Attendees as Bret Taylor, co-chief executive officer of Inc., speaks during a keynote at the 2022 Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, California, US, on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Tens of thousands of techies will frolic through kitschy national park-themed decorations in San Francisco's downtown this week as Salesforce Inc.'s annual Dreamforce conference returns in full after two pandemic years. Photographer: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Slack is leading the battle to cut down on meetings

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. We’re still staring at this U.S. Census list of the cities with the highest percentage of remote workers (shoutout to Fremont). We’re also wondering what a less “over the top” Google holiday party looks like. Today, Dreamforce correspondent Lizzy Lawrence reports that Slack wants you to cut down on meetings. Plus, we spoke to the founder of Assistantly about what exactly a virtual assistant does and who’s hiring them.

— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)


In between meeting a therapy pig and meditating by the Dreamforce waterfall, I found time to talk to a bunch of folks about the changing world of work. (Please clap.) And there was one main message: Hours of meetings each day is so last year.

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

  • One of Slack’s main rallying cries throughout the conference was that we should cut down on meetings.
  • That’s part of the goal behind Slack canvas, a collaborative document embedded within channels and built from Salesforce-owned Quip.
  • Instead of just a dead calendar event, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield’s vision is a comprehensive, easily digestible record of the meeting that makes sense, even if you didn’t attend.
  • “We want people to be able to work in whatever way works for them with flexible schedules, in meetings and out of meetings, so it doesn’t have to be this, ‘I’m on a 30-minute video call in order to get anything done,’” Slack Chief Product Officer Tamar Yehoshua told Protocol.

There were quite a few Slack-related sessions, also aimed at helping people reduce meetings. Sure, the fake waterfalls 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 featured prominently.

  • Tamara Jensen, a principal technical project manager at T-Mobile, spoke at a Slack-related session about how to cancel more meetings. She’s leading efforts at her company to replace unnecessary meetings with Slack, though adoption has been uneven across various teams.
  • But no matter what Slack does, Jensen said some people are just going to have some meeting FOMO.
  • “That does take a little bit of training,” Jensen said. “People have to get comfortable saying no and trust that it's going to be offline and available to them.”

Many sessions had to do with the future of flexible, remote work. Dreamforce wasn’t all about killing the meeting. Sessions also focused on the new hybrid and remote reality.

  • One panel was about how to lead in a flexible work world, with speakers like Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud and Calendly CEO Tope Awotona.
  • Sud said her 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 a philosophy and certainty, but also where we need to be agile and flexible.”

Even with a vastly different working world and a smaller Dreamforce compared to years past, the conference environment felt rather normal. Or as normal as a Salesforce cartoon elephant extravaganza can be.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Help wanted

Virtual assistant services have been booming over the last couple of years, Assistantly founder Laith Masarweh told Protocol’s Sarah Roach. Entrepreneurs and execs are hiring remote assistants to help with everything from administrative tasks like managing calendars to sales, marketing, and social media.

VAs can fill in the gaps for solo-preneurs and small teams that don’t yet have the resources to staff up. They can also prove helpful to companies that have recently conducted layoffs, Masarweh said. Some VAs even get hired as full-time employees. Masarweh should know: The person he hired for recruiting help later became his client success manager and, eventually, his chief operating officer.

Read the full story.


With a rocky economy and high inflation, cash flow is key. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to learn what's really slowing cash flow—and what you can do about it.

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By the numbers

Managing hybrid workers is hard, it turns out! Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index report found a few sore spots in the hybrid manager-employee relationship.

  • 85% of leaders aren’t sure their employees are being productive, which has led some companies to use productivity tracking software.
  • Microsoft says this can lead to “productivity theater” by employees focused more on activity than real impact — and “productivity paranoia” by leaders worried that employees aren’t working enough.
  • Managers are having a tough time, too. Almost half of hybrid managers have a hard time trusting their reports to do their best work, 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 do (38%).
  • 81% of employees said it’s important for their managers to help them prioritize their work, but fewer than one in three said their manager had given them clear guidance in meetings.
— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating, or sinking. We’re here to help.

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

⬇️ Wipro has fired 300 workers in the last few months for working second jobs at competing companies, according to TechCrunch.

⬇️ Employees reveal how Pakistan’s most-funded startup, grocery delivery provider Airlift, came crashing down.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.


With a rocky economy and high inflation, cash flow is key. Check out our exclusive report in partnership with Wakefield to learn what's really slowing cash flow—and what you can do about it.

Learn more

Around the internet

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

Googlers questioned an “annoyed”-sounding Sundar Pichai about travel and entertainment cuts, productivity, and layoffs at an all-hands meeting this week. (CNBC)

Addressing burnout is the manager’s job. (Insider)

TikTok is in the workplace. Is that a good thing? (WorkLife)

Would anyone miss cheap conference swag if we got rid of it? (Fast Company)

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

Some early Stripe employees’ 10-year stock options are set to expire next year, and an IPO or direct listing would let staff and investors cash in. (The Information)

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