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I Broke Up With Slack Yesterday

May 10, 2016

I Broke Up With Slack Yesterday

Or at least we’re on a break. You might already be familiar with Samuel Hulick’s breakup letter to Slack. His article was making the rounds in our office again this morning, coincidentally the day after I deleted Slack from my phone.

Slack and I had a good couple years. The interface is great, the mobile experience is fantastic, and I’ve always felt connected through the app. That feeling of connection is a big reason why Slack has been so successful. Slack is selling the feeling of connectivity that many want to feel at work. But constant engagement has its drawbacks.

"Moreover, while messaging enables instant communication, it often doesn’t solve the work challenge." (Jim Lundy Aragon Research blog)

I deleted Slack for the same reasons Samuel pointed out — you should read it if you haven’t. The alerts kept pulling me into the app. I was getting too many messages — and not only messages from my work team. I also fielded messages from my other Slack groups.

The volume of messages is not the only problem. If you’re a sender and want a reply, it’s difficult to know if you’ll get a response in a minute or a couple hours. If you’re a recipient, it’s hard to know which messages need immediate attention, and which ones you can get back to later. The only way to know for sure, is to switch from your task to the Slack app, consequently putting a hold on your productivity.

App switching is part of the larger issue known as context switching. Context switching, or changing tasks, requires a mental reset. This reset can cost an individual up to 40% of his or her mental time. When you have to switch in and out of an app hundreds of times per day it takes a lot of mental energy and time away from work.

And that's probably the biggest reason I broke up with Slack. Slack feels like work - you're in tune with the team, but it isn't work. Conversations aren't deliverable. Conversations are only the start of the work process. And it sounds like users are waking up to this. Instead of providing a solution to the email distraction, Slack has just replaced it.

It’s not just me — My company is breaking up with Slack too.

At Samepage, we’ve built chat into our collaboration platform. Just a few months ago, our Slack client was full of messages, channels, and life. Now Slack is a ghost town as we trade messages in Samepage, right alongside our work.

"Business users need to get work done and the more they can work seamlessly, the faster and more effectively the work can be done." (Jim Lundy)

You might think that after spending a lot of time with a tool, it would be tough to transition. It wasn’t. Communication is just one piece of the work technology stack. When you have a tool that's more tightly integrated into your workflow, the transition away from Slack is easy and natural. After all, we're all here to create a great application, not just converse.

Looking for what's next - Unified Communication & Collaboration:

Collaboration is about more than chat. Great conversations form the foundation for teams to create remarkable work product. Collaboration tools on the market now are focusing on that foundation while missing out on creating the real value - the work. The current crop of communication tools allow unprecedented access to coworkers; the challenge is turning that access into productivity.

Solving the productivity problem is exactly what the next generation of tools needs to focus on. By unifying our communication and work platforms, we can leverage our conversations and create great content in real-time.

So if you're considering breaking up with Slack, now is the time. Unified tools that combine communication and functionality you need to actually get work done are coming into their own. As Alan Lepofsky put it, "Organizations don't need more tools, they need tools to do more."