No, really, don't chuck everything in Slack: communications for distributed teams

Posted on Wed 24 April 2019 in talk-submissions • 2 min read

This is a talk I submitted1 to 2019. The conference uses a non-anonymized CfP process on a custom platform that, I think, is built on Symposion.

This talk was accepted as a standby talk, meaning it was slated to fill the gap if any other talk had to be cancelled on short notice. I did prepare the full talk, though it did not end up presenting it at the conference.

I also submitted the talk to DjangoCon Europe 2019, where it was rejected.


No, really, don’t chuck everything in Slack: communications for distributed teams

Target Audience



This will appear in the conference programme. Up to about 500 words. This field is rendered with the monospace font Hack with whitespace preserved

This is a personal story. It does not claim to be rooted in statistical analysis or scientific rigour, and the evidence presented is anecdotal. But it might be insightful to anyone joining, leaving, or interacting with a remote team.

From 2011 to 2017, I ran a company that had no office. Everyone worked from home, and apart from an annual one-week face to face meeting, all our communications were remote. In 2017, I sold my company and integrated my team into a company that had previously been working exclusively out of a single office. As one would expect, the integration was not without friction (they never are), but what emerged from the experience was a better understanding of the challenges that come with a mixed office/remote work environment, and some rules to address them. In this talk, I’ll cover:

  • Typical misconceptions that remoties have about office-workers, and vice versa

  • Using the right tools for the right type of communications: interactive chat, email, wiki, issue trackers, Kanban boards

  • Timezones, and communications around scheduling

  • The 5-paragraph format, a simple tool I habitually use to make sure everyone is on the same page

  • Follow-up and follow-through, and how to make sure neither you, nor your team, nor your boss loses sight of what needs doing

Private Abstract

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It’s probably good for me to reiterate that this is not a scientific study. :)

  1. If you’re curious why this is here, please read this