Are you trying to figure out how to use Slack?
Good. It is totally worth it.
Boasting Over 10 million active users per daySlack’s popularity speaks for itself. In fact, the platform is an important part of remote work today as more teams rely on Slack as an all-in-one communication hub.
And while Slack seems like a chat app at first glance, the platform offers a whole range of time-saving features to keep teams productive and engaged.
This guide shows you how to use Slack for Business.
What is Slack anyway?
Let’s start with the basics.
Slack is a team collaboration and project management tool. The platform can be used in the browser or as a separate native app on desktop and mobile.
Users communicate in channels that are identified by specific hashtags. For example, a marketing team can have separate channels for # content writer, #SEO, and #Design.
Within each channel, users can tag each other based on their @handles. Then the fun begins.
When it comes to using Slack to communicate, your options are almost limitless. For example, Slack is a great alternative to email or project tickets. Moving such messages forward creates a sense of accountability and transparency as teams can track their communications from point A to point B until an issue is resolved.
Slack can also be used for informal communication. Celebrating a new contract or birthday? Would you like to delete some memes or .GIFs? Do it.
Users can change their availability status throughout the day to signal colleagues when they can’t speak or when they are doing in-depth work.
In short, Slack is a place where employees are always “on”. This offers a more timely alternative to exclusive communication via email and at the same time recreates the old-school office water cooler.
Why is Slack so popular with remote teams?
Slack doesn’t seem that special at first glance.
Finally, there are plenty of chat apps (think Teams, Google Meet) that serve a similar purpose.
Slack’s popularity can be attributed to its widespread use by startups and the influx of millions of new users during COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, companies used a handful of apps by default to adapt to the newly discovered “normality” of remote work.
And for team chat, Slack was the winner. The app saw a surge in new users in the middle of COVID-19, and many have since decided to stick with the platform for the long term.
Perhaps Slack’s biggest selling point is its third-party integrations. If there is a business app or tool that you rely on, there is a high chance that there is a Slack integration.
Trello. Google Drive. Outlook. You name it, Slack integrates with it.
Another important difference between Slack and other chat apps is the multitude of bots on the platform, many of which focus on productivity and improving company culture. For example, the popular donut bot was designed to streamline the onboarding of new employees and help employees build relationships in a remote environment.
A big goal when using a platform like Slack is to completely replace email (or at least reduce teams’ reliance on email).
But why use Slack instead of email? Time.
It is well documented that many employees waste hours a day in their inboxes. The platform reduces unnecessary back and forth and consolidates email notifications into a real-time inbox alongside your team chat. For example, you can schedule and share a Zoom meeting ID right in Slack without switching between inbox links and invitations.
How do most remote businesses use Slack?
No two teams use Slack the same, but the end goal is the same: give teams a place to stay connected without wasting time in their inboxes or juggling a bunch of apps.
Below are three specific goals for remote businesses trying to figure out how to use Slack:
- Optimize tasks and document internal communication between employees
- Promotion of timely, open communication and a collaborative corporate culture
- Keep your employees productive with apps and integrations
The platform is a great place for teams to come up with ideas and keep track of the status of a particular project. For example, remote creative teams can ask for feedback or finalize a piece of content. Here’s an example of using Slack for Project Management (with Trello) to do just that:
Increasing employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges in managing a remote team. Slack can help in this department thanks to its wide variety of engagement bots and survey tools for selecting workers’ brains.
Here is an example with Polly providing an anonymous place for employees to provide feedback and answer questions from managers.
Again, Slack’s goal is to make sure employees stay productive. This is another challenge for remote teams, where employees are independent and keeping track of individual tasks can be problematic.
Here is an example of how a time tracking tool like Timebot.chat, which employees can use to keep track of their daily tasks, blocks time and highlights what they have been working on.
This is just a snapshot of using Slack as a remote team. Your preferred apps and workflows might be different, but you can still use the platform.
Using Slack: Tips and Best Practices
While Slack itself is fairly intuitive, using the platform to its fullest means understanding best practices. Here are some quick tips to make sure your team is making good use of Slack.
Choose your channels
Your company’s slack shouldn’t be free to all random channels. Instead, limit your discussions to channels based on your company’s goals for the platform.
For example, does each team have a place to go back and forth? Is there a place where a company-wide concern can be raised? Do you want to limit memes and funny deals to a single channel?
There is no “right” way to set up your Slack channels. Of course, that freedom can be a bit daunting. Here are a few examples to get you started recommended channels featured by Slack itself.
- # Announcements
- # Random
- #AMA (ask me something)
- #Corporate culture
- #Suggestion box
Outline the expectations
Similar to social media, some critics view Slack as a potential time sink for employees that can actually result in decreased productivity.
In addition, the phenomenon of “sleep fatigue” and stress from intrusive users on the platform can contribute to burnout in the workplace.
It’s important to highlight expectations for your team’s use of Slack. This can avoid wasting time and also ensure that discussions are meaningful and productive.
In short, teams shouldn’t just think of it as a place to chat. We recommend Slack’s own guide too Onboarding your company to make sure your team is on the right track from the start.
Take full advantage of integrations
If you are with Slack for BusinessYou are spoiled for choice in terms of the integrations to use. This contains:
- Project management tools (Trello, Asana, Jira)
- Video conferencing tools (Zoom, RingCentral)
- Calendar apps (Google Calendar, Outlook)
- Collaboration software (Google Drive, Box)
- Employee loyalty tools (OfficeVibe, TINYpulse)
For example, check out Slack G-Suite for Slack. With a single integration you can manage your meetings …
… and upload files to share with the rest of your team.
But again, the goal of Slack is to save time. It might be tempting to pack as many apps and integrations into the platform as possible, but try to stick to the ones you use the most first.
That might sound cheesy, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Your coworkers shouldn’t be afraid of opening a particular Slack channel. Whether it is feedback or inquiries, emphasize the importance of keeping communication positive and constructive.
There is no doubt that being connected to your team 24/7 can be potentially stressful. To combat this, encourage your team members to pay attention to their tone and don’t be afraid to make their personalities shine either. Slack is a brilliant team building and collaboration tool where teams understand how to use it.
And with that we conclude our guide on using Slack!
Ready for Slack?
While the concept of learning a new platform can be a headache, getting started with Slack is easier than you might think.
No matter what type of business you’re running, Slack can bring your team closer together while supporting your larger business goals. We recommend it to almost anyone looking to get more work done, especially social marketers.
And just as you find out how to use Slack effectively to keep your team productive, keep in mind that Sprout Social can help you do the same.