The Dark Side of Working on Slack

Nothing is perfect, and there is a dark side of using Slack at work if your organization isn’t careful. What are some of the potential problems caused by having messaging platforms at work, and how can we mitigate it so we just get the benefits of Slack? This is meant to be a living document as I encounter new scenarios.

Issues to address

Many of these issues apply to chat apps in general, so don’t think you can avoid them by jumping ship to Teams.

  • Coworkers who lack Slack etiquette
  • Channel fatigue
  • Disruptions to concentration
  • think about your organization: what has disrupted your ability to get work done?

Potential ways to mitigate

I am by no means an expert, but these are some of the suggestions that I’ve either seen in the wild or personally tried.

  • Personal actions
    • Utilize Slack’s ability to “pause” notifications heavily - it shocks me so many people don’t even change the defaults.
  • Organization-level actions
    • Limit who can post to the large channels - at large companies, even a lot of signal can turn into noise if you aren’t careful.
    • Allowing people to work async.

Benefits of using Slack

Since I don’t want it to be entirely doom & gloom on this page, I’ll add some of the positive points.

  • Less formal than email, so conversation flows much easier - even if it’s async.
  • All the tooling Slack has created to expand the messaging experience - scheduling messages, Workflow Builder Automations, Slack Apps, reminder bots. Plenty of orgs don’t take advantage of it, but that’s their loss.
  • Friendly UX.

Complaint resources