Tech troubles | Slack outage highlights perils of remote working

Slack outage highlights perils of remote working

Thousands of workers were left unable to contact their colleagues yesterday after one of the most popular remote work comms tools went down.

Many Slack users found themselves either unable to connect or log in to the messaging site on Tuesday, while others reported messages either not sending or disappearing instantly as they tried to communicate with co-workers.

On its Twitter account, the service said: “Some customer may be experiencing issues with loading Slack.

“We’ll provide a status update once we have more information. We’re sorry for the disruption.”

The system has since been restored to full working order.

Alongside the likes of Zoom and Teams, Slack was one of the many digital comms tools to experience a boom in popularity as a result of the virtually-overnight switch to remote (and later, hybrid) working when the first lockdown was announced.

The platform now has estimated 10million daily users.

Tech woes hit remote workers

Slack’s temporary outage was not the first time in recent months that hybrid and remote workers have suffered from major disruption.

In October 2021, a Meta (formerly Facebook) outage decimated the world of work, leaving many workforces unable to communicate for hours.

The social media behemoth, which also runs Instagram and WhatsApp (both of which were also stricken), experienced a server outage lasting nearly six hours, rendering its platforms unusable. In a later blog post, Facebook blamed faulty configuration changes on its routers as the cause of the blackout.

The company’s global security team “was notified of a system outage affecting all Facebook internal systems and tools,” according to an internal memo sent to employees and shared with The New York Times. Those tools included security systems, an internal calendar and scheduling tools, the memo said.

Staff were also left struggling to make phone calls from work-issued mobile phones, and were unable to receive external emails too, it was reported.

Companies across the world rely on Facebook platforms as an alternative to Slack, Zoom and Teams, leaving many unable to do their jobs or speak to one another if disruptions do occur.

Should HR be worried?

The disruption in Slack and Facebook highlights the increasing reliance on tech in the modern workplace – showcasing some of the impact one day-to-day operations that can occur because of said reliance.

In an ironic twist, following a year that has made technological comms invaluable, an overload of digital tools designed to boost efficiency could be hindering workers’ productivity.

That’s according to research from Personio, which found that over a third of employees (37%) reported that there are too many different digital tools to use, and 36% stated that working across different tools disrupts their productive flow.

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The research – based on a survey of 500 HR decision makers and 2,002 workers across the UK and Ireland – also highlighted the extent to which Covid-19 and the increase in remote working has caused a surge in the use of digital tools in the HR function, particularly.

Since the onset of the pandemic, 44% of HR decision-makers have seen an increase in the number of digital tools they use for people related tasks. On average, organisations report using six different tools for people-related tasks and insights alone – rising to eight different tools in large businesses.

Amongst HR decision-makers using multiple tools for people-related tasks and insights, a quarter (25%) recognised that this causes frustration amongst employees, and a further 24% observed that multiple tools slow down processes and cause unnecessary delays. Meanwhile 23% observed that this disrupts employees, interrupting their flow.

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