Why families are using workplace software to run their households

Referring to the old cliche’, I’d say that I have “a lot on my plate”, but that would be a massive understatement. It’s as if my plate just went through an all-you-can-eat buffet and is now toweringly full. And I’m only a twenty-something, workaholic. I couldn’t fathom adding a wife and kids to this plate.

Honestly, it’s no wonder that families are using workplace productivity software to keep their households in order.

Wait, what?! Families are using Slack, Trello, Asana, and Jira – software designed for the workplace – to run their households?

The Family Business

When Tonya Parker, a mom in Illinois, wanted to better organize her family life a little over a year ago, the first thing she did was set her kids up on Trello, a web-based project-management tool. Parker’s four children, ages 9 to 18, now use Trello, which is more typically used at work, to keep up with chores, to-do lists, shopping, and homework. “I use it every day to keep track of what schoolwork I need to do, or places I need to be, things to buy,” Hannah, her 15-year-old daughter, says.

Lorenz and Pinsker, The Atlantic

The knee jerk reaction to this is that they must be operating like a regimented, military household. But they aren’t. Honestly, it’s a necessary and logical response to life today:

“I see the use of business software within households as an effort to cope with feeling too stretched at work,” says Erin Kelly, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management…

The same tools that systematize their workdays might appeal as a way to cut down on the time they spend organizing life at home.

Lorenz and Pinsker, The Atlantic

The simple fact is that these are very versatile tools that can provide a lot of structure outside of the workplace. For instance, I know a cartoonist who uses Asana to log all of his ideas and keep track where he is in the creative process. Trello advertises how their tool could be used to organize a kitchen remodel from start to finish or plan a family vacation. Not to mention the thousands of odd Slack groups ranging from coffee snobbery to cinephilia.

So using workplace software in the household shouldn’t be that bizarre of an idea.

In the end, these tools help achieve what every family is looking for: streamlined communication and accountability. Heck, it might even help put in perspective everyone’s contribution around the house – helping settle the classic “I do everything around here” dispute once and for all.

Of course not every family will respond well to the structure these tools create. But it’s at least worth a try.

In fact, there’s a greater, overlooked benefit to this, as well.

Prepared for the Workforce

Previously, I’ve talked about why the Future of Work is hungry for more adaptable generalists. And it’s true. Adaptability will be the number one skill to the future workforce. But equally important is the ability to communicate with colleagues and superiors – a skill that takes new workers many, many years (if not, a lifetime) to learn.

If you enter a job and are already a Slack saavant or an Asana aficionado, then you’re going to have a great advantage over your colleagues. Especially if you’re fresh out of college (or high school) and are in an entry-level position.

These workplace productivity and communication tools are ubiquitous in nearly every workplace on the market today. Heck, Slack just IPO’d, Asana is valued at $1.5 billion, and many of these tools are being bought or copied by major companies. In short, they are staples of office life.

I realize that this is totally different than the dull and expected “teach your kid to code” advice. However, I actually think it would be a better time investment to teach your kid to properly communicate in the workplace.

Subscribers to the Harvard Business Review rated “the ability to communicate” as the most important factor in making an executive “promotable,” more important than ambition, education, and capacity for hard work.


Nobody can deny the connection between being a great communicator and being a successful professional. I don’t care whether you’re an event photographer, an actuary, or a pacemaker salesman. The best communicators will rise to the top.

Along with effective emailing, communicating through these tools have a steep learning curve and a distinct style that works best. Although communication is a primal, first-principle skill. The nuances change depending on the medium.

Good communication is the ability to say the most stuff in the fewest words. Great communicators treat words as the scarcest commodity.

Morgan Housel, Collaborative Fund