Slack is a group messaging application that is quickly becoming a go-to tool for business communication. More and more organizations are beginning to replace internal email with this new app.
Both Marathon and our sister company Stack Advisors have recently moved to Slack as the central platform for internal communication. Some of the other companies that have made the switch include Comcast, Airbnb, Buzzfeed and The New York Times. The main thing Slack accomplishes for our team is getting almost all of our internal communications into one organized and searchable place.
Getting started in Slack can feel a bit like “romper room” if you currently have a more formal email culture. Don’t let this scare you. Everyone will figure it out in about a week, and things will calm down. Checking in with your team on a regular schedule as you get started and asking for feedback is also a smart move. We’ve reorganized our channels a few times as our team has become more adept at how to best use the app.
Here are some other things we’ve learned as we’ve moved to using Slack full-time:
Channels are key. They allow you to focus on the information that is important to you. The first thing you will do when implementing Slack is to create channels to categorize where messages are published. Channel organization is pretty important, so it’s worth taking some time to think through a naming plan that makes sense for your team. Also, devote some time to making clear which channels are mandatory and which ones users can choose to follow.
The single search box really works. Older email users will remember having to sort different emails into folders. Slack solves this by doing away with the folders concept. All of your messages get archived and you can easily search for something when you need it.
File sharing is easy. You can drag and drop a wide range of file types directly into conversations and then the attachments are archived and become searchable. You’ll never need to hunt down that lost email with an important attachment again.
Make it part of daily work life. A big key to successful adoption is getting your company leadership to start using Slack right away. This will reinforce that everyone in the organization is moving away from email as their primary tool for daily communication.
Customize your experience with notifications, muting, etc. One of the problems with email is the need to sort email each day to find your important messages. Slack allows you to personalize the level of involvement you’d like to have in different channels. You can set it to notify you when anything new is posted to a channel, when your name is mentioned, a certain keyword comes up, and more. This eliminates the time you used to have to spend sorting unimportant or email CCs from the messages that really need your attention.
The Slack mobile app is outstanding. The mobile app for Slack works great and was a key selling point for our team. We have a number of engineers out of the office doing on-site visits each day, and it’s easy for them to stay on top of things from their phones. You can customize your notifications to get what you need without being overwhelmed with other notices.
Organize private groups to work on smaller projects. It’s very easy to set up private groups with a few colleagues to work on a side project or continue an “offline” discussion from a meeting in Slack.
There are tons of outside app integrations. Another way Slack will become the center of your team’s communication is with all of the simple integrations that are available with other tools like Dropbox, GitHub and MailChimp.
We found the best way to get started is by rolling Slack out with a smaller group to start. Take a look at your team and find 6-10 users to be the pioneers. Let them try it out and become the Slack leads for your organization. They will be able to give insight on how they would best use channels and which integrations should be there to start.
How much does it cost? You can get started on Slack for free. Moving to a month-to-month plan starts at $8 per month for each user and gives you access to some features not available in the free version.
If you’re ready to try Slack, you can get a $100 credit when you move to a paid plan by signing up here.