Is there a slack channel somewhere I don't know about? This has been the irc channel for the past few months:
There was discussion about maybe switching to Gitter to make it more accessible to people.
It was also discussed that chat rooms like Slack and IRC are productivity killers.
I know I'm an ass for saying this, but I think IRC's slight barrier to entry is a feature.
As far as productivity goes, I think they're fine as long as you keep it minimized and have all notifications turned off (both visual and sound).