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UPDATE: Slack has saved the day and the workspace switcher is back! 🎉

For the sake of preserving historical context and highlighting the ramifications of seemingly innocuous changes, the original post remains unaltered below.

Slack Workspace Tax

Slack’s new design is intended to “help you focus and be more productive as you work.”

Instead, they fundamentally broke the product for multi-workspace users, imposing a 1-3 second tax every time you receive a message outside of the currently active workspace.1

The people of the Internet are not taking this quietly and a petition has been started to put and end to the madness.

How much of your life are you losing to the new mantadory Slack Workspace Tax?2

Workspaces
Messages/Workspace/Day
Seconds/Switch
Messages Per Day
150
P(Different Workspace)
67%
Switches Per Day
100
Period
Day
Week
Month
Year
Decade
Seconds
200
1,000
4,000
48,000
480,000
Hours
0.06
0.3
1.1
13.3
133
The @SlackHQ Workspace Tax will waste 133 hours of my life over the next decade.
At your Personal Rate, that's $13,300.00.

And this is just for you! Now think about the fact that you’re probably not the only one in your workspace. How much time is your company losing to Slack’s new design? The entire world?3

// VARIABLES
ACTIVE_USERS = 20_000_000;
AVERAGE_WORKSPACES_PER_USER = 2;
MESSAGES_PER_WORKSPACE_PER_DAY = 10;
SECONDS_PER_SWITCH = 2;

// CALCULATIONS
MESSAGES_PER_DAY = MESSAGES_PER_WORKSPACE_PER_DAY * AVERAGE_WORKSPACES_PER_USER; // 20

PROBABILITY_OF_MESSAGE_GOING_TO_DIFFERENT_WORKSPACE =
  1 - 1 / AVERAGE_WORKSPACES_PER_USER; // 0.5

SECONDS_LOST_PER_MESSAGE =
  PROBABILITY_OF_MESSAGE_GOING_TO_DIFFERENT_WORKSPACE * SECONDS_PER_SWITCH; // 1

SECONDS_LOST_PER_USER_PER_DAY = MESSAGES_PER_DAY * SECONDS_LOST_PER_MESSAGE; // 20

SECONDS_LOST_PER_DAY = SECONDS_LOST_PER_USER_PER_DAY * ACTIVE_USERS; // 400,000,000

With an ultra-conservative estimate of usage, Slack’s new workspace design is costing the world 400 million seconds per day. That’s 4,629.6 days per day!

Ouch.

The irony? This is a trivial fix. Conditionally render the original workspace switcher based on the number of workspaces. If there’s only one, don’t show it. If there’s more than one, show it.

The argument could be made that over time, people will stop checking multiple workspaces and remain “focused” in a single madhouse of notifications.

This pretends the Pavlovian conditioning instilled in users, which was instrumental in a $27.7 billion acquisition, either doesn’t exist or will gently fade into the night.

The even bigger leap is believing that Slack has a role to play in any semblance of focus when the best thing you can do is to close it.

Everyone loses when design is prioritized over UX.

What can you do?

Footnotes

  1. This range was calculated with pen, paper, a partner, and a stop watch: Start time, move mouse to middle of screen, move to click on workspace switcher, click on random workspace, end time.

  2. This is an incredibly basic model that assumes you work 5 days a week, 20 days a month, 240 days a year. The probability of a message going to a different workspace is 1 - 1 / NUM_WORKSPACES. Multiplying this by SECONDS_PER_SWITCH gives us the average time lost per message. Multiplying this by MESSAGES_PER_DAY gives us the average number of seconds.

  3. https://actioner.com/guides/slack-app-ecosystem-statistics


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