I’m always skeptical when I see headlines like “_____ is killing email” or “How _____ has made itself an indispensable business tool” or “_____ is going to eat your old office software alive.” But after I read the stories and gave the product a try, I was convinced: Slack is a must-have tool for any business team in 2015. And the cherry on top? It’s free!
The team at the Kestrel Co. has been using Slack for over a year now, and we’re in love. So, to show our gratitude, I wanted to share four reasons we love Slack (and think you will, too).
We know how difficult it can be to keep track of several big projects at once. For every one email exchanged between you and the client, there are five more passed back and forth among your coworkers. It can be a headache trying to keep everything straight.
“What was the subject line of that last email request from Client A? Did I forget to Reply All to that last team brainstorm message about Project B?”
Slack doesn’t just answer those questions – it eliminates them completely.
By organizing conversation in channels, you’ll always know where to find a message. We categorize our channels by client, but you can set yours up however you choose. Each channel serves as a de facto archive for all conversation around a topic, making it a breeze to find what you’re looking for.
Channels can also help you reduce distractions. If you don’t need to know every detail about a particular project or client, you can turn notifications off for that channel. By eliminating those intrusions and choosing only to read through the conversation when you have a free moment, you’ll be more apt to focus on the task at hand.
Channels also help you prioritize your attention by letting you know when YOU specifically have been mentioned in a conversation. If your coworkers have name-dropped you in a channel message, a red numerical indicator will appear next to that channel, letting you know to check it first.
Email can be great for one-on-one conversation, but it’s not so wonderful when it comes to collaboration and brainstorming.
By default, all channels are publicly visible to everyone in your Slack team. While some may initially bristle at the notion of all this transparency, I think it’s great. Here’s why: You never know where the next great idea will come from.
Say Mike and Tina are having a discussion about the next sales campaign for Super Special Client. Curious about the conversation, Tim heads over to the #superspecialclient channel. After reading through the archive, he has a brilliant idea and pitches it to Mike and Tina…and they love it! Not only does Tim look good, but the team as a whole is better off for his idea.
Would any of this have happened if Mike and Tina were emailing each other privately about this? Nope! Tim wouldn’t have been privy to their thoughts, and his brilliant idea would never have been born.
Channels aren’t the only way Slack helps document and archive conversations. It also has a powerful built-in search tool, allowing you to find any message or file with a few quick keystrokes.
Looking for all messages from a particular team member? Just use the from: modifier in the search box. Trying to find something in a particular channel? Put the in: modifier in front of your search term.
You can also search just for uploaded files, and you can further narrow your search by filtering by file type. As good as Gmail’s search capabilities are, I find Slack’s to be even more powerful.
Pro tip: Any text-based document (PDF, Word Doc, Google Doc) you upload to Slack will have every word archived and available for search. So, say you don’t remember the title of a file but you remember it contained the term “tablecloth.” Just search “tablecloth” in Slack and that document will appear in the search results. Pretty cool!
Not only is Slack a great organization and collaboration tool, it’s also downright fun to use. We all know every team functions better when its members enjoy coming to work, and Slack can play a big part in that.
Sure, there are channels for clients and projects, but Slack also includes two default channels: #general and #random. Both of these channels provide outlets for stray thoughts and ideas, links to interesting articles and videos, lunch invitations, office and company policy info, and other “water cooler” chatter.
These channels can be made even more enjoyable by the addition of the Giphy integration, which allows anyone to cue up a random animated GIF.
Just like any other channel, folks should be careful not to let the off-topic conversation become a distraction. But used in the right way, it can be a great outlet for discussion and a fun way to learn more about your coworkers.
The list above barely scratches the surface of all you can do with Slack. (Did I mention it’s free?) If you’re interested in learning more, I’d suggest checking out Getting started with Slack.
So, have you and your team tried Slack? Do you plan to after reading this? Let us know your thoughts, and holler if you have questions!