Every day at work, you walk to your office and greet everybody a good morning. But it’s different for a team of remote workers. You say “hi” to your computer and go straight to work. That’s where Slack comes in the rescue.
Slack, short for Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge, is a communication and collaboration tool used in many offices since 2013. This is a boss-approved messaging app for business where employees can chat on work-related (or not) stuff. Read on to see if Slack is for your team.
FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS
Signing up to Slack is easy: you just have to input your company name, create your workspace’s URL name, use your business email address, and invite your workmates. Each user can modify their profile and set their availability, whether they’re already active, in a middle of a meeting, still commuting to work, on sick leave, or working remotely. This lets your colleagues understand your availability at the moment.
Slack allows users to use their messaging platform for free—forever! Advanced features are accessible for paid plans which are priced per active user.
Channels are made to create a team space for specific purposes. #general channel is accessible to all team members and is mostly used for work-related stuff. Announcements, events, updates about the company, and the likes are usually the common topic in this channel. There’s also a space for non-work related banters and faffing called #random channel where you can send files, funny GIFS, images, videos, and more.
You can create as many channels as you want but never forget to set its purpose. Each channel can be set to public or private. Public channels are searchable to all team members, while private channels are exclusive to invited employees for confidential discussions.
While chatting with colleagues, you can use slash-commands or shortcuts that will help you perform a task faster than clicking on every functioning icon. All team members can use commands. Workspace owners have the rights to limit the access for each user for specific commands.
One of the most interesting (and exciting!) features of Slack is its bots. You will encounter slackbot as the default bot to help you navigate the app. Given that it’s only a bot and claims to be not perfect, will answer your questions based on keywords scraped through your questions.
However, there’s a long list of third-party bots you can install based on your needs. For example it this to-do bot which allows you to assign a task to your employee. This will bring you to Workast where you can see the full details of all tasks assigned to each team member. Team members can mark it as complete once done and everyone can access a project’s status real time.
Check out this list of bots you can browse upon using Slack.
Like any other messaging platforms, Slack offers direct messaging feature. This permits an individual to talk to his colleague without bugging the whole team with pop up notifications. At the upper right are icons which can be used for calling (voice and video), and the settings where you can see your conversations and shared files. You can pin important assignments or urgent tasks so they will see it first thing upon signing in to your workspace.
More than that, you can use direct messaging for reminding someone of a meeting or other important events by using the /remind command.
As the most essential function of workspace messaging apps, Slack also caters file sharing option that can be done both through direct messaging and in channels. You can opt to get a file from your local desktop, or from any cloud storage you are currently using. Be it documents, images, videos, or reports, you can conveniently distribute copies seamlessly. All files are stored in your workspace and can be accessible even if already archived. Not to mention, tech teams can also share codes and text snippets through this function.
Slack has the tendency to spoil its users by making the app accessible to all possible platforms. Primarily, Slack can be used online by entering your workspace URL. Moreover, Slack desktop app can be downloaded for Windows, MAC, and Linux. Slack mobile app is downloadable to all android, IOS, and windows (beta) mobile devices.
Slack is powered by over 500 integrations for different types of teams and businesses. From bots, to customer support, to sales and project management tools, you can easily install each one in a matter of clicks. If you preferred software is not in the list, you can create your own integration which obviously needs an advanced skill.
- Assigning a purpose for each channel makes it clear for users which channels to join
- Wide-set integrations makes it appropriate for any kinds of businesses
- They have a Do Not Disturb status which, if turned on, does not let any notification appear in your account and literally dismiss all distractions
- Slack encourages engagement from all team members and can create a team of interactive and collaborative employees
- All contents and conversations are searchable in one search box which can promote transparency for the team
- They have a forever-free plan for teams and companies that need a platform for fun and interactive online workspace
- Slack is accessible through the cloud, desktops apps, as well as mobile apps
- Rich integrations add to its usability
- Screen sharing is only available for paid plans
- Public channels can be prone to hacking and other security issues
- There can be a Fear of Missing Out for team members who can’t engage “at the moment” because Slack usually involves and requires real-time conversations
- Since almost everything can be done in Slack, this can also be a distraction for some workers
- Having too many channels can be confusing and catching up can be time-confusing if messaging is not well-managed
- Slack’s paid plans are priced per user and can be a disadvantage for growing teams
Slack can be used for free forever. However, they also offer paid plans that are priced per active users.
Slack also provides a unique rate for companies that would opt for a more customised design for company-wide usage.
WHO IS IT FOR
While many existing users believe that it is killing the power of Emails, Slack can be the best buddy for startups and small companies that can be productive enough through the features that it caters with its free version. A community manager should know and define the right integrations and purpose of using Slak for their business for it to be a great add-on to their company’s collaboration and communication tools.
Slack, being an all-in-one messaging platform for real-time communication, is appropriate for all kinds of businesses. While office based-work prefers face-to-face communication, Slack is usually preferred by companies with remote workers and team members working from different locations. Its convenience and accessibility make it a favourite of many companies like Cloud Staff Member—an Australian owned company hiring professionals from the Philippines—who want to create a team of engaged employees whilst distant to each other.