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Transparency is Key to Making Slack Work Within Your Organization

Dinah Spritzer

October 25, 2021

3

min read

Slack was meant to be the panacea for all the pains produced by email overload. But, for many, Slack, Teams, and other collaboration platforms have become yet another weapon in an arsenal of work-killing collaboration platforms.

Even pre-pandemic, employees at large companies were, on average, sending more than 200 Slack messages per week. That number, according to our exclusive research, has ballooned to nearly 300.

Then remote work made us Slack-dependent. From February to March of 2021, the time people spent sending Slack messages grew from one hour and 15 minutes to almost two hours. When the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing, remote workers were flooded with notifications.

Project collaboration still happens, but side channels that are barely (if at all) work-relevant are prevalent, and there is a lot DM-ing — only 20 percent to 30 percent of messages are sent on public channels according to Slack’s own data (from 2018). There’s a big risk of exclusion here, and it can hurt collaboration and employee wellbeing.  

But, there is a way to use Slack and similar services without wasting your employees’ time. You just need the right tools to measure and manage usage.

The good news is that while most collaboration platforms do not yet provide those tools, Time is Ltd. does. We can break down how your teams and departments are using Slack, the discrepancies between public and private messages, in different group chats, and more. You’ll have the data to act and get in front of overtime hours spent clearing notifications and DMs — in addition to email, meetings, and more.

Based on our research, the ideal benchmark for transparent communication is that 70% of all Slack messages sent are in public channels. We also suggest positive messaging across the company to promote the use of public channels, and transparent discussions with managers and employees about ideal levels of activity. From there, put the dashboard into alert mode, and track how teams are moving towards more public and transparent communication.

An array of studies show that team members are more likely to share information and communicate openly when they deal with a task that requires collaboration outside the team. Transparency is thus a great way to avoid silos and boost team performance. Managers should communicate this expectation of transparency to employees and new hires on a regular basis, and make sure to lead by example in using public channels.

There are other ways to ensure that Slack works for your workforce. Measuring response times to Slack messages, comparing them against benchmarks, and working with your teams to manage workloads more effectively will improve both employee morale and productivity — more time to work usually means better, more focused work.  

According to Time is Ltd. data, the median response time for Slack users in 2020 was 16.3 minutes. For email, it was 72 minutes.

If your employees are interrupting their work four times per hour to answer instant messages, it’s very likely that their ability to focus on strategy and long-term goals is difficult on a good day — it also causes them tremendous stress, research reveals. You can use Time is Ltd. tools to promote a culture of asynchronous communication, even with instant messaging that was designed to increase synchronicity.

If you really want to get your collaboration platforms to work for all of your employees, contact us for a free consultation.

wRITTEN BY

Dinah Spritzer