We decided to extend the experiment another week, returning to Slack with only one room: a purely functional channel we call the Stories Room, where writers and editors update with what they are working on in a very strict format. We will also use Slack for direct messaging.At the end of next week, we'll assess our setup and make a decision about how to use Slack going forward.For your Friday afternoon edification, here's how the Motherboard team felt about the great Unslackening.Emanuel Maiberg, weekend editorIt was good. I don't miss it at all, at least not in terms of doing my job well. I miss the memes and the
"The longest I can go without checking it even if I'm incredibly busy is probably 10-15 minutes."
"I can't tell you a single problem that Slack solves."
By the way, that was my biggest complaint about Hedshack [the channel for vetting headlines]: everyone has a damn opinion about headlines and now that we're like, trained to do them and most people can write a decent one, everyone wants to say something about them, and i think in the end you get too many opinions syndrome and end up with a watered down headline.Slack trains you to distrust your coworkers because it's made for you to say things. I haven't gone to our site even once this week and felt like OH WOW WHY ARE WE DOING THIS STORY? or what a stupid headline. Everyone can function autonomously and is smart, especially under the supervision of really good editors.Kate Lunau, Canada editorSo, I felt waaaaaay less frantic on Monday and Tuesday, ie the early days of no Slack. Like, there wasn't a constant buzzing and humming behind me that needed my attention. But Jordan and I definitely felt sort of cut off from the rest of Motherboard.My big hope was for more face-to-face communication, which Jordan and I did, but would have been even nicer if we were all in an office together. As a bureau, we'll never have that with you guys. Wednesday through Thursday were very stressful and busy here. I think because, without Slack, there was no release valve. Like, if everything landed on me at once, nobody else could really step in who wasn't busy in the moment, and pick up an edit for example.
"That is another thing with Slack, it encourages trash talk."
So on Wednesday and Thursday, at times I felt myself really backlogged and struggling to keep up and missed Slack. Also missed Hedshack a lot. I cheated once and headshopped on the VICE Canada Slack. I also missed sharing links in the link channel.Adrianne JeffriesDo you think you will use Slack differently now?Kate LunauI feel like… no? Because, you know, whenever you do a "detox" you make resolutions but they never actually work.Jordan Pearson, staff writer, CanadaAt first I had the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I do when I listen to a bearded man talk about how he only writes with a typewriter. Sure, modern tech has probably introduced more problems than it's solved, but we're all still glad we're not stuck in the 50s, right?That being said, it wasn't the catastrophe I thought it might be. I found that I was working much more closely with my editor Kate Lunau in Canada, so that was good. The team dynamic was much more focused and I thought that worked very well. We were bouncing a lot of ideas off of each other, and productivity was high by the end of the week.
"I definitely felt sort of cut off from the rest of Motherboard."
There were some problems though. Mostly, I felt very disconnected from higher-level planning on daily site business, which normally I think we're all invited to contribute to on Slack. Without my colleagues all yammering in a public room I also had less of a sounding board to work through ideas with, so I felt a little bit adrift at times. It was a bit like trying to blog and report with one arm tied behind my back. I feel like my ideas are better when I can at least pass it by my colleagues casually.
"I don't think I was more productive. Definitely more stressed."
I've had more pointed, focused, and effective discussions with everyone on staff this week, and in less time than the constant thought stream.Someone is definitely going to "no shit" this on Twitter.Adrianne JeffriesWe need to do no Twitter week. The idea of no Twitter week makes me panic in a way no Slack week did not.Derek MeadI could not do my job without Twitter at this point.Adrianne JeffriesBut you could do it without Slack, theoretically.Derek MeadAbsolutely. I think Slack saves me time in certain instances, and I'd like to keep it.The main point is that Motherboard for the longest time was a tiny team where everyone did everything, and our structure was a flat circle. We were time. But as we've grown, instead of building out a better workflow and staff structure of who's reporting to whom, we've increased the effectiveness of each of our individual micromanaging abilities through productivity software, which is a hard spiral to jump out of and also entirely idiotic.Stopping Slack has been a chance to reverse out of the cul-de-sac and say, hey, how does this system actually work? I think that's probably the biggest allure of Slack and the reason people hate it so much. It makes limping along with a terrible hierarchy and structure possible, so you don't have to solve inherent problems to your staff model. And then everyone has to pay attention to everything and they all go insane.
"It makes limping along with a terrible hierarchy and structure possible, so you don't have to solve inherent problems to your staff model."
"Not having it showed me that I'm pretty scared of face-to-face communication and that's probably something I should work on."