Companies and organizations new to team chat (Fleep, Flowdock, HipChat, Slack, etc) are often excited by the functionality and optimistic about the potential to simplify internal communication.
However, team chat can be a dangerous weapon if not handled with care. It's quite common to hear complaints about never-ending random chatter, important messages getting ignored, and the overall perception of a chaos of sorts.
We (Sameroom founders) have experienced these situations in the past, and from the very beginning of our company we've adopted certain rules and principles in our use of team chat. Let's list some of them (important note: our team is entirely remote—some of us have never met in person).
- Explicitly no gifs / cats / fun / random chatter
- Minimal humor
- Minimal 1-1 chat—unless it's secret or coordinating something specific, everyone should see it
- Minimal inside baseball in communication—all chat history needs to be readable by just about anyone
- No Russian in public rooms (70% of company read/write Russian)
- We have a Watercooler room where company-wide and industry news are shared, but minimally
- Rooms per major topic: Sales, Dev, QA Production, QA Staging, plus some project rooms, like one where we pile updates to the Chat Services Timeline
- Feed as much stuff as possible to chat—Salesforce Chatter to Slack (bi-directional), Twitter to Slack (bi-directional), Intercom to Slack (bi-directional)
- We use shared channels for major customers and partner teams at other companies
- We sync key rooms between two chat systems (Slack and Fleep), for redundancy
- No email, except sales, bizdev, and similar external-facing situations
And, the most important rule:
- By default, chat should be silent. If you're bored, go for a run/walk :)
While these rules are specific to our company, based on how we prefer to live and work, they could be used by any team considering adopting enterprise chat.