How Slack's Huddles Gave Us The Boost We Needed To Launch by@alexharris

How Slack's Huddles Gave Us The Boost We Needed To Launch

Adadot’s remote team struggled to establish communication practices that matched the efficiency of in-person, impromptu exchanges, leading to inefficient information flow and stilted collaboration. Slack huddles enabled us to work much more collaboratively, problem solve together, and emulated a ‘desk by desk’ environment, which increased our productivity by 50%, positively affected our wellbeing, and led to a hugely successful launch on Product Hunt. Product Hunt is an online platform celebrating the best new software releases.
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Alex Harris

Founder at Adadot.com. The world’s first fitness tracker for work, helping developers improve the way they work and feel

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TL;DR

  • As a new remote team, we struggled to establish communication practices that matched the efficiency of in-person, impromptu exchanges, leading to inefficient information flow and stilted collaboration.
  • During the lead-up to our launch on Product Hunt, we discovered Slack huddles. These are informal, open calls in a Channel or Workspace, with a focus on audio-only chat, and were released to mimic the environment of office collaboration.
  • Embracing Slack huddles enabled us to work much more collaboratively, problem-solve together, and emulated a ‘desk by desk’ environment, which increased our productivity by 50%, positively affected our wellbeing, and led to a hugely successful launch on Product Hunt.


We’re always looking for a productivity hack – we are the fitness tracker for work, after all. Check out how the lead-up to our launch on Product Hunt helped us uncover our favourite hack below!


Adadot’s remote team

Here at Adadot, we’ve worked with a fully remote model from the start. With no central office or time zone we have the freedom to work wherever we want in the world, which comes with a host of benefits both for wellbeing and productivity.


Our team certainly has a Greek flavor – like all the best things in life – but we are an international company spread across several different countries, all working towards the same goal: making success sustainable, one developer at a time. At the time of our launch on Product Hunt, we had two fantastic engineers working in Greece, our CTO Jason working out of Paris, and CEO Alex was based in London. Not exactly down the hall, then…


The challenges of remote working

Although we completely believe in being a remote work company, and intend to stay that way, getting off the ground as a brand new, fully distributed team wasn’t easy. One problem, which became apparent during the run-up to our Product Hunt launch, was our struggle to establish communication and collaboration practices that replaced in-person chats.


If you’re running as a fully remote team, you’re removing the opportunity to walk over to a colleague to ask for their opinion or expertise, the ability to shout across the desk when a problem arises, and the impulsive chats at the coffee machine that might springboard into a new idea.

We took the decision to work fully remotely understanding the above compromises (and removing the opportunity for constant in-person interruptions can actually do wonders for developer productivity), but we hadn’t yet established a system to replicate the benefits of in-person communication. Working asynchronously and trying to organize meetings was leading to more back-and-forth than meeting time, information flow was stilted, and the team didn’t feel particularly engaged in collaborative working.


We had our work cut out for us to have a successful launch!

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What does launching on Product Hunt mean?

Product Hunt is an online platform celebrating the best new software releases. Each product has a planned launch date, and a competitive algorithm based on engagement ranks all the releases in a 24-hour cycle. Getting to the number one spot on your release day can be a huge boon for a new product, but it isn’t an easy task.


We had a date planned for our launch, we’d started engaging the community to build buzz; all we needed to do next was…finish the product.


It was time for an all-out sprint, and if we didn’t find a way to work more collaboratively and efficiently, it simply wasn’t going to happen.

Time for a Slack hack.


What is Slack?

Slack is a widely-used communication and collaboration platform, particularly popular among developers for useful functions like third party integrations and automations including deployment.

During the run up to our Product Hunt launch date, we were on Slack constantly as we raced towards the finish line, and when we uncovered Slack ‘huddles’, the game changed for us.


What are Slack huddles?

A huddle on Slack is an informal, open call in a Channel or Workspace, with a focus on audio-only chat. Anyone in the group can drop in and out as they please, and people can share screens and draw or annotate. Released in spring 2020, the function was designed to “mimic the fast, informal discussions that took place when everyone worked from the office”, and what do you know, that’s just what we needed!


How did Slack huddles help us increase productivity?

Being able to jump into informal, unscheduled group calls whenever the need arose, have ad-hoc brainstorming sessions and, most importantly, simply hang out and code together in real time, turned remote work into a strategic advantage rather than a problem to solve. It offered a communication and collaboration solution that aligned with remote work, with the efficiency of face-to-face interaction.


  • Huddles helped to emulate a ‘desk by desk’ environment; when all of us were in a huddle together, it felt like working together, even when we were tinkering on separate projects. This helped us adjust into a more team oriented and big-picture mindset: more a part of a whole than a single developer turning in work.
  • Problems were addressed as soon as they arose, as we either spoke up in the huddle we were in, or quickly sent a request to start a new one. It became much less of a ‘thing’ to flag an issue and encouraged collaborative – and therefore faster –  problem solving.
  • If we were working on the same part of the product, collaboration was a lot easier and more efficient when talking through the work in a huddle. The team even compared it to co-op dungeon raiding in a video game (just with more deployment and less trolls…hopefully).
  • The stats spoke for themselves; once we started working in huddles we used Adadot to track our productivity, and saw around a 50% increase in deployment speed, sprint on sprint.
  • Perhaps most importantly, and central to the goal behind Adadot, we saw a real uplift in our team’s wellbeing at work. Creating a more social environment and informal opportunity for collaboration helped us to grow our working relationships and our strength as a team.


The launch date

So how did we do with our launch? Not badly at all! Huddles gave us the tool we needed to successfully finish our sprint, deliver a finished product on the day (as finished as a product ever is), and most importantly gave us a new, collaborative workspace to take us into the future of Adadot.


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And the best part?

You can integrate Slack within your Adadot dashboard, so you can track unique communication metrics and get a big-picture view of how collaboration is tied to your performance. Maybe talk it over with the team in a huddle?


This story was first published here.


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