One of the many software programs we use here at inoutput, to keep communications transparent and projects on the move, is Slack. So, what is Slack?
Slack is a cloud-based messaging program that allows teams to collaborate and communicate.
You simply download it, as you would any other software program, create an account and you can easily get started on creating ‘chat channels’ that will link you to conversations with your coworkers.
The messaging program can be used to communicate with individual people directly, as well as within a group where there are several people tuning in to the same conversation.
At inoutput, we use Slack just as we would a regular email system, but it’s quicker and less formal. Staff announcements, kitten memes, and checking data on work projects are all ways we use Slack every day in our business.
And here’s a fun fact about Slack – the word is actually an acronym of “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”.
The reason we love Slack is that, unlike some of the other instant messaging software programs, it’s easy to create ‘channels’. You can create groups that are public or private, which is handy if the data we’re sharing about a project is confidential.
Public channels mean anyone can check in and find out that Billy Bob just got a promotion or that Jenna has just found the most hilarious dog riding a skateboard GIF, that sort of thing. You can also send direct private messages, attach files, PDFs, pictures etc, and if someone can’t remember where they attached something, they can simply type the topic into the search bar and it will bring up the history.
The chat channels can also be labelled by topic so that specific conversations can be grouped by context. We have a few different ones including a ‘scrum’ office chat for day-to-day housekeeping, a ‘sales’ channel to discuss ideas for current and future leads and sales activities, and a ‘random’ channel for those inevitable Friday memes and non-work-related banter.
We find Slack is a quicker and easier alternative to regular email for communicating amongst the team. We also like how easy it is to start a conversation on the desktop and continue on a mobile device if we need to nip out of the office for a coffee or meeting.
We also find Slack can be more efficient than email. Rather than lose the time involved to write emails, we find Slack keeps our inbox folders down to just the important client engagement stuff, and also keeps the vibe amongst the team open and less formal. It’s also a much quicker way to communicate among the team.
Integration is what sets Slack apart because it allows you to centralise all of your notifications in one program. As such, it encourages your team to communicate, collaborate and take action.
The other advantage Slack has is that you can integrate it with your other software, social media channels and plugins. At inoutput, we make use of a few integrations that connect to Slack to truly keep it as our central point of communication. For instance, when one of our developers ‘commits to code’, it sends a notification to a channel in Slack to let us know. This way, we can keep track of where certain projects are at in real-time.
We’ve also set up data cards that share information about our social media accounts and website visits to a Slack channel. One example is our social media activity, where graphs and visual data of our social media activity is automatically sent to our ‘marketing channel’ each week. It gives us a snapshot of our social media activity, including new likes and followers, without having to log in to any social media accounts.
We also make use of the reminder feature, which pings an automated reminder note to yourself, individual team members or to selected Slack channels. These reminders inform us about upcoming client meetings or prompt us to clean our desks the night before the cleaners visit. These reminder notifications can also be used for other, more trivial purposes like: ‘remind me that I’m fierce like Beyonce at 9am every Friday’ or ‘remind me to drink a glass of water at 10.30am and 3pm everyday’. This function is particularly useful on those super busy days, or for when we’re feeling a little forgetful.
At first glance, Slack may seem like just another instant messaging program but it is so much more than that.
In fact, the team at inoutput love Slack so much that it has become part of our day-to-day messaging habits. Not just reserved for the office, our team uses Slack on the go, during the commute on the train or tram to work and even on weekends. Put simply, it has become our preferred communication medium.
As such, Slack has had a profound impact on our company culture and continues to contribute to our workplace in a positive way. Sure, it’s been great for communicating important work-related information about projects but it has been equally beneficial from a social point of view.
It’s a great hub for us to share those in-jokes that started in the office when we’re out and about. It means that we can convey our thoughts, banter and anecdotes in real-time, instead of waiting to share the joke when we’re all back in the office the next day or on Monday morning (or, worse, forgetting altogether!)
Slack has also made work more fun. Each member of inoutput has created a personalised emoji within Slack to represent themselves in an electronic format. We’ve also set up some automated ‘slackbot’ responses to overused phrases or words that hold subtext only we would understand. For example, anytime someone uses the word ‘exactly’ within Slack, the slackbot will respond with ‘egg sack Leigh’. Don’t worry, everyone in-house gets it!
As a software program, Slack is one of our top daily go-tos in the inoutput office. It has transformed the way we communicate as a team and has had an incredibly positive impact on staff morale. We highly recommend Slack, especially if you’re a small to medium sized business.
Posted by Mat Hollingsworth
Thu, 03 Nov 2016
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