Remote teams often say they ‘run daily standups via Zoom.’ It’s a logical choice. After all, video conferencing preserves the traditional feel of in-person updates, with people looking at one another in the eye.
The problem is: the approach fails to account for the shortcomings of in-person remote standups. If you don’t sit together, time zones become awkward, short updates turn into lengthy discussions, and a scratchy connection wastes time for all.
There are plenty more reasons video conferencing isn’t the right solution for remote standups — and we can think of at least seven benefits of moving them to Slack.
#1 — Shorter Standups
Slack-based standups are always short. The setup boils the meeting down to a five-minute burst, with each person typing their answers to three questions, reviewing other teammates’ responses in a dedicated channel, and only focusing on relevant details.
If a blocker arises, people can use threads to work through an issue — or if there are no updates to chat about, simply get back to work. Contrast this with video-based standups (which take at least 15 minutes to get through on the best of days), and you quickly see the benefit of running them on Slack.
#2 — Better Side Discussions
The benefit of using threads for discussions is that others can drop out of the follow-up conversation, leaving only the relevant team members to problem-solve. Which, in many ways, is the best of all worlds.
No-one wastes time listening to irrelevant details. And blockers are resolved in the most effective way possible. While if you need to get on a call to discuss details in more depth, you can do so right in Slack.
#3 — No Problems With Time Zones
If you run daily standups in Slack, they can happen asynchronously, at any time of anyone’s day. Suppose your team sits in Sydney and San Francisco; the awkward late-night/early-morning meetings will disappear when you take scheduled meetings out the question.
#4 — No Disruptive Updates
As Slack standups aren’t ultra-time-sensitive, people don’t have to respond right away, meaning no-one has to interrupt a focused four-hour development session for the sake of an often irrelevant 15-minute update.
Instead, folks can find a convenient moment to answer the three daily questions — as well as schedule a reminder to ensure they don’t forget.
#5 — Company-wide Transparency
Verbal updates are hard to digest. In contrast, if you put all the standup answers in a public Slack channel, everyone can review the responses and take time to comprehend the key details.
Better still, the publicly-visible information keeps people both on the same page and accountable. And that’s true across teams: it’s simple to follow company-wide standups using Slack, which also eliminates the need for a ‘scrum of scrums.’
#6 — A Searchable Archive
This benefit is unique to text-based standups: you can time-travel to review past answers.
- Suppose you’re a manager tracking project progress: you can revisit past updates to understand why a project took longer than expected.
- Imagine your team has made a big mistake: you can review what was said to understand what went wrong — and when.
The written records can even help people run more informed retrospectives, more analytical performance reviews, and more accurate project status updates. Few people realize the value of revisiting past answers until the day they run their daily standups in Slack.
#7 — Shorter Video Meetings
Slack-based standups don’t have to replace video calls. You can easily combine the text updates with a conference call, using the content as prep material to shorten the in-person discussion. If a team reads the answers before they get on the call, no-one has to speak for a long time — and the conversation can focus on what’s relevant to all.