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Born in 1981, I am an in-betweener, or a Xennial; I am able to identify with members of both Gen X and Gen Y. As a Xennial, I have the unique experience of living in both realities of the X’s and Y’s – the advantage is that I have lived, experienced and functioned in a world without internet and instant communication. I understand the need for the occasional digital detox, and often miss life without a smart phone. Additionally, I have the advantage that I belong to one of the first generations to be taught “computers” in school. As a result, I am comfortable working on a computer.
In this blog post, I will examine the link between Slack, a social media and collaboration tool used in businesses, and higher levels of performance in the workplace.
Slack.com is a social app that describes itself as a place “where work happens”. Slack is used in the work place to collaborate on projects, communicate with coworkers from different departments, and coalesce with contacts from different organizations altogether. Charley Locke says the app “has become the social network where we spend our workdays.”
Since I do not have any personal experience using Slack, I wrote to David Ko, an active user and proponent of Slack. In order to gain more insight into the user experience of social media apps in the workplace, I asked David the following questions.
David Ko is a Gen Y.
How were you introduced to the app? Did you join right away?
Introduced by co-worker and new manager. Yes, joined right away.
Are 100% of employees signed up and participating?
Almost. I would say about 95%.
Do you use Slack on your phone and desktop? Do most of your coworkers use it on their phone?
All that participated use at least the desktop version. I would say about half of them have it on their phone.
Besides Slack, on which social platforms are you active?
Can you briefly explain the customization aspect of the app?
The app is fully customizable, and lends towards developers to create their own apps. Slack can interface existing applications geared towards office automation, such as bug-tracking systems like Jira.
Explain how it makes your job faster than life pre-Slack.
Unlike Microsoft Lync, it (1) buffers messages for users when they are offline, (2) has a subscription service so that you can receive only the relevant messages, (3) office automation tools can publish results directly into Slack, (4) it’s a simple tool to use, (5) embeds graphics and videos, and (6) geared towards fun.
Do you feel like it has improved your day to day work life? Made it more enjoyable
Would you miss your friends/experience on Slack if you were change employers?
Have you observed any generational differences when it comes to app usage? I suspect younger employees are on it more frequently and thus more active on it.
Everyone in the office uses it, regardless of age. But yes, I tend to see the younger ones more active on it.
What star rating would you give Slack?
I would give it 4.5/5
Lessons for Others
© Slack introduction screen, screenshot. Retrieved from Google Play store application on October 17, 2017 at 1:51 PM
I foresee this app having great success and continuing its momentum as daily users have steadily increased since the day it went live (in Aug 2013). Most recent stats reveal that the daily usage has risen to 6 million users (as of September 12th 2017).
From my observations, the adoption of the Slack’s software makes great business sense for corporations. Clearly Slack contributes positively to the day-to-day work life experience for the employees. Online reviews in the app store are overwhelmingly positive.
According to statistics from the Google Play app store, Slack has recorded five million downloads and scores a 4.4 (out of 5) rating, which is impressive.
It remains to be seen how these platforms will evolve over the decades. How all-encompassing will the world of communication via social media be for my child? As the mother of a Gen TBD, I am ever aware of the alarming statistics that come from the study of children’s exposure to devices (ipads, smart phones, computers etc). It has been demonstrated that the over use of devices has a negative impact on the mental health of children.
Ironically, addiction to devices may be of benefit to businesses. It makes sense for companies to adopt this type of social software. Overwhelmingly, those who embrace social media in the workplace report loving the experience. Humans are naturally drawn to the instant gratification of the pop ups; I can relate to the urge to look at my phone when I hear a notification. Could employees who enjoy using work-related social applications be unknowingly led down a path of enslavement to their jobs?
This subject leaves me with many questions. How effectively do these apps contribute to the retention of employees? What will my Gen TBD child’s future work-life balance look like?
Industry: Software Development
Name of Organization Contact: David Ko, Senior Software Engineer
Authored by: Kimberly Barrett
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Insight into the Xennial Generation
Over-use of ipads, iphones and smart screens hurting kids