Quick Studies

Four Rules Slack Follows When Using Slack

How does the company who invented one of the most ubiquitous team messaging platforms in the world use its own tool?

Communication is essential to solving problems at work, but when email inboxes are overflowing and calendars are booked, teams are struggling to find better alternatives. One popular solution is Slack, which serves as a platform for internal communication, file sharing, and sometimes as a substitute for meetings. There is no shortage of Slack solutions, but Slack HQ has created the following communication habits and rituals:

  1. Communicate in the open. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield resists the urge to DM team members. “We encourage conversations to happen in the most public venue they can,” says Butterfield. Conversations in public channels increase visibility into decisions and offer more opportunities for teams to provide input.
  2. Add a tool to each channel. “One of the most frequently requested things is for us is to add a task management feature to Slack directly,” says Butterfield. Teams can choose from 800,000 integrations, but the top five Slack team integrations include Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Github, Twitter, and Trello.
  3. Onboard with messages. Butterfield encourages new employees to read the past two weeks of Slack messages as part of the onboarding process. Archived messages help new team members catch up on decisions made and get a sense for the team’s rhythm.
  4. Give your team space. Butterfield doesn’t want to overwork his employees or ask them to be on call 24/7. Both iOS and Android have “do not disturb” features that you can use to ensure that Slack doesn’t interrupt sleep or down time.

The goal of Slack is not to drown team in pings, notifications, and messages. Making the most of Slack channels can help teams collaborate and communicate, and finally kick duplicated work to the curb. In the spirit of small and frequent communication, teams can move from missing deadlines to shipping work weekly.

Published February 21, 2019

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