We've all been on the receiving end of this one: it's seven or eight o'clock in the evening and your phone buzzes. It's a coworker (or worse, your manager) sending you a message about something that's clearly not urgent. But now that you've opened Slack, it's not so easy to put your phone back down. Before you know it, you're opening up your laptop, and mentally you're back on the clock.
As incidents like these cascade across a company, it can reinforce an "always on" culture that strains work-life balance and leads to burnout. But it doesn't have to be this way.
What if you could schedule a Slack message, authoring it now but scheduling it to arrive the next morning? Adding Gator to your Slack team lets you do exactly that.
And in the process, you and your coworkers can avoid that vicious cycle of after-hours messages and instead build a culture that actively respects each other's work-life balance.
Let's go deeper on five specific reasons to schedule your Slack messages.
1. Avoid disturbing your coworkers after hours
Let's start with a truth about how we work together:
Emergencies happen, but most after-hours work communication can probably wait until tomorrow
And this problem is compounded on remote teams: an innocent 4:00 p.m. message from someone on the West Coast is firmly a distraction at 7:00 p.m. for their coworker on the East Coast. Teams which are further spread apart feel this problem even more intensely.
Saving those non-urgent messages for tomorrow is an act of compassion towards our coworkers, especially during 2020 when everyone's work-life routines are in flux. By scheduling your Slack message with a tool like Gator, you can author your message now and let Gator deliver it at 9:00 a.m. in your recipient's time zone. When the next morning comes your message will show up exactly as your authored it, whether you're logged in to Slack or not.
2. Capture an idea when inspiration strikes
Scheduling messages can also be helpful for capturing those great ideas which might slip away if you don't act quickly.
Whether that moment of inspiration strikes in the shower, while exercising, or even when you wake up, psychologists have proven that writing down your ideas greatly increases your odds of remembering them. And when it comes to work, usually our next step is to share the idea with someone else.
It can be tempting to share that idea immediately, especially when we think we're on to something big. But sending your idea to a coworker after hours is just about the worst time to pitch it. They'll be much more receptive if you save it for the morning instead.
In fact, psychologists have also proven that our capacity for decision-making is worn down over the course of a day. It's why so many executives choose to wear the same outfit to work every day: one less decision to make before they clock in. So by scheduling your Slack message to arrive first thing in the morning, you'll actually be sharing your idea at the best time of the day to pitch something new.
3. Make time zones work for you
Working on a distributed team is an adjustment at first. When do we find time to meet? How do we stay in touch day to day?
Companies that have taken the plunge know that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for a distributed team, but mastering time zones is a key part of the challenge. Distributed teams can't simply copy the norms of a colocated team, and the best companies find ways to take advantage of the spread between their time zones.
Scheduling Slack messages is a crucial tool in realizing those benefits. Slack is a powerful tool for realtime collaboration between coworkers. But without a scheduling tool like Gator, distributed teams are forced into one of two bad outcomes:
- Conduct some conversations over email, splitting the company's collaboration across two platforms, or...
- Commit to Slack, but force employees in the "non-HQ" time zones to endure after-hours distractions
Embracing scheduling in Slack avoids both of those issues by powering up Slack from a realtime collaboration tool to a realtime and asynchronous collaboration tool. All of your team's discussions can stay in Slack, but you have the choice with each message to send it now or wait until 9:00 a.m. in your recipient's time zone.
And Gator is unique among Slack scheduling tools in calculating your recipient's time zone for you. When you send a message with Gator, it looks at your recipient's Slack profile and automatically schedules your message for 9:00 a.m. in their time zone (or 9:00 a.m. on Monday if you're sending your message on a Friday).
4. Deliver announcements exactly on time
Dropping some big news for all your coworkers? Slack is likely one of the ways you already plan to get the word out. But sending your message to your company's big Slack channel at exactly the right time can be easy to forget if you're juggling other parts of the rollout simultaneously. Scheduling your Slack announcement a few hours in advance crosses that item off your to-do list early.
Or maybe it's something smaller, like an agenda for today's team meeting? That's also a great candidate for a message which you can write the night before and schedule for delivery first thing in the morning. And if your team is spread across a few different time zones, you can even schedule the message to deliver before your work day begins. That way everyone on your team has the opportunity to see your message early in their day.
5. Get a message to a coworker as soon as they start their day
Like we discussed above, genuine after-hours emergencies warrant a Slack message and most other messages can probably wait until the next day. But what if your message has an urgency that's slightly in-between: you don't want to disrupt your coworker's evening but you want to make sure they see it as soon as they open Slack?
You could try to time your message perfectly for when you think they start their workday, but you're unlikely to get it exactly right. That's why Gator also includes a feature called "early delivery."
When you turn on early delivery for a message you schedule with Gator, it will monitor your recipient's status in Slack. As soon as Gator sees them log in to Slack and their status goes green, Gator will deliver your message immediately. In the event your recipient never logs in, Gator won't hold your message forever: it will still deliver it at the time you specified when you first scheduled your message.
Gator's early delivery feature works with both direct messages and group messages in Slack. In group messages, Gator delivers your message as soon as any other participant in the group logs in to Slack. That way you can have confidence that your message will be seen as soon as your coworkers start the day.
Try Gator for six weeks for free
Ready to start scheduling messages in your Slack team? Add Gator to your Slack workspace today and you'll start with a six week free trial — no credit card or email address required. Your entire Slack team will be able to use all these features and more.
At the end of your six weeks, you can either unlock Gator for your entire Slack team by upgrading to a paid subscription or stay on the Gator free tier, which gives you 10 free Gator messages per month forever.
Got feedback on Gator? Or maybe a tip about scheduling Slack messages that we missed here? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover image courtesy Austin Distel.