Fight Slack @channel Fatigue

Dan WilloughbyFeb 10, 20212 min read

Slack is a fast-paced platform used for workplace communication and for the most part, customer support. When a customer has an issue, they contact the company’s support team. If the support team cannot immediately solve the issue, they forward it to the developers using the inbuilt @channel Slack feature. The @channel feature is often abused by the support team where teams of developers are constantly bombarded with notifications to solve issues. The result is that the notification from Slack becomes a nuisance especially for developers in several channels.

Why it’s a problem

@channel fatigue occurs when developers get exhausted and constantly distracted by the notifications so that there’s no work being done but responding to notifications. Normally, everyone on the developer team gets the notification and they are confused whether to respond or to ignore since most of the notifications are marked urgent.

@channel interrupting everyone
@channel interrupting everyone

The #support Slack channel is chaotic at best, with support team members using @channel for big and small problems capable of being solved by any developer. Some of the problems are fairly urgent but since everyone gets notified, the distraction intensifies and the result is developers shying away from #support channels or even leaving completely, making the whole process even worse.

Slack’s solution

Do not disturb feature (DND)

Allows members on Slack to pause Slack notifications. They can temporarily snooze notifications when they need to concentrate. The time intervals can be customized depending on their availability or can be set to automatic recurring DND hours to avoid after hours interruptions. Once turned DND is off, you can review messages received while on DND. Your coworkers can still see you when you are on (DND) and choose to message you when you are available. However, they can still push notifications through if its urgent- only once per day.

Set notification schedule

Slack notifications are also sent to your mobile Slack app. A nifty customizable notification delay feature allows you to decide when you want to get Slack notifications. This prevents getting overloaded with constant Slack notifications. This feature excludes messages already viewed on desktop and those with notifications turned off. You can also set to be notified the moment you are mentioned and to receive Slack notifications on DMs and @mentions on email. The notifications allow you to keep up with the activities on Slack while being able to focus on other tasks.

Tellspin

Despite efforts by Slack to counter @channel fatigue, they have failed to establish a Slack rotation feature that counters overwhelming of teams and provides for distribution of team responsibilities amongst members based on their availability. Tellspin is a Slack rotation app that acts as an on-call rotation for your teams. One person is always available from the team during work hours to triage technical issues from the support teams.

Tellspin routing to one person
Tellspin routing to one person

This Slack group rotation feature is an easier way to manage the complexity of adjusting lineups and makes it simple to add/remove responders from the rotations while reducing Slack distractions for those not available to respond. Tellspin is a Slack round robin that offers a simpler way for teams to have on-call rotations for Slack @mentions and @channel notifications.

Rotation schedule for Developers
Rotation schedule for Developers

After selecting the developers and the rotation, Tellspin assigns and updates your user groups. The Slack Rota has a lineup of upcoming schedules directly on Slack for developers to plan ahead and set time aside to focus on other matters based on their Slack group rotation schedule.

The Slack mention rotation ensures that instead of engaging the whole team, only one person responds to the Slack mention call. Tellspin offers an easy to implement and a functional solution to @channel issues and avoiding Slack distractions.

WRITTEN BY

Dan Willoughby