As far as I’m aware, most of the biggest EA organizations are heavy users of Slack, which is somewhat better on these fronts than email. They’re also generally friendly to researchers who have a personal policy of checking email infrequently (as it’s widely recognized how distracting email can be).
I’m in favor of much of what this article recommends; I just think we’re on that path already. (I’d be interested to see concrete anti-email suggestions that could push us even further, though!)
Could you explain how Slack is better on these fronts than email? My intuition is that Slack would be worse on these fronts than email (I think in part because I’ve seen one or two medium posts that talk about the always on IM culture and how it makes it harder to do focused work).
Slack’s not perfect, but here are some features I like:
Emotes let you “respond” to a message in less than a second with zero typing. At CEA, we have an “eyes” emote that means “I’ve seen this message”, which saves me 30 seconds over sending a “thanks for sending this, I’ve read it” email. We have lots of other emotes that stand in for other kinds of quick messages. I send a lot less email at CEA than I did in my most recent corporate job, at a tech firm with pretty standard messaging practices.
Channels act as a proactive sorting system. CEA has an “important” channel for time-sensitive things that everyone should read and a “general” channel for things that everyone should read, but that aren’t time-sensitive. If all the messages on those channels were emails, I’d wind up reading them all as they came in, but in Slack I can ignore most of them until I hit the time in my day when I want to catch up on messages, without spending any energy on sorting.
Slack also has a feature that lets you set “statuses” in the same way the HBR article discusses (e.g. “working on important thing, available after 4:00 pm”), which takes less time than writing an auto-reply and also doesn’t add dozens of automated emails to other people’s inboxes when they try contacting you.