, rather than anyone it was sent to, and if the person or people who reply before me don’t hit reply all then you could be wasting your time sending the same answer, or cause confusion by sending a contradictory answer. With chat there is no option to skip reply all unless you deliberately go to a 1:1 chat instead, so everyone can see previous answers, and there is much less of an implication that everyone who has received the message should reply.

All of this comes down to the culture of where you work of course!

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I don’t use slack anymore that’s true. It’s too much of a security risk so we moved to MS Teams which is functionally equivalent. But your point has basically changed to one of decreased/increased friction, which is a point I agree with situationally, but e-mail has been used in the way you describe for far longer than Slack, Teams, Cisco WebEx (or whatever they’re calling it now), or it’s other competitors have existed.

I certainly have not argued that e-mail is better. Email is the most misused technology in the corporate world, but to say it can’t do the same things that Slack does is nonsense, and to say that Slack is always better or more appropriate is also not realistic.

So yes, I’ve used Slack plenty, and I use Teams on a daily basis which does the same stuff (and more). I was actually on the team that helped evaluate Slack alternatives when it became clear we couldn’t use it anymore for security reasons. It’s great, situationally. It’s more useful if you’re geographically distributed from your colleagues. It’s convenient for some kinds of discussions, but people got the same kind of stuff done just fine with e-mail before Slack came along; it’s not a transformative technology nor is it especially novel. I’ve also been in environments that used to use MS Messenger for more or less the same purposes when it still existed.

I’m absolutely talking MS Exchange when I talk about email because that’s going to be the experience of most people in a work environment.

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A quick email to all, “Thanks, Rose! I’m all set.”

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I certainly fall in the camp of being a fan of Slack. I disagree that it is the same as email. We have a small, dispersed team of 11 and we rarely use email internally anymore. We have channels by topic for some discussions, DM’s for conversations that only need to involve particular parties in our organization, and I can ping someone in Slack while on a call with a customer and get feedback in real time. Two of us work in the same office and I can be on a call and get input from my partner in realtime. We have worked hard to get our team not to use their email inbox as their to-do list and only process emails in blocks during their day, otherwise they can’t get their work done. We use Slack very effectively and add some other apps in to the program to make it even more effective.

That is exactly how email lists work. I actually miss that system and forums, whole nice, require more effort to come in and view. I am using slack for the Mastermind group but I see no real benefits to it over an email system or a forum. It just gives me one more place I have to go to keep up with stuff.

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