Slack became the team messaging system of this decade, probably because it’s the best such system yet devised. I’m on half a dozen Slack groups, ranging from local community associations to a group set up to give me and my work colleagues a way to communicate more efficiently. Yes, it’s true – Slack means more messages popping up on your mobile phone. But when I think of the disparate set of communications it replaces (texts, WhatsApp messages, and most significantly, emails), its benefits speak for themselves. Even better, for small scale, non-critical uses, it’s still free.
If you have a small department at work which doesn’t have an efficient single way of discussing issues, you should take a look at Slack. If you’re tired of email chains, and having to look at who’s CC’d on the emails, you definitely need Slack. If you’ve got colleagues who respond to one type of message but not another, a single unified Slack-based system could be the answer.
I won’t try to give you a set-up course here, as plenty of people have already written great introductory articles – try this or this. I will however list a few things I’ve done on Slack in the last 24 hours, to demonstrate its versatlity:
- Had notifications on my desktop of posts in important communities
- Posted my own comments and contributions to conversations
- Informed colleagues of events
- Visited a community where I don’t get push notifications, to look at any updates
- Had direct (private) messages from colleagues
- Sent PDF documents for discussion
- Posted web links of general interest for possible discussion
- Set reminders (it’s a good personal to-do application)
- Read third-party newsfeeds (one community monitors sites through RSS)
- Shared Google Drive documents
- Video-called a colleague
- Received notifications of sent MailChimp campaigns
- Received updates from Google Analytics
- Read selected Tweets
And I will readily admit, many organisations’ Slack communities are far more sophisticated than the ones I’m involved with. What’s more, I’ve done all of the above on my office computer, my smartphone and my iPad at home. Everything synchronises instantly, and you quickly become used to not even thinking about the device you’re using, which is as it should be.
If you’re unsure whether Slack would work in your organisation, there’s plenty of stuff online from places where it didn’t work. Those reports are well worth searching out. However, I’ve found it works very well in groups of 3 to 10 people, or larger groups where people are happy to just ‘subscribe’ to relevant subject ‘channels’. It’s even liked by those folks who aren’t enthusiastic about joining in online discussions (the “if I’ve got something to say, I email it to a huge CC list” kind).