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Is group chat ruining your team's output?

Is group chat ruining your team's output?

group chat productivity killrt.png

A [small] section of dev twitter is erupting in flames over Abe Winter's github manifesto on Slack and teamwork. Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood even stepped up into the fray in the anti-slack camp:

jeff atwood coding horror.PNG

Winter's argument against slack is that it "destroys teams’ ability to think, plan & get complex work out the door."

What do you think?  


I'll kick this off. 

full disclosure: I'm a millennial who loves communicating in gifs and fragmented text so slack is my perf playground #slacklyfe 

  1. In an open office environment, slack is a godsend for those quick questions that don't merit an email or a time-consuming desk visit. 
  2. I agree with Winter that the scrolling is broken.
  3. I hate email threading and long emails in general and am all about killing email threads.
  4. I agree with Winter that slack replacing documentation is a real risk (and I've seen it happen).
  5. I don't think slack contributes to toxic work environments as much as Winter argues (I think that most of his frustrations can be tracked to open office environments and ineffective work communication in general)
  6. I love love love communicating in gifs and in a work environment without slack, it's something I miss every day. (Joy is important to me.) 

This is a good one!! Email works for me even for quick questions called out in subject lines.. I do find instant messengers intrusive at times.. might work if general communication guidelines were followed!

jmatherdouradalkilligrew‌ curious to get your thoughts?


I lived in the Slack communications universe for about two years with a remote team of web developers.  I both loved and hated Slack.  Being able to bypass email and zip a quick (and time critical) question was sweet.  However, it soon became too easy to resist and the constant interruptions killed our dev flow.  Suddenly everything became critical--and thus, nothing could be managed as such.  We recognized it quickly and created rooms where non-devs could mingle with the dev team, so they had their code laden happy communications place and they could leave the general room when they needed some...

serenity now.jpg

If I had Slack right now--we'll heck yeah, I'd use it.  We have IM in our open office and I love it.  The positives far outweigh the negatives.  To me it's more of a personal preference that I try to gauge and see if my recipient is an office IM adopter.  And if they are not, I go with email.  (quick aside:  I'm not sure which is better, a too-long Slack scroll or an email thread that if printed out would fill a small binder) But I do agree that if not policed properly, it's easy for Slack or any other IM tool to suck productivity from the greater group.

My vote:  Slack On, but please do so with thought for your entire team.

There is a tool for everything, but that doesn't mean there is a tool that does everything. Slack is just another form of communication and can be valuable if used property. Everyone uses each tool differently, so this argument can be made with each scenario. 

I would disagree that Slack overwhelms your best employees with your worst. If they truly are your best employees then they will continue to find ways to perform at the highest level. True leadership would set ground rules and have an actionable plan where progress and milestones can be tracked. 

To me Slack is comparable to responding to emails on your phone, but at least you have a lame disclaimer about how you can't proof read or structure your sentences/paragraphs properly because you are typing like it's a text message. 

On the bright side, we can now use Twitter with its 280 character limit.

Personally, I think tools like Slack, Lync, etc. are extremely distracting. For teams that are located in different geographic locations, it can make sense to use them - on occasion. But too often I have found that it's a tool for socializing and chitchatting. If I need to get real work done I have to be able to unplug.

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