While remote work is not a new thing, it is slowly becoming the norm. Employees, as well as companies, are increasingly attracted to (offer) remote jobs or the ability to work from home part-time. Accordingly, the way we work and communicate is changing — and with it the tools we use to get work done.Communication is the #1 challenge of remote work
Tools like Slack, Zoom and Google Hangouts are fine but synchronous communication can be a real productivity killer, especially if your work requires long phases of focused work, such as developing software. On top of that, they create a feeling of urgency and make it virtually impossible to continuously keep up with a certain topic.
Thoughtful and productive teamwork requires a new way of working together that is based on asynchronous communication, respectful of people's productive time as well as clearly organized and easy to search.
Playgroup aims to provide an asynchronous complement or even complete alternative to the way we currently work together remotely. Think of it as a mix of Slack, old-school forums and email that integrates with the tools we already like to use. It enables teams to communicate in a calmer, more organized and thoughtful way, so you can focus on what moves the needle instead of closing communication gaps in your team.
Here is an overview of the core features of Playgroup.
Every user of Playgroup is part of a team, wether you administer it or are a part of one. You can join or create as many teams as you like. Depending on the structure and size of your organization, it can make sense to split into multiple teams.
Just like in Slack and other chat applications, channels let you organize your conversations by topic. They let you separate discussions by department, project, timeframe, you name it... Channels can be shared between teams, so everybody on each team can access and use a channel created in a different team. Channels can be private, so you decide who can join. Inside a channel, everything is a thread.
Threads live inside your channels and are the place where the actual conversations take place. Because every conversation is a thread, sorted away in a separate channel, nothing is lost in unrelated streams of messages, as it often happens in chat applications like Slack. Every thread consists of a subject and an initial message that everybody can comment on. In threads and comments you can @mention others on the team to notify them of a conversation.
Comments are the smallest piece of a conversation and live inside your threads, making up the biggest part of a conversation. For threads as well as comments, you get a full-fledged editor that can be used to embed and preview external content as well as mutliple integrations in the future (GitHub, Slack, Zapier, ...).
In threads and comments you have the option to @mention someone, which will trigger an asynchronous notification on their side – So they will see it the next time they are active.
As a counterpart to mentions, you can yourself decide to follow-up on a thread or comment, so that you don't forget to take part in a conversation or to check back for updates.
Every member has their own profile and can fill out info like their timezone to indicate when they can be reached. Everybody gets to set a status at any time that is visible to your teammates, so everybody is in the know what you're up to.
On top of all that, there are no online/offline indicators and no real-time component. Every team member individually decides the interval in which they receive updates and how they want to be notified, making room for focus-time and a calmer way of collaborating.