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Why Are Families Starting To Run Like Businesses?

These tools and service were developed to help the biggest companies in the world, so why are they being increasingly used in the home?

Workplace communication software has doubtlessly changed the face of modern business. The advent of Slack (NYSE: WORK), Atlassian’s (NASDAQ: TEAM) Trello, and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Teams have all enacted such a transformation on how colleagues interact that even email has begun to look like a dusty old technology.

However, workers have increasingly grasped the value these tools can have outside of the office. More and more, households across the country are adopting the likes of Slack and Trello in order to better run their family lives. The data is not yet in, but with features that allow for task management, event organization, project planning, and real-time communication, these apps could soon prove as invaluable to modern domestic life as microwaves and air conditioning.

The need for smart technology in the household has been growing as family dynamics have changed. With as many as 65% of college-educated parents admitting to having trouble balancing work and family life, a tool like Slack — which permits a great deal of organization and planning, as well as individual and group chats — has proven invaluable to some parents.

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A recent piece published in The Atlantic, entitled ‘The Slackification Of The American Home’, investigated the phenomenon of using work software to better organize the household. One interviewee revealed that her home life had been utterly changed by the adoption of Trello and other tools: “We do family meetings every Sunday where we review goals for the week, our to-do list, and activities coming up… I track notes for the meeting [in Trello]. I have different sections, goals for the week, a to-do list.” 

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Mentioned by many of the families interviewed in the piece, Trello is a particularly interesting case. Initially unveiled in 2011, the app — whose interface was inspired by the famous ‘Kanban’ scheduling system pioneered by Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno — allows users to visualize and manage projects by dragging virtual cards between three categories: to do, doing, and done. Trello really took off in 2017 when it was acquired by Atlassian and incorporated into the larger software company’s suite of workplace apps. 

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However, Trello’s value in the home has not gone unnoticed by Atlassian. “We think of Trello as a tool you can use across work and life,” said Stella Garber, Atlassian’s head of marketing. “The example we had on our homepage for a long time was a kitchen remodel. On our mobile app, the example was a Hawaiian vacation. We know humans have a lot of things they need organized, not just what they have at work.

Indeed, Atlassian’s promotional material seems to reflect this broadening market. Once billed more or less exclusively for office-workers and freelancers, the company’s apps now emphasize their utility in any sort of project planning. “Whether it’s for work, a side project or even the next family vacation, Trello helps your team stay organized,” reads the app’s current download page.

‘All happy families are alike,’ goes the opening sentence of Anna Karenina, ‘but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ The rise of tools such as Slack and Trello in the context of a household may compel us to update Tolstoy’s sentiment. In the future, unproductive families may be unproductive in their own ways, but the ones that function efficiently will all look about the same, which is to say, something like a small — and hopefully successful — business.

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MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Atlassian, Microsoft and Slack. Read our full disclosure policy here.

Jamie O'Donoghue
Jamie O'Donoghue
Jamie is a contributing writer for MyWallSt.