Is there a life without Slack?

Teamwork is happening virtually more and more. Team building should be virtual as well, argues the Director of Insead’s Leadership Development Programme (Global Executive MBA).


Deloitte has coined the term “networks of teams” which describes an emerging trend in many companies where organisation becomes flatter and people work across several teams. Today, teams often work cross-functional and even cross-cultural to finish a particular project or assignment. “Like a Hollywood film crew, they work closely together for a number of weeks or months and disband upon completion of their mission,” Vincent Dominé, an Adjunct Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Insead and Director of the school’s Leadership Development Programme in the Global Executive MBA writes on Insead’s Knowledge Website. “During their work, they are largely left alone by higher-ups to formulate their own goals and work processes.”

Dominé views technology as the major facilitator in this transition to networks of teams. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Trello and other team-based platforms enable seamless, nearly instant virtual collaboration and communication across silos and national borders, he writes.

The professor argues that now is the time that not only teamwork but also team building should move into the virtual place or at least be part of a combination with off-site retreats where teams engage in activities that are not necessarily related to workplace tasks. “I do not expect virtual team building to replace in-person interactions,” he writes, but in his opinion Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. can erode silos where people tend to gravitate towards employees that are more similar to themselves. On these platforms – where psychological safety and data ownerships are key – routines and workflows can be reimagined and relationships within a hierarchy can be maintained or become more fluid.