ON THIS WEEK’S episode of Have a Nice Future, Gideon Lichfield and Lauren Goode talk to Lidiane Jones, the CEO of Slack, about how to disconnect from your job when the future of work is increasingly always-on … thanks to things like Slack.

Check out some of our Slack (and Zoom) hacks and tips for how to use Slack without driving your coworkers crazy. Plus, here’s some advice on how to work from home without losing your mind.

Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Gideon Lichfield is @glichfield. Bling the main hotline at @WIRED.

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Note: This is an automated transcript, which may contain errors.

Gideon Lichfield: Hi I’m Gid–oh god, sorry. Hello, I’m Gideon Lichfield.

Lauren Goode: And I’m Lauren Goode, and this is Have a Nice Future, a show about how fast everything is changing.

Gideon Lichfield: Each week we talk to someone who’s helping shape our future and ask, is this really the future we want? 

Lauren Goode: This week, our guest is Lidiane Jones, CEO of Slack.

[Slack noises]

Lidiane Jones (audio clip): So what we have been doing at Slack is giving all these capabilities so people can establish norms, but the tools alone are not going to solve it. Maybe I have to come visit you guys at WIRED, help with some processes, and share some of our best practices here in Slack.

Lauren Goode: Gideon, I’m gonna put you on the spot a little bit. What would be your ideal return-to-work situation for WIRED? 

Gideon Lichfield: Well, I, of course want everybody in the office five days a week.

Lauren Goode: Oof, the hammer comes down.

Gideon Lichfield: Just kidding. No, of course not. Even I am not in the office five days a week, and I think after the pandemic, most people would agree, the ideal situation is some kind of hybrid.

Lauren Goode: Do you know who else agrees with you on that? 

Gideon Lichfield: Who? 

Lauren Goode: The CEO of Slack.

Gideon Lichfield: What a surprise.

Lauren Goode: Convenient, huh? Now, Slack is something that we use here every day at WIRED, and it’s become a pretty important part of how I think about remote work, how I get everything done, and our new hybrid way of working.

Gideon Lichfield: Honestly, even before Covid, I’d completely forgotten how we got anything done without Slack. Every single aspect of work in the newsroom—the story ideas, the proofreading, the headline writing—each one has its own Slack channel. But it’s also this whole culture. We swap jokes and announce personal news and tell each other we’re not coming in that day ’cause the dog pooped on the carpet.

Lauren Goode: It’s true, we’re very human on there. I like to say we’re all just awaiting the great slackening where all of our Slacks somehow are released to the public and we all get canceled and it’s a huge mess, and it would be like your diary getting released.

Gideon Lichfield: Right, and I have Slack groups, not just for work, but for my housemates, and my friends, and folks I went to the conference with that one time—it’s all pervasive.

Lauren Goode: And all pervasive is not necessarily a good thing. I think right now we’re zooming towards a future where we are online for work possibly all the time, and it’s a little bit scary.

Gideon Lichfield: So what did you want to know from the CEO of Slack about this future? 

Lauren Goode: So Slack is part of a much, much bigger tech company now. It was acquired by Salesforce in 2021, and then last year, its founder, Stewart Butterfield, stepped down as CEO, and Lidiane took over.

Gideon Lichfield: Meanwhile, there have been a lot of layoffs as tech companies have realized they hired too fast during the pandemic.

Lauren Goode: And Salesforce and Slack are a part of that, and at the same time, Slack is so central to how many of us do our remote work. So I had a lot of questions for Lidiane about her long-term vision for Slack and how that’s going to affect all of us in the future. We’re gonna get to that in my interview with her right after the break.

[Break]

Lauren Goode: Hi, Lidiane. Thanks so much for joining me on Have a Nice Future.

Lidiane Jones: Thank you so much, Lauren. So great to be here and great to connect with you again.

Lauren Goode: It’s great to connect with you again too. Do you feel like we’re having a nice future? 

Lidiane Jones: Well, it’s certainly a disruptive future right now with so much happening in the market. The market conditions are tough. Employees have different expectations about how they wanna get to work, and at the same time, we’re all trying to figure out what life post-pandemic looks like. So it is a very disruptive future, but I get really optimistic, actually, that disruption will finally get us to a more evolved, flexible way of working. So for me, it’s very exciting.

Lauren Goode: Is that because you are optimistic by nature or because there’s something specific happening right now that makes you optimistic? 

Lidiane Jones: I am so glad you asked that because I’m not described as an optimistic-by-nature person. Maybe because I’m an engineer I’m so skeptical, but I’m genuinely excited. You know, I think for a long time, we’ve been in this way of working. And how many times, Lauren, do you feel like you are in a Zoom or some videoconferencing tool all day long, and you’re like, “OK, great, now after eight hours, I actually have to work, I actually have to write, or …

Lauren Goode: Yes.

Lidiane Jones: And I think we’ve been in this very structured, very heavy model of working for decades, and I think now, because of all these disruptions, everybody, and in generationally also, everybody’s expectations, employees expectations around flexibility are so different that companies have to bring those things together: flexibility and also freeing people to actually work.

Lauren Goode: I have to say, I feel that so keenly as a writer and as a podcaster. But as a writer, sometimes I get to the end of my work day and I’ve been on Slack or on Zooms, and then I say, “OK, now it’s time to actually write.” And you have to meter your energy levels, and we’ll get to that a little bit later on in the conversation. But let’s talk about Slack. So we use Slack a lot here at WIRED, and I would say, especially since the pandemic, it’s become pretty vital to our work communications. It really is the modern-day water cooler. I was hoping, though, for this podcast, you could describe Slack for people who haven’t used it before and maybe describe it in a way that it hasn’t been described before.

Lidiane Jones: How I would like for everybody, especially if you’re being introduced to Slack, is to really think about productivity—Slack as a productivity platform. And so when we think about this broader productivity platform, we think about, how do you automate all of these mundane tasks that take so much of our time and connects everything that you do? 

Lauren Goode: It’s interesting that you say that about automation, because when I think of Slack, I don’t actually think about automating my work all that much. There are Slack bots that people can use, but it’s still just … It’s a lot of people, it’s several people typing, to use the Slack phrase, at once. It’s still, to me, very human-centric. Why do you see it as something that automates our work? 

Lidiane Jones: It’s because we think about automation today as an IT process that gets rolled out into us that then we have to react to, and what we’re trying to do is get end users to automate the repetitive tasks. Funny enough, someone today, out of the blue, saw me in the office—I was in the office earlier today—and said, “Oh, can I tell you, I was a new employee, and I got to ask my IT from Slack for a new software and I got it immediately because it was automated. I didn’t know it did that.” So it’s these little pleasant, like, things can just be simpler. So our automation is not the traditional way that most people think of automation. It’s kind of human-led, empowering the users to facilitate the way that they do their work.

Lauren Goode: So you just took over as Slack CEO late last year, following a long tenure by founder Stewart Butterfield, who left the company, and prior to this you were an executive vice president at Salesforce. So you were in the building, so to speak. But before that, you were at Sonos. So Salesforce, Sonos, two very different companies. Why did you transition from a very consumer-focused company to enterprise software? 

Lidiane Jones: One of the reasons why I came to Salesforce was because during my time at Sonos, Salesforce had a very impactful trajectory into Sonos’ success. But when Stewart reached out about this job, which—I’ve long admired Stewart and obviously a huge fan of Slack—when he reached out, I was like, “Wow, I love enterprise software, and I love consumer experiences.” So it’s been totally my dream job to be here, because it brings the two things that I love the most, and it’s been an honor to come in following someone who’s just as incredible as Stewart is.

Lauren Goode: So when Stewart reached out, was that to bring you into Salesforce, or was that to actually talk to you about the CEO job for Slack? 

Lidiane Jones: Talk to me about the CEO job.

Lauren Goode: And when did he first reach out to you about that? 

Lidiane Jones: It was late summer, early fall last year. So it was early on the search, and of course, it was a pretty lengthy search for candidates internally and externally, but it was last fall. It was a few months of conversation.

Lauren Goode: There have been reports that there is a dissonance between the two cultures of Salesforce and Slack. It’s been reported in a few outlets. I have verified it myself with people who work at both companies. I mean they’re one company now—but both entities. How do you as CEO manage those cultural differences? 

Lidiane Jones: Coming from having a few years at Salesforce and now coming to Slack, you start to see the differences on how people work, and I talked about product, but the way … Because I worked at Sonos and I worked at Microsoft, Slack is a lot more like Sonos. It’s highly experimentational, and there’s certain cultural aspects that come with that. The team is highly humble, and we always have to learn based on consumer insight. And when you work in a large enterprise company, you’re making some bets and then you’re going after those bets, so that causes just cultural differences.

Lauren Goode: You also became CEO of Slack at a time when the entire tech industry is facing something of a reckoning. There have been layoffs across the industry. Salesforce has not been immune to that. It has laid off or said it’s going to lay off 10 percent of its staff. Slack was affected by this. What was that like for you, being put into the CEO role and then having to face layoffs almost right off the bat? 

Lidiane Jones: Definitely not the way that I would like to start any team—to start when there’s so much churn and pressure happening. What I have to tell you though, that’s been just a huge testament of this incredible Slack team and the culture that the team has had, is how much the team has welcomed me, even though I’m like, “OK, I’m changing so much here right after a great beloved founder is leaving,” but the team is really resilient. So it’s been just a great start despite all the changes. So certainly a tough couple of months, but so humbling and such a welcoming set of people and teams, so it’s been very rewarding actually.

Lauren Goode: It’s been rewarding to go through the process of layoffs? 

Lidiane Jones: No, no. Rewarding to get to know the team during a tough time, because I think that’s when you really see what people’s values are made out of, and during even a tough time like this when we are all really sad for the colleagues that are affected by this, how people are coming together to support our colleagues, but also to support our customers, so that has been—it’s the silver lining.

Lauren Goode: What do you think comes next in terms of the belt tightening? I heard Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, say in another podcast and in news articles that maybe some of these folks would be hired back eventually, and then maybe there’ll be a sort of equilibrium that’s established. But what really happens next in terms of tech companies looking at their bottom line, trying to appease Wall Street and then making changes accordingly? 

Lidiane Jones: I think a time like this, especially for tech companies where there’s just been a lot of spending, and in the industry in general, there’s a lot of spending, is that it will allow us to be focused on value creation, and I think that’s a positive in all of this, is that if we really put our energy with the team that we have on creating value to customers, especially during a time of so much chaos, it’s gonna create more long-term healthy businesses. If you look at every one of these massive crises of the last few decades, usually the companies that focus on customer or value creation for their customers have a huge and positive upswing when the market gets better. And so I think that tension is actually a healthy thing for the industry—definitely not easy—but a healthy thing for helping companies be more grounded on what’s really important for their customers. And I think there’s been just a lot of loose speculation on all sorts of different efforts and I think this is gonna be a good grounding for the industry, to be honest with you.

Lauren Goode: What does that actually mean to you? What is value creation? When people say that, when you’re talking about the tensions that exist right now, and you’re saying the companies that focus on value creation end up coming out winners in the long run, what does that actually mean or look like? 

Lidiane Jones: Well, for me, certainly is, what is more important to our customers? And what I have seen in general, in general—prior to economic crisis—is there is a lot of products without a purpose or a problem that they’re really trying to solve for a customer. So I think for us here at Slack, it’s been: What are we helping our customers with, and what are the key capabilities that’s going to help them succeed the fastest? So being really grounded on, is a product and the service or the capability of delivering really going to help solve a meaningful problem? I think that kind of discipline was a little bit lost, to be honest, in the industry, so I’m really excited to just focus on what’s going to be the most valuable.

Lauren Goode: What would you say is the goal you are ultimately trying to advance with Slack right now? 

Lidiane Jones: Well, I think there’s two big ones. One is, we have this productivity platform, so our goal really is to help more companies gain productivity gains, so that they can really bring their entire stack to Slack. The second one is deeply integrating to Salesforce because it will give us the ability to be more tailored for different types of users.

Lauren Goode: So the end goal of Slack is Slackforce? 

Lidiane Jones: No, I would say the other way around. I would say the goal of Slack is that everybody—

Lauren Goode: Sales-Slack?

Lidiane Jones: Sales-Slack, I would say it’s a little bit more that way, because end users will tell me about Slack. They don’t talk about, “I’m really excited to jump into Lightning.”

Lauren Goode: CRMs.

[Laughter]

Lauren Goode: Right, exactly. Let’s talk about remote work. What is the future of remote work in your mind? And we should set the scene a little bit here. You’re dialing in from Boston where you’re based. I said something to your team about how you’re a remote CEO, and they quickly corrected me and said, “No, no, no, Lidiane is out on the West Coast a lot, and she’s traveling about, and she’s meeting with customers.” So you’re very involved clearly, but you are in Boston, working for a California-based company. Salesforce has not mandated that everyone return to the office, but I believe Benioff has started to say that certain teams should be in the office a certain number of days per week. That’s starting to happen a little bit more across the industry. What is our post-pandemic work world look like actually? 

Lidiane Jones: I think there’s such a reckoning right now, because, we did a survey, our Future Forum did a survey, and two-thirds of employees want flexibility. They need to be, not only where they work but also when they do their jobs. I think that companies will be more successful in the long haul if they embrace flexibility as a way to also innovate and advance their business and whatever it is that they’re going after. So the future of work, in my opinion, is flexible for sure. I love that you called out that I’m in Boston, because, quite frankly, our team is so distributed now. For our sales teams, we are asking for people to meet customers more where they are. So some customers do wanna meet in-person for enabling learning product, learning how to work with other technologies. Like, we’re doing a lot of that in-person, so it depends on the job. For product and engineering, we are giving teams the flexibility to build a team agreement. So what we have found is, it’s much better if the team decides how they wanna work and how do we be inclusive, and that’s been more effective.

Lauren Goode: This hybrid model you’re talking about is really a total revolution of how we all go to work, and it makes me think a lot about the implications for the future. I think about people who are just starting out in their careers and how they might not be able to establish important social connections that really gets solidified when you’re face-to-face. But then on a societal level, I think about how this is going to affect cities. We just had a conversation with the mayor of San Francisco for this podcast, and we asked about the various ways the pandemic really has changed the face of our downtown. So when you think about the future with this hybrid work model, how do you think it’s going to play out? 

Lidiane Jones: I think there’s two folds into that comment you made. The first is, I met my husband at work. A lot of social—

Lauren Goode: Which job was that? 

Lidiane Jones: That was in Seattle at Microsoft. We didn’t work together, but we had mutual friends, but your early-in-career network comes from the people that you meet. A lot of the close, close friends that I have came out of those first few years. And so we actually have seen that here at Slack and Salesforce at large, is that the population that’s struggling, not struggling from performance, but struggling to be happy, are the people that are newer in career because they don’t have a more organic natural way. To cities, that’s a much more complicated conversation, because even if you look at the population of the United States over the last couple of years, there’s been massive movements of, some states are losing people, other states are gaining people, because now it’s hybrid options and there’s tightening of that across different industries now, but it’s still highly flexible by and large. It gives people the ability to go live in places where cost of living is not as high, or quality of life can be a little bit better. So I think that’s going to also raise the bar. I think that, for companies and for government officials, increase a responsibility for how we create a more inclusive environment in urban cities, particularly.

Lauren Goode: I tend to agree with you that the future of office work is somewhat hybrid, at least for the foreseeable future. I don’t know about the long-term future, but I have a couple of questions about what that means. When I asked you earlier to define Slack for someone who hadn’t really used Slack before, one of the words you said was productivity, and productivity, it’s a little bit of a dirty word these days, because we’re supposed to be reevaluating our relationship to work. And I don’t wanna make this the customer complaint line, but just yesterday, in Slack, I put up my sick emoji. I really needed a day. I wasn’t feeling well. It was just completely ignored. The wall between work and personal is so porous now because of the pandemic, because of these remote work tools. What do you think is the future of this always online culture? 

Lidiane Jones: The thing with Slack is that Slack is extremely powerful and flexible. So it can be very much a reflection of how your team’s culture gets developed. So one of the key things we’ve been talking to a lot of … I’ve had this conversation more than I would’ve expected in two months, is how to help your organization properly express culture in the platform itself. It is top of mind though, Lauren, believe it or not, a huge focus for a lot of leaders has been how do we help our employees also be healthy, because the exhaustion that everybody’s feeling is real. So we’re really putting a lot of energy and helping companies implement Slack to truly be a productive platform and change the narrative of productivity as a positive thing, but then to free that productivity or to be your best self and then you can actually enjoy your life as well. So we believe we really—I certainly personally believe that you have to have a space to recharge and recalibrate your mind.

Lauren Goode: Do software tools around that work? Can we actually use software to fix what is a problem with our relationship to software? 

Lidiane Jones: So I think it’s both tools and the norms that you wanna establish in your company. And so I think the processes and the cultural tones have to be set right for people to feel like they have the permission to not be on their computer all the time. And then the tools is an augmentation of that. It’s helping express that—that it’s OK. So what we have been doing at Slack is giving all these capabilities so people can establish those norms. But the tools alone are not going to solve it. Like you said, everybody ignored your sick emoji, that’s not a great sign. Maybe I’ll have to come visit you guys at WIRED, help with some processes and share some of our best practices here in Slack. We’ll be happy to do that.

Lauren Goode: Yes, you’re gonna help the—if the CEO of Slack would like to come help us troubleshoot Slack, I’m pretty sure we’re not gonna say no to that. So yes, but I hear what you’re saying, and that it has to be … a cultural tone has to be set and then software has to, I guess, help implement that or augment it. It does feel a little unnatural and perhaps unhealthy to rely on the same software tools for fixes that are helping to create the problems in the first place.

Lidiane, thank you so much for taking the time to join me on Have a Nice Future, and I hope you have a very nice future.

Lidiane Jones: You too, Lauren. It’s wonderful to be here.

[Break]

Lauren Goode: So Gideon, is this the future you want? 

Gideon Lichfield: You mean a future on Slack my whole life? 

Lauren Goode: Your entire life. Slack or Zoom, take your pick.

Gideon Lichfield: I mean, do we have a choice? 

Lauren Goode: We do. We can choose Teams instead, or WebEx.

Gideon Lichfield: What I mean is, can you see us going back to a world in which we’re doing it less, where it’s more compartmentalized somehow? 

Lauren Goode: No. No, I don’t.

Gideon Lichfield: And are you OK with that? 

Lauren Goode: No, I’m not. I think what Lidiane said about how a workplace is somewhat responsible for establishing culture around being offline, being really offline when you’re offline, I think some of that is valid. But I also think that these tools are the thing that have made that wall between work and life so porous—that make it impossible for us to truly sign off. I just think that we’re living so … Ever since the pandemic, we’re just living so much of our lives online. I can’t imagine us ever moving backward without making a major conscientious effort to make that the case.

Gideon Lichfield: Do you believe tech companies when they say that they can design tools in such a way that we’ll use them more consciously, more conscientiously, or is it really about the culture that we establish at the company of how much we use the tool or not? 

Lauren Goode: Can they design them to be that way? Sure. Will they? No.

Gideon Lichfield: Because? 

Lauren Goode: I mean, well, just look at what Lidiane said about the future of Slack being basically more absorbed into Salesforce’s software suite. They’re competing with the likes of Microsoft Teams over at Slack, which has many, many millions of more users than Slack does. And part of the reason why Teams is so successful is because it’s baked into Microsoft’s gigantic Office suite. These companies will do anything, I think, they can to get us to use more and more and more of their software. So sure, they might put some sliding tools in place or change the design of a status icon, or give you screen time analytics or whatever it is so that you can measure your activities, but ultimately, they’re not incentivized to actually have you use their software less.

Gideon Lichfield: Lidiane talked about Slack as being about productivity. Do you agree? 

Lauren Goode: I think with Slack, it’s a very fine line between actually using it for productivity and LARPing your job—which, I cannot take credit for coming up with that phrase. Well, it means live action role playing and it’s—

Gideon Lichfield: Pretending to work.

Lauren Goode: I was not the first person to use it to apply to the workplace. But yeah, it’s very easy to get sucked into Slack, the various channels that you talked about earlier, and feel like you’re doing your job, but actually you are pretending to do your job or you’ve convinced yourself you’re doing your job. One thing I thought was interesting about what Lidiane said, related to productivity, but she used the word automate, was that I got the sense that there is gonna be a lot more AI in Slack and that that’s gonna be part of the big-picture-automation aspect of it.

Gideon Lichfield: You mean that it’s gonna write your Slack messages for you kind of AI? 

Lauren Goode: Yeah, absolutely. They’ve already talked about integrating ChatGPT so that you would be able to, like, ask GPT something in Slack and it would spit out a response to you and that’s totally automated. Now, is that that much different from the Slack bots that you can currently use? 

Gideon Lichfield: Are you saying that next time I Slack you, Lauren, it’s gonna be ChatGPT that’s answering, pretending to be you? 

Lauren Goode: Yes, I’m going to be taking a nap, I’m going to finally be taking some time away from the screens, and it’s going to be my ChatGPT bot responding to you.

Gideon Lichfield: Maybe that could actually work. Maybe I could even get behind that. I’ll just wanna make sure my ChatGPT bot is answering your ChatGPT. Well, then they can just talk to each other and we can go off and do journalism.

Lauren Goode: They can. They can. Can you imagine the magazine they’re going to put out? [Laughter] Can you imagine working without Slack? 

Gideon Lichfield: I literally cannot imagine working without Slack or without some kind of synchronous chat. I don’t remember how I got things done before. I don’t remember how I communicated with people before. It must have happened, but …

Lauren Goode: You’ve been in these rooms for a little while.

Gideon Lichfield: I almost feel like Slack is like that kind of zombie fungus that takes over your brain and just changes your perception of the world, because I literally cannot understand how it was before, and that’s very disturbing.

[Laughter]

Lauren Goode: Does Marc Benioff know that he spent $28 billion on the Cordyceps of software? 

[Laughter]

Gideon Lichfield: Exactly.

Lauren Goode: So how do you personally handle that in our new possibly permanent hybrid work world where we are always online, where actually our home spaces are in many ways our workspaces? You are traveling around a lot as the editor in chief of WIRED. You’re still always connected. You can’t even get on a plane without being connected now. How do you put up those boundaries? 

Gideon Lichfield: Paradoxically, I think the fact that this communication is so easy now on our phones is also what makes it easy to stop. Like you have the phone, it’s a physical object. You turn it off, or you put it in your bag, or you say, “I’m just not gonna look at this device after 10 pm or whatever.” And it can be hard to discipline yourself around that, but easy in the sense that it really is just one device and you can ignore all of it—if you want to.

Lauren Goode: So you’re seeing that as the portal to this entire world, and provided that you have a little bit of self-control over the portal in your palm, then you’re not checking 17 different apps.

Gideon Lichfield: Exactly.

Lauren Goode: And you can actually pause.

Gideon Lichfield: Yes, and that’s what makes it simple, because there are 17 different apps but only one phone.

Lauren Goode: But then do you, like, wake up in the morning, and at 6 in the morning you’ve gone a blissful eight hours of sleep and there’s an email from Anna Wintour addressed to you and you’re like, “Wow, I really should not have put my phone down for this long.”

Gideon Lichfield: No, it’s more like, “I really should not have picked up my phone just now. I should have waited and gone, had breakfast and some coffee and done some exercise and then picked up the phone, and Anna Wintour can wait.” Sorry, Anna.

Lauren Goode: Wow, you heard it here first. Dare I say that is remarkably healthy, not specifically to your boss, but to any boss.

Gideon Lichfield: That would be the ideal. I’m not saying that that is what I actually achieve every morning, but that is what I aspire to do. But I do think what Lidiane said is very important about establishing culture. On Slack now, you can schedule messages to not be sent until the next morning, but I think you also just have to establish a workplace culture that says if you get a Slack from me outside your normal working hours, I don’t expect you to respond.

Lauren Goode: Isn’t that in some way the ultimate form of tech solutionism though? That, “Oh look, they’ve added this feature where you can schedule something. They’re fixing the problem that all of this software helped create.”

Gideon Lichfield: Right, but that’s why I’m saying that it also has to be a matter of culture. Like you can have the Schedule Message button, but I think you also should just establish the expectation that if somebody sends you a message outside working hours, then they shouldn’t expect a response unless they absolutely need one, and if they absolutely need one, that’s what phone calling is for.

Lauren Goode: I think it all goes back to the Away message. I think we have to return to the days of AOL instant messenger Away messages.

Gideon Lichfield: Which you can have on Slack though, can’t you? 

Lauren Goode: You can, but no one pays attention to them. I talked about this with Lidiane. It was like the customer complaint line. I was like, “And by the way, let me tell you this thing that happened in Slack,” and even when I silence notifications on one device, I could hear like the notifications sound from Slack coming through my iPad across the room.

Gideon Lichfield: But were you responding to these messages? 

Lauren Goode: I was. I was. And I even hopped on a Zoom with you and another editor that day.

Gideon Lichfield: So I feel like you’re blaming the software. I mean, yes, the sick emoji exists to signal that you are sick, but you’re also, I think, enabling other people’s behavior if you respond to it. In other words, if you put up the sick emoji and other people message you, maybe they’re interpreting the sick emoji to mean, “OK, I can message her, but I don’t expect a response from her.” And if you do respond, then you are the one actually who’s breaking the compact rather than them.

Lauren Goode: That’s probably true, but it’s hard to tell sometimes just from like that constant notification sound, what is actually: This is from Gideon and this is urgent versus this is someone who’s sending me a cat photo in #catchat.

Gideon Lichfield: But if you play into the always-on availability that Slack makes possible, then I think you have to actually take your own responsibility for being in that dynamic.

Lauren Goode: I think you’re victim blaming.

Gideon Lichfield: I’m victim blaming? I think you’re software blaming.

[Laughter]

Lauren Goode: Gideon, I hope you have a nice future.

Gideon Lichfield: I hope we all do, with Slack or without it.

[Music]

Lauren Goode: That’s our show for today. Thanks for listening. Have a Nice Future is hosted by me, Lauren Goode.

Gideon Lichfield: And me, Gideon Lichfield.

Lauren Goode: If you like the show, you can leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and follow us to hear more episodes.

Gideon Lichfield: And we want to hear from you too. Email us at nicefuture@WIRED.com. Tell us what you’re worried about, what excites you, a question you have about the future, and we’ll ask our guests. 

Lauren Goode: Have a Nice Future is a production of Condé Nast Entertainment. Danielle Hewitt and Lena Richards from Prologue Projects produce the show. 

Gideon Lichfield: See you back here next Wednesday, and until then, have a nice future.