How One Creative Stopped Worrying and Started Loving Slack

In defense of the pervasive workplace software

Ubiquitous. Pervasive. Efficient. Incredible. Annoying. It's Slack.

Slack is synonymous with everything that's right about work and everything that can go wrong with it, too. It's a many-colored beast that drives communication among creative workers and beyond. But there's more to the story.

When I was herded into the Slack-o-sphere sometime around 2017, I was mildly indignant. When the pandemic happened in 2020, I became resentful, as it felt like a tool being used to permeate my entire existence with work. Now in 2024's landscape of remote and hybrid employment, I feel it's one of the most important technological aspects driving my personal freedom.

Hidden in its channels, conversations, invites, threads, sub-threads, @here's, pinned deliverables, emoji choruses and GIF-ciphers is a social media network that holds fewer empty calories than you think. Here are a few things to consider before you hate on Slack:

Slack is the new happy hour.

Maybe you hate your job, in which case, you may have already clicked away from this article. Or maybe you are in it for the people as much as the money, in which case Slack is indispensable to learn what's cracking, who's got taste, who manages their time well, and who is a walking (typing) red flag. It's the digital analog to cliques, conversations and awkward pleasantries. Some stay late, and this bar never closes. Oh, and the illusion of proximity you get from celebrities posting on other platforms? It's here too! You can wade into #general or #all-agency channels and get a taste for what the boss likes to chat about or comment on. You can even join in without wondering if you look like you are on your fourth cocktail.

Slack is natively chronological.

Yeah, I know. You can follow the counterintuitive toggle functions on IG to switch to a token chronological feed. But every time I do, it feels like the platform is standing there, tapping its foot, waiting for me to just experience the feed more naturally. In a world of algo-driven recommendations and curation, Slack stays classic. As your sidebar heats up with channels, conversations and projects, there's something special about knowing that whatever you read or click on won't precipitate a swarm of "related content" for the next few days. Sorry if this leans a little MIGA (Make the Internet Great Again). 

Slack has built-in content moderation.

Whatever the level of decorum in your workplace, it's most likely beneficial to behave with a degree of professionalism. So goeth the Slack vibes as well. Your chances of running into cringe-y hot takes, unwelcome comment novels or tone-deaf rants are much lower. When culture is strong, Slack feels like a deep well of snackable thought leadership, a place where relevant information and perspectives are shared, with the added bonus of it being something that could have a direct effect on your life, as opposed to news and information that's passively consumed and immediately forgotten.  

Slack is a place for cultural cross-pollination.

Recently, when trying to catch up on the bolded channels in my Slack sidebar, I spied a few interesting posts from a senior team member who I rarely interact with. I instinctively started looking around the screen for a way to "follow" this person officially, just as I do when I see a valuable IG post or a tweet. Alas, that's not possible. Added functionality like this seems like a huge opportunity within organizations to create more cross-pollination, especially with remote teams and workforces. So yeah, there are ways Slack could be better. 

I'd also love to see native AI tools in Slack that analyze conversations and channels to (safely and privately) generate efficiency, insights or hilarity. Additionally, it can improve its Huddle option which never seems to function properly. Although, I kind of dig the hold music. (A quick shot of George Benson-esque jazz guitar, anyone?) And, of course, it will be interesting to see how AI overlays could create virtual assistants or thought partners within the platform.

Blending work and life is a real thing. When done properly, neither suffer; both prosper. It's a skill to be refined like any other, a skill that includes boundaries. I find a lot of valuable, interesting, actionable things on Slack and—time-adjusted—probably an overall higher percentage of nutritious content and conversations.

In terms of culture-building innovations, it might be time to give the big S its due.

Profile picture for user Nick Francis
Nick Francis
Nick Francis is a creative director at Code and Theory.

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