Slack at Dreamforce: reduce meetings

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. We always watch this US Census List of cities with the highest percentage of remote workers (thanks to Fremont). We also wonder what a minus is “on top” Google’s holiday party looks like. Today, Dreamforce correspondent Lizzy Lawrence reports that Slack wants you to reduce meetings. Plus, we spoke to the founder of Assistly about what exactly a virtual assistant does and who hires them.

— Allison Levitsky, journalist (E-mail | Twitter)


Between meeting a therapy pig and meditating near the Dreamforce waterfall, I found time to talk to a group of people about the changing world of work. (Please clap.) And there was one main message: Hours of meetings each day are then Last year.

Dreamforce is above all a Salesforce show. Still, Slack featured prominently throughout.

  • One of Slack’s main rallying cries throughout the conference was that we should reduce meetings.
  • That’s part of the goal behind Slack Canvas, a collaborative, channel-integrated document built from Salesforce-owned Quip.
  • Instead of just a dead calendar event, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield’s vision is a comprehensive, easy-to-digest account of the meeting that makes sense, even if you didn’t attend.
  • “We want people to be able to work in the way that suits them with flexible hours, in-meeting and out-of-meeting, so it doesn’t have to be this, ‘I’m on a 30-minute video call in order to make something,” Tamar Yehoshua, product manager at Slack, told Protocol.

There were quite a few Slack-related sessions, also aimed at helping people cut down on meetings. Sure, the fake stunts and Matthew McConaughey were splashy, but Dreamforce also hosted hundreds of sessions, like how to improve your Salesforce automations (exciting stuff). But the anti-meeting movement also figured prominently.

  • Tamara Jensen, senior technical project manager at T-Mobile, explained in a Slack-linked session how to cancel more meetings. She’s leading her company’s effort to replace unnecessary meetings with Slack, though adoption has been uneven across different teams.
  • But no matter what Slack does, Jensen said some people are just going to encounter FOMO.
  • “It takes a bit of training,” Jensen said. “People need to feel comfortable saying no and trusting that it will be offline and available to them.”

Many sessions focused on the future of flexible remote working. Dreamforce wasn’t all about killing the reunion. The sessions also focused on the new hybrid and remote reality.

  • A panel focused on how to lead in a flexible working world, with speakers like Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo, and Tope Awotona, CEO of Calendly.
  • Sud said his view is that “nothing is sacred” and that now is the time for openness and experimentation. “Part of our job is to know where we can have philosophy and certainty, but also where we need to be nimble and flexible.”

Even with a very different working world and a smaller Dreamforce compared to years past, the conference environment seemed pretty normal. Or as normal as a Salesforce cartoon elephant extravaganza can get.

—Lizzy Lawrence, Journalist (E-mail | Twitter)

Ask for help

Virtual assistant services have exploded over the past two years, Assistantly founder Laith Masarweh told Protocol’s Sarah Roach. Entrepreneurs and executives hire remote assistants to help them with all administrative tasks, such as calendar management, sales, marketing, and social media.

Virtual assistants can fill the gaps for individual entrepreneurs and small teams that don’t yet have the resources to staff. They can also come in handy for companies that have recently made layoffs, Masarweh said. Some VAs are even hired as full-time employees. Masarweh should know: the person he hired to recruit help later became his customer success manager and, eventually, his COO.

Read the full story.


With a tough economy and high inflation, cash flow is essential. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to find out what’s really slowing down cash flow and what you can do about it.

Learn more

By the numbers

Turns out, managing hybrid workers is tough! Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index report revealed some sore spots in the manager-employee hybrid relationship.

  • 85% of executives aren’t sure their employees are productive, leading some companies to use productivity tracking software.
  • Microsoft says this can lead to ‘productivity theatre’ among employees who are more business-focused than the real impact – and ‘productivity paranoia’ among leaders worried that employees aren’t working enough.
  • Managers also struggle. Nearly half of hybrid managers struggle to trust their reports to do their best, while only 36% of in-person managers said the same.
  • Hybrid managers also have less visibility (54%) into their employees’ work than in-person managers (38%).
  • 81% of employees said it was important for their managers to help them prioritize their work, but less than one in three said their manager gave them clear guidance in meetings.

— Allison Levitsky, journalist (E-mail | Twitter)

Some news from the staff

Does anyone else have a bad case of whiplash from great resignation? It’s hard to know which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating or sinking. We are here to help you.

⬇️ Klarna is restructuring and making cuts after its valuation fell from $45.6 billion to $6.7 billion over the summer, reports Bloomberg.

⬇️ Wipro has laid off 300 workers in the past few months for taking second jobs at competing companies, according to TechCrunch.

⬇️ Employees reveal how Pakistan’s most funded startup, grocery delivery provider Airlift, collapsed.

For more information on hiring, firing, and rewiring, check out our tech company tracker.


With a tough economy and high inflation, cash flow is essential. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to find out what’s really slowing down cash flow and what you can do about it.

Learn more

around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the furthest corners of the internet.

Googlers asked a “bored” sounding Sundar Pichai about travel and entertainment cuts, productivity and layoffs at a town hall meeting this week. (CNBC)

Fighting burnout is the manager’s job. (initiated)

TikTok is in the workplace. Is this a good thing? (Work life)

Would anyone miss out on cheap conference loot if we got rid of it? (Fast Society)

Zuck’s “30-day list” of employees who must reapply to the company is growing. (Fortune)

The 10-year stock options of some early Stripe employees are due to expire next year, and an IPO or direct listing would allow staff and investors to cash in. (information)

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