SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Communication Channels at Work

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Recently a friend started a new job that didn't have Slack used as a communication vehicle. The new employer was considering Teams, but most of the communication among employees was done through email or a live meeting.

At Redgate, we use Slack extensively. I also use Teams for some work with Microsoft, and in general, I find I prefer Slack. That might be because I don't spend enough time in Teams, but regardless, I find myself preferring email for discussions with MS employees over Teams. That's my preference, but really, what I value is the instantaneous, yet async, nature of using messaging tools over email.

I think one of the reasons I like tools like Slack is the separation of topics into various threads based on some subject. We have more channels at Redgate than people, but this is because there are different needs. For example, there are a few different "ask" channels. One is for advocates (Grant and I), one for tech questions, one for licensing, one for each country, and one populated by queries coming in from customers. We have a public channel for each product, as well as one or more private team channels for their daily work. We have automated channels updated by releases and deployments, and we create quick channels when there is a sales discussion or internal issue to keep our conversations focused on an issue.

Perhaps focus is the real reason that I find these messaging tools handy. If everyone is online, we can have a real-time discussion. If people are not available, we can leave a message and hope they see it later. The one downside I've learned is that I can't assume someone has read a message if they don't reply or leave a reaction. If I do need someone, I message them in some other way to ask them to look at something in Slack.

I also extensively use messaging options on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms as well. While I do find email nice for many things, there are a lot of short exchanges that work well in another format. Email tends to work better for me when there is a need for more than a couple of replies and we need to keep track of the discussion. A fast-flowing stream of messages in Slack or Teams can be hard to sort through after a few days.

In some sense, I miss the old days of walking to someone's desk or calling a short meeting and having a discussion. I still take those opportunities when they present themselves, but most of my communication takes place electronically, and messaging dominates.

Do you feel the same way? Does your company or team use messaging tools? Are they handy? How do you decide where to post things, and is there a good separation of topics and subjects for you? Let me know today.

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