Company Culture

10 Lessons To Teach In Hiring Freezes & Headcount Reductions

Right now many businesses are freezing headcount and many have had to reduce their headcount by a significant amount.

Here are ten important lessons to help your business progress while it might feel like you cannot do anything proactive within your business, from interview training, to introducing proven frameworks and improving company culture.

  1. Interview Training – improve the department’s ability to interview and encourage the team to interview each other. This will improve skills and enable colleagues to get to know each other
  2. Introduce Management Pods – Improve management teams by introducing rotating management pods, connect small groups of managers and department leads to problem solve and tackle challenges together
  3. Improve Problem Solving – Introduce frameworks and templates to help address and reduce internal issues. One problem two solutions framework is the most popular free framework on Focus and will help your team tackle problems in an open way
  4. Create Two Up Two Across Matrix – Most managers and companies struggle to map out their team members’ career paths, creating the next two steps up or their side steps (helping members know they could become a Product Manager from Marketing or making the move from an expert to the management track is imperative)
  5. Improve Culture With Agreed Department Principles – many departments do not clearly define their sub-culture and do not clearly call out the right behaviours to be rewarded and the bad behaviours that won’t be tolerated
  6. Learn Good Management Traits – Following on from good management traits, learn what traits you and the team like from the department lead and what bad traits you have to remove
  7. Improve Pros and Cons with The Risk Vs Benefits Framework – Pros and cons is often considered the best way of breaking down issues or opportunities, optimise this with the Risk vs benefits, explaining why and think more deeply on nuanced matters
  8. Improve Internal Communications – the core lesson: Short powerful messages + repetition + simple analogies (+ repetition)  = internal communication wins (Never ever over communicate!)
  9. Have More Coaches & Mentors – Remove the stigma around mentors and coaches and look to develop your colleagues with mentorship and repurpose bad L&D practices like going to bad conferences to hiring more coaches.
  10. Review Your Managers Reviews – Quarterly performance reviews from staff members to their managers often stops at their manager reviewing it and often not progressing the advice. One way to remove this bad practice is to ensure the department leads and leader of the business reviews the peer-to-peer and managers’ reviews

Obvious But Always Overlooked Lessons: The most obvious many do not teach is budget management and how to put business cases together to succeed within your business.

Good luck and take this opportunity to grow your people and your business.

Like these lessons? If yes sign up for the weekly leaders letters newsletter

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 117 – Think Big Act Small By When

Dear leaders, for years we have used numerous different methodologies to try and crack performance and roll up into the company objectives.

The trendiest of recent times is the OKRs, I will save my experiences with OKRs for another dedicated leader’s letter, we use SMART goals as a way to help be specific and make the next period of time work clear and simple to understand and execute. 

One of my personal favourites and the most effective I have used is:

Think Big Act Small By When


The whole framework is intentionally simple.

Unlike some of the other goal-setting frameworks, it is designed to be understood by the whole organisation and as a way to keep others accountable. 

  • Think Big: What is the big goal 
  • Act Small: What are the smaller actions to hit the goal 
  • When: When do we need to deliver by?  
  • My addition: Who owns this (owner of the outcome) and who is the sponsor (the team or department lead)

Tips to win with think big, act small, by when.

  1. Never allow ASAP to be used in when 
  2. Always be clear about why think big is connected to the company way strategy 
  3. Always be clear on who you will need to partner with and call this out 
  4. Only create this when you are given the company-wide objectives 
  5. Create and approve as a department (especially if you have a larger management team and many teams within a department)
  6. Check-in fortnightly, repetition wins (this can be in person or asynchronous, the more you run in async the quicker you will become at working at updates and remove the most vocal colleagues)
  7. Hold the owner and sponsor accountable for misses 
  8. You can add a score to each think big at the end of each quarter to understand performance and how it went, this is optional but can work well, especially if you are numbers driven or need a scoring system to rewards those involved 

Can you benefit by using this framework instead of your existing tool? 

Would this make collaboration easier and ensure the business understands the smaller acts to lead to appreciation and curiosity? 

Remember when most frameworks go wrong is when you have to create cross-functional collaboration and be able to hold each other accountable, can you manage this? 

Have a good week ahead and consider how you can leverage free frameworks to improve working styles, collaborations and deliverables. 


Danny Denhard


The 8 Different Types Of Company Leaders 

Over the last decade, we have landed in a place where we demand a different type of leader for the distinct phase of the business. 

Some are obvious, some are less so and there are clear categories these leadership types fall into. Here are the eight different types of leaders. 

  1. Founder 
  2. Traditional 
  3. BAU
  4. Turn around
  5. Pivot 
  6. Growth 
  7. Caretaker 
  8. Returning Founder 


The creator or adopted creator of the company, leads from the front and is often the owner or co-owner of the business. Typically runs the company until the maturity of hires smart leaders to complement them. 

Founders are often blinded by their status and can hinder the business without the right support network. 

Founders are often the ‘visionary leader’ and will serve a long term or until a large market shift and confidence is low within the business. 

Business Maturity: Start-Up 


A leader brought in or took over from a founder and helped to mature the business and develop the business operationally. A traditional leader will often long-serving leader who builds their leadership around them. A traditional leader is often brought into startups and scaleups in the maturity phase that requires rebalancing. 

Business Maturity: Maturing  


Brings a level head to the leadership role, often a high-level and extremely experienced leader who is brought in to create a status quo approach to the company and will expect sustainable growth to the business. This is can be a COO or CFO who is promoted or operated in a similar business and won’t rock the boat too much. A BAU leader often serves for three to five years and is considered the safest pair of hands. 

Business Maturity: Scale Up or Mature 

Turn Around 

This is arguably the toughest role when a company has stagnated and is brought in to turn the company around and start operating more positively. Often a turn around leader is brought in to clean ship, revitalise the company, streamline it or refresh the way the company operates from the top down. 

Turn Around leader is typically in the role for under three years and will go onto another business in the same shape. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 


Specialist leader who is brought in to help the company repoint its product or services to survive or thrive. Often a pivot leader is a specialist who understands different landscapes and applies a new way of thinking and operating throughout the business. The Pivot leader often will reduce headcount or repoint headcount far faster than other leaders and the idea is to drive change from the front. The Pivot leader is often a shorter-lived role and can make or break a business, especially if they do not take into consideration existing company culture and how to repoint resources and explain the company strategy clearly. 

Business Maturity: Start Up or Scale Up


A leader who is brought in with a history of driving change within businesses, this leadership type is focused on the hyper-growth of the business they enter into and often has a lens to sell the company or drive an IPO (or in some specific scenarios a SPAC). A Growth Leader often will have to be focused on changing leadership around them and reshaping the middle management tier. 

Growth leadership is often a mid-term leadership role and can be exciting to the team if run correctly. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 


An unofficial title for most, the caretaker leader is a company lead who will come in for a short period of time and re-focus the business. The caretaker is often an experienced operator internally or externally. Internal caretakers will be taking on a difficult job and often will be the final role within that business, an external caretaker coming in is a six to twelve-month role that will have clear goals often around hiring a new leader and helping the next leader imprint their incoming style. The caretaker can be a brilliant role for experienced operators however it can be a kiss of death for internal caretaker leaders whose next step will be to leave the business or be demoted back to where they were. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated 

Returning Founder 

When the company is struggling or needs to go back to how it was once operating a founder is brought back and drives focus or simplifies how the business operates. Examples of Returning Founders include Steve Jobs (Apple), Howard Schwartz (Starbucks) and Michael Dell (Dell Computers). They have all been brought back to gain control and push the company forward. 

Howard Schwartz is currently on his third term as CEO and is attempting to stabilise the Starbucks business which is a hybrid business between tech and retail. 

Business Maturity: Stagnated or Declining 

2022 Into 2023

In the near future, there will be a lot of change and demand for leadership change, particularly at the end of 2022 and into H1 of 2023 when many businesses understand the new landscape away from the height of the pandemic and the new way of operating in the hybrid work world.

Company Culture

How To Manage Introverts On Your Team

The brilliant Anxious Achiever podcast host Morra Aarons-Mele (an introvert herself) provides a number of invaluable recommendations on managing and empowering introverts on your team:

From The FT Working It Podcast

Tips Provided By Morra & FT’s Kesewa Hennessy:

  1. Remove Meeting Stacking: Remove the demand to do meetings back to back, remove the demand for being on camera (aka reducing mirror anxiety ) and reduce the demand to perform on camera
  2. Stop Shaming Quiet Team Members: Stop naming and shaming introverted members who rarely speak in meetings
  3. Run Better Meetings: Structure your meetings, have an agenda and reduce the demand for loud voices in real-time meetings
  4. Enable Early Opinions: Encourage and embrace introverts (and ambiverts) early in the meetings and encourage more discussion in writing and asynchronously
  5. Recovery Time: Enable introverts to recover their energy while working from home
  6. Encourage Colleagues: to uncover the qualities of introverts (and ambiverts) within your team and encourage these colleagues to be involved in other ways than just speaking within a meeting
  7. Embrace Culture: Each workplace culture is different but that’s what makes your company unique and offers a chance to embrace different colleagues with different personality types. Embrace this and lead by example with this in mind.

Important Resources To Help Improve Management

The FT working it podcast is available on all of the podcast players and full listings of their pod can be found here

Company Culture

The Best Company Culture Books To Read 

Company culture is something so many companies are attempting to reprioritise in today’s micro and macroeconomic climate. 

While many companies are struggling with balancing the company’s needs, the stagnation of performance and ensuring their people are not burning out while a large demand on their performance, it is essential you are planning for the future and improving company culture. 

Here is the definitive list of the eight best books I have read and implemented for developing company culture, with why you should read the book and provide you with a supporting video link to help you get a feel for the book in under an hour for the book. 

Hard Things About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz 

Type Of Culture Promoted: Bureaucratic 

Why Read? Venture Captial leader Ben Horowitz book is a deepdive into making hard decisions as a leader and highlights how as a leader communication is paramount and your role as a leader is making the hard decisions and being real with your company as a leader and this fosters the best culture possible. 

Video Teaser

No Rules Rules – Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings

Type Of Culture Promoted: Bureaucratic

Why Read? Netflix culture deck was the document many companies copied to create their own culture. All of Reed’s lessons, the hard decisions and the ruthless mission for brilliance and candour are told in easy-to-consume stories. It’s not a book on how to build, it’s how to think different and provides insights into the flexible frameworks and decisions made by Netflix execs to foster the culture they demanded. 

Video Teaser

Read Focus’ no rules rules review.

The Art Of Gathering – Priya Parker

Type Of Culture Promoted: Intentionality  

Why Read? Priya Parker offers great insights into why intentional meetings in all forms of life are essential and why without strict guidance humans are not engineered to dislike unguided meetings/gatherings. Personally, I recommend this book for anyone who leads people and is operationally weak or naive and fails their team by allowing no or weak agendas. 

Video Teaser

The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team – Patrick Lencioni

Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture  

Why Read? Patrick Lencioni and the Table Group are known for their forward-thinking and easy-to-consume leadership style and people-first performance approach to company development. The five dysfunctions go through The Table Group’s ideology around leaders’ lead, knowing that conflict can be healthy if the muscle memory is built and maintained as a healthy occurrence and everyone is brought into their role with commitment and ownership of outcomes. 

Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability” – Patrick Lencioni.

Video Teaser

Turn The Ship Around – L. David Marquet

Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture 

Why Read? This is a brilliant book telling you how David Marquet turned around the worst performing boat into the best performing boat by changing how the boat communicated, flipped only the leader shouting orders to trust being shared throughout the boat by flipping language (“I intend to” x is a great reminder how language can be so powerful when making important decisions). A must-read for any senior leader. 

Video Teaser

“Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” – Patty McCord

Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture

Why Read? Patty was an early HR lead at Netlfix and despite leaving earlier in the journey Patty shares why radical honesty is so important within high-performing teams and why freedom and responsibility work so well when everyone knows their role and the expected outputs. This book will help you to reshape your business if you can build resilience within the business and can trust the middle management to buy into and promote honesty and allow freedom across their teams. 

Video Teaser

Decide and Conquer – David Siegel 

Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture

Why Read? David Siegel is the CEO of and is a leader who helped to turn around meetup in the middle of covid and pivot their business in what would have killed many other similar business. David takes you through 44 decisions that will Make or Break All Leaders but have to teach your teams and then adopting within your business with deliberate steps forward. David doesn’t hold back and is frank throughout the book about how difficult it can be to be a leader and make positive change. David promotes open communication, disagreements and tension will help to improve your business, why transparency across the business is key but will be challenging and why kindness (not niceness) will prevail if you build up better and intentional focus. 

Video Teaser

Rebel Ideas – Matthew Syed 

Type Of Culture Promoted: Commitment Culture  

Why Read? Matthew Syed writing is always thought-provoking and something that leaders will need to dedicate time to read, note and consume. Rebel Ideas is full of deliberate questions and examples of different approaches and driving you to encourage collaboration and embrace diverse thinking. Syed highlights a huge number of known issues many leadership teams do not address, important 3 areas to ponder now (1) Dominance dynamic – the flow of information and lack of flow (2) the ignorance towards status games and hierarchy and (3) the wisdom of the crowd but why businesses are often set up for us vs them rather than embracing coaction. This is the book I gift leaders the most and highly recommend you form a book club around your business leadership team. 

Video Teaser

Enjoyed the company culture article? Sign up for the leaders newsletter

Essential Resources To Read

hybrid office Leadership Strategy

Free AOP and LRP Resources 

A dedicated list of free AOP and LRP resources from Focus.

Site data is a great indicator of what is happening in the market and how management teams are operating. From the focus data, it is clear to see what phase many companies are operating at and what activities they are undertaking. 

It is clear many businesses are in long-range planning or revisiting their annual company-wide strategy. 

Below are the most popular and most useful free resources to help you with your AOP’s (annual operating plan) and LRP’s (long-range planning).

Resource Link
(Click below to jump to the free resource)
Use Case / Why To Use
Annual Playbook Template For Company-Wide SuccessA free template to use to create your one company-wide strategy
The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy & TacticsThe explainer behind why you need to understand the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics (and why you should concentrate on the flow of information)
The Focus Corporate Speak Bingo CardThe corporate buzzwords we overuse (this is extremely popular for LRP and creates fun moments when LRP are notoriously tense)
The Lessons From “Why Coinbase Shut Down Woke Activism”Lessons from Coinbase’s deliberate move to remove external political factors and focus on work. Great to understand if you want a top-down company culture or flowing culture
Andy Jassy’s Masterpiece MemoAmazon CEO’s comms masterpiece, a framework of how to use written communications to your whole company. 
Should Companies Remove Chat Apps Like Teams And Slack?A resource to help you understand if you removing instant messengers and chat apps like Teams and Slack will drive positive change within your business and remove the busy badge of honour
Hybrid Work GuideA free detailed hybrid work guide, 35 pages of actionable tips and tricks to make hybrid work for your business
Decision DocumentHow to improve communication within your organisation with an asynchronous document explaining key decisions and how the decisions were made and importantly why. 
Rethink The Leader – Manager – Coach – Mentor – Operator DynamicAn exercise to understand the different dynamics and a way to rethink if you need more managers or actually need to look for more coaches and external mentors
Free Internal Get To Know Each Other Profile TemplateSomething all businesses struggle with is getting to know colleagues and ways to formalise getting to know each other. This template is popular for new and promoted managers 
How To Fix A Toxic CultureSays exactly what it does on the tin, a guide on how to fix toxic and bad company culture

If you are looking to receive the best frameworks and insights on leadership, company performance and company culture, sign up below:

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 110 – The Negative Positive Framework – An Exercise When Preparing For A Downmarket

Dear leaders, I would be doing myself and my focus services a disservice if I didn’t talk about the difficult climate almost all of us are facing. 

Recently there have been many headcount cuts, internal company culture imploding, and companies reducing spend and reshuffling their packs and offerings to work through how the company can continue in this market. 

Strategy is bumped up in importance and Culture is often given the back seat until these important decisions are made. Rightly or wrongly this is how 99% of organisations have to work in survival mode. 

I have worked through and lived through previous big macroeconomic events and been part of organisations fighting for their lives (one, unfortunately, going into administration and another laying off 40% of staff) and it never gets easier for the staff or leadership. 

There is a framework and exercise I created that will help you in the current situation could help you make informed decisions in a framework. 

It is the: Negative Positive Framework

The Negative Positive Exercise: 

  • Group Collaboration: Grab two sets of post-it notes, use two different colours and ideally the larger-sized post-it notes. This can be down on Google slides, notion or miro (or whatever remote or hybrid solution you use). 
    • Break into two teams (ideally with a mix of the most senior and most strategic)
    • One team will take the negatives and the other will take positives 
  • Negative – Write down all the negative thoughts, statements and performance indicators you have. Whoever is the most negative they will love this exercise and many will say i told you so…let them run wild with this section. 
  • Positive – Write down everything you have that are positives, list where there are potentials and where you could optimise or ramp up activities. You will want people with growth mindsets and those who are deliveries working hard on the positives. 
  • Review: When you review these, attempt to pair the negatives and positives together and batch them into categories and subcategories, this way enables you to discuss the best way forward and create a map out potential movements forward. 
    • Any of these that have a cultural impact or impacts subcultures, it is imperative you mark with a special symbol and address these and consider how you shape success with culture front of mind 
  • Action: Break these into your beliefs, build out your bets and build out a six, twelve and eighteen-month roadmap. Mark down the decisions that were made and clearly mark and reshare your decision document.
  • Present and Empower: Present to your team and build action plans around these steps. This should still align with the company-wide strategy but the plans of action will change as will the tactics.   

This is a similar methodology to the risks and benefits framework I recommended before and allows you to build up a way of reviewing the past, reviewing the current options and building the blocks for a more successful future, while showing transparency and being able to discuss the situation company-wide. 

Thanks for reading again this week and I trust this exercise is simple to roll out in your business. 

Danny Denhard

Supporting Free Resources To Help Improve Your Business

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 109 – In-Office Operators: Are You Being Blinded By In-person Performance?

Dear Leaders, this week I want to introduce you to something that is likely bubbling under the surface of businesses who have returned to the office (be it part or full time).

Fair Hybrid? The return to the office has been playing out for a year in some countries and a few weeks in others. Hybrid work is now mostly the default choice within the office-based business world. 

Everyone is doing hybrid differently, flex work (remember renaming home to ‘workplace home’ to be on the same level of importance as the (workplace) office is going to reframe the negative conditioning) locations are where most have landed. 

Many adopt the popular 3:2, 3 in the office 2 at-home model. So the 3 days of in-person in-office time is being seen as more important people time. 

Many leaders are suggesting in person and in-office work is helping address issues. With hints of better connections and more collaboration. 

Many suggest performance has improved. Is this a temporary peak?
Or a trend that will continue? 

A Celebratory Micro-Moment? Should the leaders be celebrating this micro moment just yet? Or should we consider behaviour shifts, or, behaviour resets? 

A Quick Consideration: In-person is often a performance, several treating an office like a stage or a Shakespeare production? Remember the common thread in classic literature was the trusted confidant or friend… was actually the manipulative middle person, controlling situations and skillfully outwitting the protagonist or the leader who ultimately suffers a downfall? 

Performing: The office is often multiple performances a day, from 1:2:1 meetings, to cross-functional meetings, to team standups all performing for different audiences. 

The office is a series of politically-charged performances and games many have worked out in the return to the offices, you have to put on the work game face on again and perform to get ahead or put a brave face on to get your job done while navigating others doing this.

Is It A Win, A Loss Or A Draw? While ‘leadership’ reports returning to the office have been positive, are you seeing the return of the savvy in-office operator? 

Have we seen those who know how to work in-person system gaming the system in their favour? 

Have you seen the return of the savvy middle manager who knows how to answer questions better face to face?
Have we seen the reappearance of the manager (not leader) who can appear to police the in-person physical office more effective, where hierarchy and structure are almost fully recognised? Whereas online work removes some of this. 

Should this political intelligence be celebrated?
Or should this be something you should keep a closer eye on and understand from the signal not the noise of the performances.
Time to have a stance and step up to investigate. 

Leader Lead! Is this something to be concerned about as a leader? 


  • Have you seen individual performance and feedback actually change apart on the surface level? 
  • Has the performance increased over a prolonged period of time? 
  • Has the culture improved? 
  • Have you seen signals of your team members leaving and not reporting these characteristics in exit interviews and feedback sessions? 

These questions have to be answered by you. Ultimately coming down to trust and what environment you want and how you become an effective leader by creating a performance-driven people culture.


Danny Denhard 

Essential Supporting Resources 

Company Culture hybrid office

Shopify Bursts 

In recent months there has been a lot made of rethinking what work looks like and how you balance remote, hybrid and full time in the office.

The demands are very different, some are taking steps like removing chat apps, we have seen slack take a digital first approach to presence, Dropbox and Front take different approaches and the big tech giants like Apple and Google fail in moving away from brand and perk based cultures, while Coinbase is struggling with top down driven culture.

Here is how Shopify are making deliberate steps in improving team work and collaboration in their remote first working environment.

What Are Shopify Bursts?

A fresh way to look at getting the remote teams together and focus on deep immersive teamwork. 

What Features Does It Have?

  • An internal web and internal app that books flights, Hotels, Food and even Experiences 
  • It has an automated check-in process and enables easy collaboration that works for the team or department looking to get in real life and connect or collaborate.
  • Choose what type of thing. Pure work and social activity. 
  • It is important to note this was all in-house built and really connects to the deliberate ways Shopify like to work. 

What About The Offices?

  • The offices were turned into “ports”, where group work and collective problem solving and connections are being made.
  • Access to old offices. Retrofitted community spaces for teams and departments to come together. 
  • The offices become locations and have a booking system – encouraging smart work and times for teams to come together or parts of the teams to come in and work on problem-solving

The data from bursts become available to the leads and prompts a burst over a set period of time and encourages connection and in-person collaboration.

The whole process has a rating system to keep score and ensures it connects to Shopify’s data-driven decision-making.

I personally can see why companies like Shopify have thought through the first to third-order effects of bursts and in-person collaboration. It takes on what the likes of Automattic have been praised for, for years and brings teams together when busyness gets in the way of thoughtful leadership.

The question to ask yourself moving forward: Could you adopt this approach? Or are there elements you could develop out to improve hybrid work and reduce the cognitive load on managers – I would hope so.

Want to know more, listen to:

Listen to Brandon Chu the VP of Product at Shopify explaining his take on product and how bursts work best:

& Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein’s discusses the new set-up and how Shopify & Amazon can play in the same space

Be inspired by Shopify in other smart ways

Leaders Letter 104 – If I Were To Take Over The Company Tomorrow What Would I Do? 

The Key To Winning Business – Be The Power P: The Partner, The Platform, The Piping

Business Performance hybrid office

Should Companies Remove Chat Apps Like Teams And Slack?

In recent weeks, we have seen numerous issues with internal conversations being shared and leaked to the press from internal slack and Teams chats.

Elon Musk Issues: One of the biggest examples was from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, 2600 staff were concerned over their CEO’s tweets. An internal memo raised a number of concerns and a number were fired, with the SpaceX COO commenting:

“We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism”

— Gwynne Shotwell. SpaceX COO

This is a pretty extreme take on genuine concerns raised.

Elon Musk’s recent town hall at Twitter was basically televised via slack and commented in real-time externally via journalists’ accounts. With Bloomberg sharing insights.

Brian Armstrong Issues: Coinbase is another large company example, with the staff concerned over the performance and misguidance from the Chief Operating Officer, Chief People Officer and Chief Product Officer, addressing concerns in their open letter. Coinbase also had issues with political issues throughout 2020 and 2021.

Many other companies have seen issues with tools like Slack and Teams where departments convene and raise concerns or create tribal movements to challenge the leadership’s direction or raise issues externally to force a conversation when ignored internally.

Social Networks Vs Work Communication Apps

These tools act like social networks with reactions, video and photo sharing and often groups forming around non-work-related topics, leading to internal debate and disconnect. When these actions occur, this often causes internal movements to apply pressure for the company to respond to external political topics that the company often never would have.

As we saw from the SpaceX example, we are seeing a lot of hard kick back (including firing) from large firms.

Much of the debate centres around a ‘them vs us‘ scenario, however, are the chat-based apps becoming less work-related and too centred around the private chatter.

A question to answer at a partical level and importantly an operational level? Can you focus work apps around work? Ask 25% of your workforce in an anonymous survey and it will surprise most c-suites.

Hybrid Work Not Hybird Chat?

Hybrid work relies on asynchronous and real-time conversation, many opting for real-time and long threads in slack or Teams, making this the centre point of work rather than software tools like Asana,, Notion, Google Docs or Office products.

Remote companies have worked through specific guides and do’s and don’ts for chat-based tools. Without chat apps, these firms would greatly struggle.

Many departments and colleagues fail to remember the apps are there for work and developing out projects.

Teams sole focus is to connect the Microsoft suite in a team-centric environment. Enabling everyone theoretically to stay on the same page and get work done.

Slack is focused on bringing your digital presence to the workplace through API integration and quick decisions and cross-functional project hubs.

For many, chat apps were the saviour of forced work from home in the height of Covid, many relying on chat apps to stay connected, keep company culture flowing as best they could and be introduced to new colleagues via apps like donut.

Would there be a huge backlash if you decided to phase out your chat app?

Would Removing Non-Work-Related Chat Work?

An issue that has spanned over a decade, could you remove non work related chat from apps like Teams and Slack? Do colleagues simply move their conversations to group chats on their personal devices and over to apps like iMessage and WhatsApp?

Rightly or wrongly, we know a number of managers move to text messages when they need a quick answer and remove boundaries, is this where leaders need to really consider the work life blur and respect that email is for x, chat apps are for y and workspaces is for z (async and deep work)?

Could you remove Slack Or Teams tomorrow?

The likely answer in most execs head is a simple yes.

To most underneath the C suite or founder team it is a hard no.

A few years ago I had to put together a business case for Slack over Teams, the business was reliant on Slack for the integrations into automated reports, for alerts into news items and we were deeply invested in channel management for effective real time work.

Removing Slack would have meant a number of issues for the business and a wealth of knowledge (in conversations and workspaced) removed – this would have removed many different working styles and history of sales conversations, pitch decks and a huge number of celebrations of how we worked under pressure and numerous micromoments and micro events where we beat out competitors and achieved hyper growth through real time collaboration in our newsroom approach.

We were lucky to have a rigirous workspace async working principle that helped us to centralise the most important information.

Many do not have these style of work and struggle to keep up with email, chat apps, team hubs and workspaces. Removing the chat app over night would mean a huge change to the business and a loss of huge amounts of invaluable information that would not live anywhere else.

Removing chat apps sound good in theory but in principle, it will require a huge amount of planning, a huge shift for most working styles and force a step change in communication.

Is there better and more effective operational ways of working away from chat apps? Yes.

Is it worth removing chat apps and centralising conversation around more async documentation – likely but this won’t work for those untrained from this working style and in hybrid and remote work it could actually do more harm to performance and culture.

The Move To The Work Metaverse

When Microsoft, Slack and many other companies see themselves as the work metaverse, it is going to be a challenge to remove your companies and department’s reliance on Teams or Slack. Particualrly when the work metaverse promised more immersive settings and presence in remote and hybrid meetings.

The question for many to answer moving forward is – can we concentrate work on projects and campaigns and remove the tribal working nature enabling all colleagues forming together? Or is chat apps a vital part of modern day work and there will have to be more policing on usage and policy making around chat apps. Most likely.

All in all, removing chat apps will be a huge undertaking and will need such intentionality you may just push colleagues to email, private documents (like open Google Docs) and workspaces.