Slack is an effective and powerful tool, but like other software companies, it’s goal is to draw as much of your attention as possible. As a fully-remote workforce, we utilize Slack, but encourage Aptilians to avoid getting constantly sucked into Slack.
To advocate for your own time, find a few hours each day where you can disable notifications and close Slack completely (NB: Always disable them during meetings). Be sure to communicate these hours with your team.
We find the Google Calendar App helpful for cutting down on distraction during meetings. This automatically update your status in Slack so your teammates know why you might be slow to respond.
Slack is a firehose of information, most of it old and outdated. Be proactive in the generation of artifacts that bring permanence to decisions. Use Slack to collaborate on how those artifacts are created and distributed, but don’t replace the artifacts with Slack.
When to Use Slack
- Artifact/Document Sharing: For visibility, share important artifacts to the appropriate channels. It’s even better if the shared artifact has a native commenting commenting functionality (e.g. Confluence, Google Docs, etc.)
- Quick Decisions: Hold asynchronous conversation within small, focused groups wherein there isn’t a large range in familiarity of the subject matter for all members of a channel. Be cognizant of the scope of these conversations, and avoid drawn-out threads.
- Meeting Announcements: Give a quick heads-up about a meeting you’re going to schedule can help people prep for the meeting and avoid them potentially missing the meeting.
- Recognition: Give praise to another teammate for a job well done or announce a win in #Victory.
If you've decided that Slack is the best channel for your message and you need people to see it in a timely manner, @mention them. Even still, due to the volume of slack messages that may occur on a daily basis, keep in mind that some people may end up missing that message.
Before sending a Direct Message (DM) in Slack, consider if the message is better suited for a channel. Posting to channels may ultimately save you time, as all project stakeholders are kept in the loop.
When to Not Use Slack
Some exchanges or interactions aren’t well suited for Slack, and you should feel empowered to suggest moving those conversations to other channels, usually Zoom. Examples:
- Divergent Thinking: If you’re discussing multiple potential scenarios of a project or solution, there's a strong case for hopping into a tool where you can diagram your thoughts in a visual format (e.g. Zoom, Miro, Figma, etc.)
- Asking Multiple Questions: If you anticipate having more than one or two succinct questions on a topic, you may want to schedule a meeting to discuss your concerns with other stakeholders. Slack messages/threads become hard to track. And due to their asynchronous nature, not everyone will have a fair chance to opine on important matters at the same time.
- Giving Nuanced Feedback: While we encourage the exchange of both positive and negative feedback at Aptible, we find that Slack messages limit our ability to deliver feedback effectively.
- Making Asks or Requests: For any type of request where you really need a response but it isn’t time-sensitive, email is likely the best channel. Alternatively, consider using one of our task management tools (e.g. ClickUp, JIRA, etc.). If you’re not sure what channel to use, consider asking the person for their communication preferences, or consult their “Working With Me” Guide.
We have a system of channels in Slack. To respect the time and attention of your colleagues, please keep channels tidy and use threads if you anticipate replies. Prefixes:
- #Product- channels are used to keep the entire company informed of developments in our various product offerings.
- #Project- channels are used for quick communication among stakeholders of a specific project. Be conscious of letting these channels grow to a size where some members may lack context for the majority of conversations.
- #Team- channels are used for coordination among functional teams (e.g. Customer Success, Product Management, Sales, etc.).
- #Squad- channels are used for coordination among cross-functional project teams.
- #Whats- channels, such as #whats-cookin and #whats-readin, are reserved for merrymaking and human connection with your peers.