What a great post. It makes me feel quite surprised that at my last job, group chat (Slack) worked so well — for our smallish group of developers spread across three locations.
A few things that worked well for us:
- one channel per project, which were often dormant
- serious discussion of issues happened in the issue tracker, but chat was useful for sorting out misunderstandings, rapidly throwing ideas around, saying things best not said in public, etc.
- new issues raised got piped into the channel, which made nice conversation starters. the volume was about right (1–2 per day), and it gave a sense that everyone was at least slightly aware of each issue.
- no silliness outside #random
- a super fast “stand-up” every day at 10:30am. Everyone would simultaneously write two sentences: “what I did yesterday, what I’m working on now”. It often triggered follow up discussion in specific channels.
- very sparing use of @mentions, so people’s attention wasn’t grabbed unless really necessary.