Working on Slack

How Slack can help increase productivity and improve communication

There are many ways we can connect in the workplace. Slack is just one, so is it up to the job?

In business, most mistakes arise as a result of poor internal communication. A breakdown in communication can result in misunderstandings and therefore cause issues and put a business into a difficult position. 

Fortunately, a tool can assist with this. Albeit it may not completely obliterate a breakdown in communication, but it can certainly help prevent this from happening and keep track of conversations in a working environment.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw.

If you don’t know already, Slack is a tool designed to make you ‘be less busy’. It consists of instant messaging channels for topics related to your business activities, where you can add team members who are involved in that project and communicate.

The software also allows you to directly message those in your team and have private chats with multiple members too. In layman’s terms, picture Slack as the ‘MSN Messenger for business’, but with a whole range of different functionalities, and a much cleaner and minimal interface (and without the irritating knock knock nudges).

My first experience of using Slack was back in February 2015 when working with Jungle magazine. I wasn’t overly convinced at first, but the more I used it, the more I realised it was about to change the whole way we operated and communicated. And no, Slack are not paying me to write this article! It really is a game-changing piece of software that will increase your productivity and communication. NASA use it…

“I’ve seen it positively transform the internal communications for two very different businesses”

In the case of Jungle I strongly believe that, without the use of Slack, they would be in a very different place to where they are now, and certainly wouldn’t have been able to communicate collectively with one another as productively as they have done.

The reason for this is down to the ease of communication and access through the mobile app. It means we can all get in contact wherever we are based and stay updated on progress. As I was living in Liverpool and the majority of the team are based in London, Slack’s vital when it comes to communication with the team as well as regular meetings to keep up to date with everything going on in the business.

I see Slack as a kind of digital office world. It as a base for help and support, as well as an aid in organising tasks effectively and making decisions. Slack are currently adding mobile calls to the app too, which is also a beneficial touch we are looking forward to using more.

Slack state their users see a 48.8% reduction in email usage

When I arrived at Webrevolve 6 months ago the team were using emails and Gmail to communicate. Introducing Slack has allowed the team to communicate faster, share files with ease and also integrate Jira (a project management software from Atlassian). As well as this we also have separate feeds for our developers, design team and SEO team so all communications are separate for each area of the business, meaning there isn’t an overflow of information shared with those who don’t need it.

We have channels for clients which helps keep track of any updates in relation to them and we also have the option to share information with the entire team where the three areas of our operations meet (and possibly suggest a game of Fifa at the end of the day).

So why should you change the way you already work and bring Slack into the workplace?

It’s instant messaging, which speeds up the processes of communication, rather than waiting for an email response from a member of the team. Compared to emails, it allows you to communicate with more people at once on a message board too which is extremely beneficial.

You can also send files and set reminders for yourself and other members of the team so it’s great for managing personal tasks and being more productive (e.g Wunderlist is an option you can integrate to keep track of your task list). There are hundreds of different apps you can integrate into Slack so there is certainly something here for every business. 

The downside

You may talk less. Sadly having Slack means people are less likely to talk to one another as it’s easier to ‘Slack it’. But it also keeps everything in one place which can be backtracked and accessed in the future, therefore making it easier to record the communication that has taken place. Providing you have the Standard or Plus packages, as the Free version deletes your oldest messages after you reach 10,000 messages.

My advice

If you are a small business don’t hesitate to get Slack. What I find extremely useful is the app, so you can use it when you are out and keep up to date on everything out of the office, that’s if you even have an office – which in this case it is a vital asset to acquire. It also does have a snooze button which is useful at times but I tend to not use this so I keep on top of things. If you are a large business with around 100-200 staff I still believe Slack could be a good tool to have, although I have not seen it in action on this scale.

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