Business platform Slack - The most important points in brief:
Employees who work from home for a few days a week or even entirely have become the norm in many offices since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this can become a problem when a lot of teamwork is involved in your company. Fortunately, there are tools that ensure smooth collaboration even beyond the boundaries of the physical office. The most popular one is “Slack.”
Slack stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.” Slack is a web-based instant messaging service where you can have chats with individuals or groups. These individuals can be part of the company or external partners. The chats are searchable at any time, so content can be quickly retrieved. Thanks to versatile extensions, Slack can be used for much more than just chatting. Users can collaborate on documents, create surveys, make video calls, and more. The core purpose of the tool is communication within workgroups.
Slack is a service provided by the U.S. company Slack Technologies, launched in 2013. In 2021, Slack was sold to the software company Salesforce for approximately $28 billion.
In principle, Slack can be used by anyone who registers for it. However, the primary target audience for Slack is companies or small groups. Slack is especially suitable when rapid internal team communication is necessary and when employees need to work together from different locations. In short, Slack is suitable for anyone seeking an efficient way to connect teams and promote collaboration.
There is a free version of Slack, but it only provides access to chat history for the past 90 days. Otherwise, there are three different “plans” or paid versions of Slack: “Pro,” “Business+,” and “Enterprise Grid.” The Pro version costs €6.75 per person per month, while Business+ costs €11.75 per person per month. The prices for Enterprise Grid, which is designed for very large companies, vary depending on the company’s size and must be requested individually from Slack. You can find an overview of the various contents and features included in the packages here.
The use of Slack offers various advantages for businesses, of which only the most essential ones can be listed here.
Slack can be easily used through a web browser. Additionally, you can use it through the app on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Using the app is recommended.
Slack provides the option to invite external participants to individual chats and channels. This makes it a suitable tool for collaboration with suppliers, service providers, freelance workers, and customers as well.
Having a quick discussion with colleagues in the office kitchen about a challenging topic may be nice, but afterward, no one can refer back to what was said. Chats and Channels in Slack, on the other hand, are saved and can be searched at any time. What did the colleague say again, what were the customer’s change requests? In Slack, you simply need to revisit the chat or channel where the discussion took place. Even if the topic is from a long time ago, you can easily find it again thanks to the search function.
Where is your colleague whom you want to talk to right now? You’ve already searched half the office but couldn’t find him. Is he perhaps on a cigarette break? Oh no, he is on vacation! With Slack, you no longer need to search extensively for your colleagues. Everyone can set their status in Slack. This not only shows you if your colleagues are online but also where they are located, whether in the office, working from home, in a meeting, or even on vacation. Using free text, they can also specify how long their vacation will last, so everyone knows how long they might have to wait for a response or if it’s better to reach out to another colleague. They can also indicate who will cover for them during their vacation or illness.
Even though your employees can discuss the same content in Slack as they would in a face-to-face conversation in the office, Slack is not a 100% replacement for direct interaction among colleagues. When your employees only have contact through Slack, the interpersonal aspect cannot develop or may be lost. This means that there is little opportunity for a personal connection between team members. If, for example, due to significant geographical distances between work locations, it’s not possible for your employees to occasionally meet in the office, you should at least ensure that regular video calls take place so that colleagues can get to know the person behind the chat.
Since Slack is not a European company, there could be concerns regarding data privacy. While the company claims to adhere to the data protection regulations in the European Union (EU), unfortunately, not 100 percent of the data is stored in the EU. Slack does have data centers in the EU where a significant portion of the data is stored, but not all of it. According to their own statements, Slack hosts its services using “Amazon Web Services” (AWS), and the default location is AWS in the USA. This means that data such as member profiles or information about memberships in workspaces and channels could also be stored in the USA.
To learn how to use Slack in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in your company, you can read more here.
A Slack Huddle is a virtual meeting of multiple participants where they can exchange ideas. In essence, it is a video call that can accommodate several people. A moderator can be designated for each Huddle, who then leads the discussion and ensures that all important topics are addressed.
Slack Bot is a chatbot that, based on artificial intelligence, can send messages to channels, groups, or individual people under specific predefined conditions. Slack Bot can send reminders, such as for deadlines, appointments, and the like. Of course, Slack Bot can also answer questions, for instance, through the “custom responses” feature. This allows you to set responses for frequently asked questions, like the inquiry about the Wi-Fi password.
A Slack workspace consists of multiple channels where team members communicate and collaborate with each other. For example, your company could have a workspace for your HR team, within which several channels are grouped. These channels could, in turn, address topics such as “current job openings,” “employee events,” or “orientation for new hires.”
As mentioned earlier, the selection of apps that can be integrated into Slack is extensive and, unfortunately, can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, we have compiled here some of the most popular apps that can enhance your employees’ Slack experience.
With Polly, you can create surveys in various channels or chats. You can ask one or more questions and provide multiple answer options to choose from. Depending on the settings, you can also allow multiple responses. In addition to various presets, such as scheduling surveys, you can create custom surveys with different question types, such as multiple choice. You can also configure each survey to allow comments and let participants add their own choices.
Slack’s BirthdayBot automatically reminds team members of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. It can also send congratulatory messages automatically, which is very useful when you have many employees and would otherwise lose track of the many birthdays and such.
A more fun extension is More Moji. This app adds a touch of fun to work by significantly expanding the emoji options available in Slack.
Giphy is likely familiar to most users from other applications like Canva. Through Giphy’s integration with Slack, your employees can access the world’s largest GIF collection. This can make, for example, holiday greetings a bit more cheerful.
With Lucidspark, your employees can collaboratively brainstorm and develop ideas using digital whiteboards. Numerous integrated templates can be used, or you can create entirely custom whiteboards.
Google Drive is the ideal tool for sharing files through Slack. With the integration into Slack, you can create, edit, and comment on files directly within Slack.
Trello is a popular project planning tool based on the Kanban method. Through integration with Slack, you can create Trello cards directly from Slack or view existing Trello cards. You can even have dedicated Trello channels.
Asana is one of the most popular and well-known work management tools. It facilitates the efficient organization of all work processes within your teams. Through integration with Slack, conversations can be converted directly into tasks and projects in Asana. Notifications can also be sent to users when a new Asana project is created.
Video calls have the drawback of requiring a mutually available time slot. With Loom, you can send video messages to your colleagues without the need for them to be online at the same time. Sending screen recordings is also possible. For example, you can create instructional videos for new colleagues that they can watch repeatedly. Via Slack, these videos can be sent and created directly through direct messages (DMs).
Slack is undoubtedly a powerful collaboration tool that helps companies connect teams and foster collaboration. The effectiveness of Slack largely depends on its usage and adaptation to the specific needs of your company. Ensure that your employees have access to the most essential applications for their work, create appropriate workspaces and channels, and make sure everyone adheres to your company’s communication guidelines. In this way, Slack can function as a virtual office for your company. However, it’s crucial to also ensure that your employees meet in the physical office or at least during employee events or in video calls to strengthen individual teams and promote interpersonal relationships among colleagues.