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Slack Continues Its Assault on Multi-tasking and Manual Work

No, yesterday's updates won't eliminate multi-tasking. Make no mistake, though: Users will spend less time toggling between and among disparate applications.
Nov | 17 | 2021


Nov | 17 | 2021


Rock star Rachel Feintzeig over at The Wall Street Journal recently described how many employees suffer from incessant pings while on the clock. TL;DR: Notifications from disparate apps, systems, and devices tend to annoy and distract us. That’s not good.

These chronic alerts aren’t just annoying; as Feintzeig points out, tool overload is both prevalent and pernicious. (I’m biased here, but if only more companies invested in proper training, employees would know how to customize alerts and, you know, keep their sanity and maybe not quit.1)

But the ability to customize notifications represents just one of the many ways that Slack distinguishes itself from e-mail. (Sorry Cal Newport. You’re dead wrong here.)

The Power of Blocks

I’ve been saying for years that Slack is the most robust internal collaboration hub in the world—and it’s about to get even better. The exciting announcements at yesterday’s Frontiers Conference made me downright giddy.

Let me explain.As I write in Reimagining Collaboration, organizations that use Slack as their digital headquarters can minimize employee distractions. Still, workers far too often still have to switch between and among dozens of different business systems and apps. What if there were a way to minimize this frenetic activity?

As it turns out, there is—or at least, there will be soon.

Blocks will take Slack’s Workflow Builder to another level.

Yesterday Slack announced its plans to minimize the extent to which we have to multi-task, toggle, and ALT-TAB. As it happens, I’m not the only one thinking about blocks and the future of productivity. #greatminds

From TechCrunch:

The tools will be released at some point next year, but if these building blocks work as described, Slack could become less about pure communication and more about workflow and process automation, something that could be important as it becomes more deeply integrated into Salesforce, which bought the company at the end of last year for over $27 billion.2

These reusable and configurable blocks will elevate Slack’s already impressive Workflow Builder to another level. What’s more, they’ll allow for oodles of useful integrations, automation, and time-savers—with minimal or zero coding involved. (Your move, Zapier.)

Here’s a visual:

Image Source: Slack

In the video below, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield explains how these blocks can streamline an organization’s multi-system hiring process:

Apart from simplifying business processes, a more holistic approach to enterprise tech will in all likelihood reduce employee burnout.


of workers using communication and collaboration tools who say these tools have made work more complex.

Simon Says: Think holistically about enterprise tech.

No, you won’t be able to perform every conceivable business function inside of Slack—or other internal collaboration hubs from Microsoft, Citrix, Google, and the like. The idea of an omni-app is absurd. Ditto for the notion that all manual work disappears. Still, disclaimers aside, progressive companies that have bought into the Slack-centric view of communication and collaboration are poised to reap even greater benefits in 2022 and beyond.

God speed.


  1. That’s a whole rant with me.
  2. Never write like this, BTW. This sentence is way too long.

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