What does your team do when your communication channels go down?

Ben Halpern on July 29, 2019

Do you have an official backup plan?

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We're hosting Mattermost (on-premise Slack alternative) privately so it rarely goes down. On those rare occassions we take a coffee break until everything is fixed.


How does Mattermost stack up as a product, are you generally happy with it?


We use it at our company too. In my opinion it is awesome! We also have our own gitlab instance. Both work very well together (mattermost login with gitlab account, notifications for CI pipelines and so on).

Mattermost is releasing a gitlab plugin with its new release!

Disclaimer: I work for Mattermost

That's awesome to hear! What are the features to expect in the upcoming plugin?

Here is the repo, where installation and features are explained: github.com/mattermost/mattermost-p...

My favorite feature is the "Sidebar buttons" feature which shows the counts of your requested reviews, unread messages, assignments and open merge requests. You can click on any of the categories and it will navigate you to the appropriate view in Gitlab.

The Github plugin has similar functionality: github.com/mattermost/mattermost-p...

It looks very promising. I am thrilled to use the slash commands!


It's good, because they've copied most of the good parts from Slack. 😉

Multi-team functionality is the best thing. We can have many workspaces / teams and you only need one set of credentials to access everything. We have an internal team for confidential business and another team for chatting with external stakeholders.

From what I learned hosting a Mattermost instance is pretty easy and requires little configuration. I suggest everyone to check it out if Slack pricing gets too costly or your compliance requires you to control all your data.


Any opinion on Wire vs Mattermost? Wire is open source, end to end encrypted which Mattermost doesn't seem to be, it also has secure screen sharing and so on...


Haven't heard of Wire before. Screen sharing is definitely a killer feature I miss with Mattermost!


No official backup plan, but we do email or... gasp... phone calls. If Slack is down Zoom chat, or if Zoom is down Slack chat.

I may invest in carrier pigeons at this rate though. Feels like quite a few outages and issues recently.


that doesn't work when you're a remote team :D


I don't remember the last time I used the phone for the actual phone functionality :D

Seriously speaking: I'm sure it's a possible last emergency but I think it's best to have a secondary chat tool, possibly hosted by a different cloud provider, when you have a distributed team :)

All you need is a policy and a company wide email that says: "Slack is not working, let's regroup in tool Y in 15 minutes"

Oh yeah don't get me wrong, multiple channels are important :P It just surprises me how it seems so few people use email or phones. I've never worked remotely to be fair, or worked with remote staff, so everyone's always been in the office. But even at my current agency, where there are 60-70 staff on site, we still just email or telephone.

Whatever works best for a company...

I used to work for one that abused emails to the point that it was basically impossible to follow them because some PMs used to CC every possible person that remotely had anything to do with the product on them and anyone had stuff to say. Basically a broken chat :D

Regarding phones calls, I don't know, I guess it's also subjective. I'm not a huge fan personally (but I'm talking in general, not just for work) but it's not that different from having an audio call on any videoconferencing software, is it?

I think the most important thing is to have a plan B when your main tool of communication stops working, whatever that is.

Everything becomes the correct tool if it accomplishes that :)


When slack goes down after our daily, we already know what to work on, so we'll continue and communicate via PR. Otherwise we'll use the time to inform ourselves on new developments (frameworks, libraries, typescript updates, new ES2019 features, stuff like that).


We use Discord and never had any down time.

But we do our best to have an open workspace so we can all communicate.

If there is any points to enlighten we favor a quick call. Or chat in the WhatsApp group chat or via email.


Our internal comms tool is also the internal comms tool for a significant portion of the NHS in the UK.

It runs the same technology used in battlefields by armed forces around the world. Also the same technology used in battlefields of a different kind, like Fortnite, and Eve Online. The same technology is used for the Belgian ambulance app, too.

Both the technology and our deployment are designed to handle the kinds of "adverse network conditions" that would cause Slack and friends to stop working entirely - they didn't build hospitals for good WiFi, it seems, and the armed forces run over seriously low and laggy networks, too.

If we're running into performance issues, we all stop what we're doing and fix it - the fact our communication is down is the least of our concerns. But thankfully, we've never had problems worse than a few slow operations. I really hope that continues. :-)

Oh, the technology? XMPP. Open standard, open source, and yes, you can run your own server.


If we talk about productivity problems in such situation, one of the ways to prevent them is - not to teach the team to be under control.
In the Aspose (the company I work on) we all work independently and with the feeling of self-responsibility and freedom.

We do not depend on the communication channels and each others that much.

So the answer is - we just continue doing what we do. 😊


We use Slack, but the few times it's gone down, we use Basecamp's campfire feature in our main Basecamp project.


This is off-topic to the original thread, but how do you like Basecamp overall?


I like it! It's easy to keep everything in one place. We've gotten into a good organizational flow now - the first few months was a little bumpy - but we've been using it for about two years. We're totally remote, and Basecamp has been a game changer from our prior mix of Trello/Google/Flowdock/prayer.

Basecamp's support ranks up there pretty high for me, too.

There are some things I think Notion does a better job of, but overall, Basecamp is much better for company/business organization.

Thanks for the reply! Having good support (which oftentimes means having a tight product improvement loop) is such a great sign.

I've been a big fan of Notion for things like Team Knowledge Repos and keeping meeting notes, but there are definitely some pain points.

For collaborating on a document, I still haven't seen anything that comes close to Google Docs.

Appreciate the insight about Basecamp!

One of the things I do really love about Basecamp is the Google Drive integration - you can keep links to any Google Drive item in the corresponding project. It's been a gamechanger for project organization.


I am stuck here at a maximum of 30Kbps internet speed today and all I've done today is drink Tea 5 times and walk around looking at people's screens trying to connect to YouTube the entire day. Everybody else is doing the same I guess!


Since Slack was down, I just turned around to talk to the one I was messaging. But he was messaging a guy off-site and our PA was as well so the off-site guy just drove in (apparently the PA was emailing and texting him, too, since Slack was down, so it sounds like he needed to talk to her in person anyway as that was not efficient).


It's hilarious because people start actually talking to each other. It's pretty cool.


Are you by any chance affected by Slack services being slow/down ?

Us, definitely. So far, we rely on emails. But the mobile app is working okay.


If Teams should be down we fallback to mails, phone calls, or we just go to each others desks.


It never happened. We host our own mattermost & Gitlab instance and our own cloud services.


I just shout people's names to get their attention before talking to them.

Remote workers?



We use emails or just Call on mobile if something urgent.


we carefully pat on each others shoulders to get attention but not scare the people with headphones on


Seems like Twitter and FB are the go to chat comms.


I work in telco, when communication channels go down, we panic in a predefined way :P we try all incidents to be resolved within 15 minutes.


If its short I will get a coffee and take a break otherwise, I just email and text.


Go home, take lunch, have free-form idea session.


I read a book for 15 minutes today. So I guess more generally, I just "give up" until they're back :)


We actually talk to each other. Really nice people, who would have known? (just kidding, all hell breaks loose)


I switched temporary from Slack to Team's today.. I'm not sure that reflects anyone else in my team.


Google Hangouts for those who are remote and just straight up talking to each other for those in the office!

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