Linked – Why public chats are better than direct messages

Read the whole article at the link below, because I think there’s a really good argument to be made that a lof of these work discussions should be in the public channel as opposed to private messages. It increases the likelihood that the entire team knows that is going on, and that other people who maybe have the same question are seeing the answers.

There’s also a really good point about notifications. Typcially, messages posted to a public channel don’t come along with a popup notification that disrupts what we are doing, so we can actually collaborate in an asynchronous manner. That helps with this:

“From our experience, the vast majority of work questions are not so urgent that they require an immediate response. Most topics can be discussed asynchronously – you post a question when you have time, and your teammates will respond when they have time. It greatly helps to minimize distractions, which is especially important for developers. To be productive with code, they need prolonged periods of focused work.”

But, here it the real world, this doesn’t always work out very well. You really need the culture to be one where everyone is used to working asynchronously and checking the public channel for chances to help out the team. It sounds like that is both the expectation and the reality at this company but for a lot of us the reality is very different. Posting something in a public channel where no one gets a notification that a message is being posted generally means no one sees it. So we go back to using private channels or tagging people in the public channel in order so that we purposefully interrupt them. We haven’t developed a culture where asynchronous communication works and I suspect it’s because we don’t really want it. We want people to respond to us now. We don’t trust them to get back later and, to be fair, we don’t give our peers reason to trust us because we spend all of our time putting out fires and frequently forget to get back to people.

In many cases, it’s a humblebrag. “Oh I saw your message but then I got involved in important things because I’m an important person and never got back to you”.

If asynchronous collaboration is going to work, that kind of comment needs to be unacceptable instead of rewarded. Can you get there? If you really want to provide flexibility to your team, this is going to become pretty vital.


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