The fastest-growing workplace software. Before ... let's call it the great happening (COVID in other words)... Slack was nothing more than we used to chatter with colleagues, exchange memes, and, yeah, to post work-related stuff.
After the… happening… hit, Slack became a home for many remote workers. And… No one seems to have any problem with it.
Just check this out:
- People send 1.5 billion messages each month
- Users spend 90 minutes daily of active minutes on Slack
- Slack was acquired by Salesforce for Salesforce for $27.7bn with the belief that it still has significant potential to grow.
Pretty impressive numbers, right? Seeing how a wide-scale return to the office isn't looking realistic, ever, Slack seems to be our new workspace.
Not quite the cyberpunk future you imagined, huh?
But is Slack really the future of team collaboration? Is Slack going to stay our dedicated place of work? Are we going to spend the rest of our working lives typing away in Slack?
Some do think so. Not everyone, though.
We tend to think the latter.
Before we move to talk about Slack and whether it will survive the shift to the Metaverse, let's start at the beginning and look at Slack as a workplace platform.
What is the Slack Platform Really?
Let's get serious for a second.
Slack is a messaging platform for businesses. It allows for private and public channels, as well as direct messaging. In addition, the software integrates with other business software, such as Google Drive and Salesforce.
Wait – isn’t Slack just a messaging platform?
Sure, you're quite aware that Slack is a messaging platform. You hear the notifications. You see the messages. And you write and send messages on it. But wasn't Slack supposed to be something more? Wasn't this the new virtual office for all of us, where we would spend our days working remotely?
As it turns out, no. Not quite.
Slack is a good tool in terms of work when you desperately want one of your colleagues to see something, whether it's a message, task, or file.
As Kevin Kwok writes, Slack serves three specific functions within a given organization:
- ELSE statement: Programmers often use Slack as the "exception handler" when specific productivity apps don't have a way to handle something.
- Meta-coordination: It's also a good place for meta-level strategy and coordination that don't have specific productivity apps.
- Virtual watercooler: In most cases, Slack is nothing more than a social hub for team members.
These functions are all fine. Slack serves a purpose. However, as an organization matures and becomes more sophisticated, the need to use Slack for anything more than a social hub lessens.
What's Broken in Slack?
A few things. Definitely a few.
Slack has its pros, but it also has its cons. No platform is perfect, after all. So things probably aren't that bad? It depends on how you look at the situation.
“The future of office work won’t be found in continuing to reduce the friction involved in messaging but, instead, in figuring out how to avoid the need to send so many messages in the first place.” - Cal Newport, A World Without Email
There are a few problems people have with Slack, such as:
- It's mainly built for shallow conversations: Quick messages, jokes, and small talk. The platform isn't great for more in-depth conversations where audio & video is needed and more impactful.
- It can be distracting: You want your team members to focus on the task at hand. That should be easy since they're working from home. However, it can be hard to concentrate on work with all the notifications and messages flying around. Even worst than email
- Slack is pretty disorganized: Yeah, Slack is useful for quickly checking on things, but if you want to use it for important, big-picture discussions, it's not so good; moreover, sustaining a conversation from beginning to end is almost impossible.
- It's nothing more than simulated transparency: While there's a "search" feature that can help you find files, there's no way to find out what's happening on each channel without going through messages manually.
- It can even be addictive: With the ping of a new message, it's hard not to keep checking Slack. And, with the notifications turned on, you're guaranteed to get distracted.
What Do Remote Workers Need?
To answer whether Slack will survive the shift to the metaverse, we need to ask ourselves what remote workers need. Your team members might not be picky, but the current situation isn't ideal for them.
Remote workers and teams face many challenges, including:
- Project management
- Team collaboration
- Tracking tasks and productivity
Unfortunately, Slack can't help them handle many of these issues. Your teammates need something more effective.
First and foremost, they need a platform that allows for in-depth conversations, one that's not built for shallow messages and small talk. They need a platform that's distraction-free and easy to organize.
Finally, they need a platform that provides transparency, allows for accountability, and enables collaboration.
Why Do We Think Slack May Not Survive?
In our opinion, the biggest issue with Slack - and its competitors - is that it’s a text-first communication platform.
Now, Slack may have audio, video, and screen sharing options. Yes. But it was designed as a text-based app.
While it made team communication easier, Slack didn’t actually help us increase productivity. A decade ago, McKinsey said that workplace communication technologies have the potential to increase productivity by 25%.
But that prediction didn’t transpire.
It’s not Slack’s fault for this, of course. While our communication platforms automated certain aspects of our jobs, they created more work. Slack processes over 300,000 messages per second. It’s safe to say that the average user spends a good amount of time answering questions and going through treads.
That can’t be good for our productivity. Our question is, is a text-based platform the best team collaboration solution?
Of course not. In historical terms, remote work is in its infancy. The technology we have at the moment may allow us to work from anywhere in the world, but we’ve just scratched the surface.
With the emergence of the Metaverse and VR technologies, we’ll be able to further normalize remote work and really increase productivity.
Cal Newport believes that a revolution in knowledge work productivity as big as the industrial revolution is yet to to happen.
We already have Metaverse platforms like Kosy that can help you with productivity. Kosy allows you to interact naturally with team members.
Sometimes, video chat may feel a bit awkward. Not with Kosy. The online virtual office is laid out in a way that feels familiar to your team members. As a result, they can freely move around, collaborate and hang out with other team members.
Platforms like these are true virtual offices, not simple messaging platforms.
The Future of Slack in the Metaverse
Does this mean that Slack will disappear in the next few years? Not at all. However, the reality is Slack simply isn't sophisticated enough to address all of the remote work needs. As a result, the platform will become more and more outdated as time goes by.
Remote team members will eventually migrate to team collaboration platforms designed for them – like Kosy. These platforms provide all of the features and benefits that Slack can't offer. They're built for in-depth conversations, transparency, and accountability.