Slack isn’t made for you

Slack isn’t made for you

In my last job I never had to touch Slack, we used Google Meet exclusively. My only exposure to Slack was through a group of people who played Overwatch and organized (slightly strangely) through Slack. Recently I’ve been working on a new project and they had already made the decision to use Slack for all communication. I’m mostly fine with this, we don’t spend much time chatting, just quick questions and status updates. The overhead is low. However, one thing that struck me is how Slack is clearly not designed for you, it’s designed for your boss.

Slack logo


The biggest indicator is in the way notifications are presented. When you first log in to Slack on desktop:

Slack notification request

If you dismiss this it nags you:

Slack notification confirmation

Note the wording here: “Without notifications it’s much harder for your team to reach you”.

Slack mobile is no better. On the first install there’s a prominent nag screen to turn on notifications:

NOTE: This is all Slack for Android, I don’t know what the story is on iPhone

Mobile nag screen

It does go away once you dismiss it, but I don’t know how long that lasts. I will grant that for many users setting up notifications after install would be something they’d want to change.

Once you grant notification privileges you get the following defaults:

Mobile defaults

To recap you will get notifications about every single new message the moment you walk away from the app.

These serve to draw you back in, and keep you interacting with the latest work emergency.

It’s also worth mentioning the most prominent option for turning off notifications is to pause them, not turn them off:

Pause notifications menu

Note that there is no permanent option here. In order to get that you need to either go back to the Notification screen (the one from above) and tell it not to notify you about anything or go dig around in Android settings to turn off notifications.

There are lots of options here to customize Slack notifications so you can fine tune them to fit your schedule better. But to me, defaults matter and Slack is sending a clear message (heh) that they want you to see every message that arrives.

Slack is about making you constantly available to those around you, not about helping you be most productive, and certainly not about letting you ever get away from work.

For this reason I encourage you to turn off Slack notifications. Make notifications pull based instead of push based, this helps you disconnect from work. If people really need you, give them your real phone number and make them put in the work for the help.