A General Rule for Team Communication Across Multiple Platforms

Modern businesses use a variety of apps and tools to keep track of work and get work done. And most of those apps and tools include some kind of messaging system. At Lawyerist, for example, we use Gmail and Slack for communication, but we also use Google Docs, Teamwork, and Trello, each of which has its own built-in messaging.

And some of our tools have more than one kind of messaging. In Teamwork, for example, you can leave comments on just about anything, including messages.1 And while Slack is mostly just a stream of messages, you can also comment on uploaded files or text snippets. Google Docs has at least 3 kinds of messaging: (1) you can chat with other people currently viewing the document, (2) you can comment on any portion of the document, and (3) you can comment on suggested edits.

So if you need to refer back to a message, where do you go? It can be a problem. Our solution is simple, but it has been effective. Here is our general rule on communication:

In general, you should leave comments on the thing about which you are commenting. For example, if you are discussing a post represented by a milestone in Teamwork, it would probably be better to leave a comment on that Milestone in Teamwork rather than discussing it in Slack, where the discussion will be harder to find a day, week, or month later.

There are always exceptions. Use the best tool for the job, with a preference for the closest tool to the job.

Basically, we impose order on the chaos that results from having so many different communication tools. Our default is still Slack, which is excellent for conversations but not great when it comes to organizing information (email has the same problem). Apart from Slack, our communications are still all over the place, but our general rule makes it easier to find them.

Featured image by Marc Wathieu / CC BY-NC 2.0.


  1. Fortunately, you can turn off messages in Teamwork projects, which simplifies things a little. 

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