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Cheat Sheet: When to email, Slack, text, call, and meet

We’re still on the road this week so we’re thinking a lot about which of our communication channels we’re checking in on and how we best serve our partners while we’re out of pocket. The truth is, we operate in a lot of different ways these days and each of them serves a very particular purpose.


The OG method of business communications: the email is not dead, but it has a specific role. Email is slow and persistent. It’s not the method to send urgent requests in but it’s a great channel for important threads that should be documented and worked on over the long term. If you can wait 24 hours for an answer, choose email.

Bonus: The out of office reminder is still an amazing tool to set expectations. Bonus points if you include your other communication channels and set boundaries on when they should be used.


The complete opposite of email, Slack is new school and an amazing tool for productivity. With that being said, it can easily be over-adopted and turned into an unmanageable version of email. Do your part in your Slack community to use it the right way.

Slack is great for quick interactions. Use the right channels and customize your notifications per channel in a way that keeps you both informed but productive at the same time. Remember that anything outside of voice and in-person meetings can be misconstrued so if you think a project needs to be taken 1 on 1 to prevent miscommunication, do it.


The most informal of all the methods, texting is great for putting out fires. Make sure the folks you interact with this way are comfortable with it and you’ve defined clear boundaries between personal and professional. If you’re the sender of the texts, make sure you don’t abuse the privilege and make sure your message is worthy of immediate notification.


Up to this point, every communication method we’ve spoken about is asynchronous: you send something, the recipient responds at a time that is convenient. Calls, of course, require coordination and can be inherently more time-consuming. With that being said, they’re the most direct and effective means of working together. Calls can accomplish in minutes what email or Slack may achieve in hours or days.


The next akin to calls, meetings give you all the benefits of real-time communication with the added feature of interactivity. If you need to visualize, share, or brainstorm, meetings are the way to go.

Bonus: In 2019, meetings don’t mean physically. Make sure you give remote employees the same benefit as those in HQ.