Is group chat making you sweat?

Jason Fried on a better solution to all-day, all-the-time group chat.

I came across this post from Jason Fried (of Basecamp and 37signals) last week. It was published in 2016, but feels more relevant than ever. Jason, whose authority on the topic comes from launching Slack-predecessor Campfire in 2006, makes an eloquent and persuasive argument that all-day group chat is a poor way of working for remote teams.

I totally agree with Jason and have relatively little to add, so I’ll just synthesise the main points: “Following group chat all day feels like being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda… I believe attention is one of your most precious resources. If something else controls my attention, that something else controls what I’m capable of. I also believe your full attention is required to do great work.”

The argument goes: with group chat, you feel pressured to always check, and always respond. This limits your ability to focus on the task in hand. Jason argues chat has its place, but few things are actually extremely urgent: “I still think group chat is an important tool in the communications toolbox. I just don’t think it’s the go-to tool.”

The solution, then, is “Real-time sometimes, asynchronous most of the time.” Jason then goes on to run through a bunch of rules and guidelines his team are using to implement this. They conveniently include using Basecamp to facilitate “slower” communication; as a Basecamp customer I do agree it’s well placed to solve this problem for remote teams.

This post first appeared in MasterWP, a weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals.


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