Give your teams a private Slack channel

June 27, 2022
Why I prefer every team has their own public and private Slack channel.

Have you ever gone through a new Slack (or MS Teams, or whatever chat tool you prefer) reorganization?

Every time I’ve been involved, one of the hot topics has been: Should we allow private channels?

And here’s my take:

Yes.

See ya tomorrow! 😉

Okay, let me elaborate a bit.

There is a strong argument against private slack channels. And that is, we want to discuss important things in the open, where everyone can participate. Think of this as the chat room version of the one nice thing that comes from an open floor plan.

The problem is, this often leads to too much information, which is an even worse problem in some companies.

It also doesn’t address the issue that teams need the ability to have private conversations, without evesdropping. If the team isn’t given this opportunity, they’ll invent it, by chatting over WhatsApp, or setting up a private Slack or Discord server, etc. So we may as well explicitly allow a private team slack channel.

So what I encourage for every team, when I’m involved in setting up Slack, is two team channels:

  • A #team-foo channel, which is public. A great place for:

    • Chatting with external stakeholders about work the team is doing
    • Bot announcements of new deployments, outage alerts, etc
    • Architectural discussions that might be of interest to other teams
    • Any announcements (“Bob is leaving the team”, “Alice is joining the team”)
  • A #team-pvt-foo channel, which is private. A great place for:

    • Internal status updates
    • Discussion of work coordination
    • Team-specific watercooler-type chat

Of course this isn’t the only configuration that works. What have you found that works well with your team?

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