At the beginning of the year we here at the Tomorrow Lab brought a new program into the office called Slack.
Upon first use I didn’t see what the big deal was, brushing it off as just another chat-room type program. However, over the following months it would become an integral part of our team which is used daily and always opened on our computers.
Slack was clearly designed with office/teamwork in mind from the forefront. It has many great features that we have found and continue to discover and implement into our workflow.
Slack has vastly reduced the amount of internal emails we send
Internal emails within the team are a rarity now, with everyone choosing to communicate via Slack instead. It just makes more sense to communicate in an easy to read conversation view; especially when the alternative is *shudder* Outlook.
Conversations are split into clear groups which are easy to navigate. For example, we have ‘channels’ set-up for individual projects, along with Direct Message channels which only those involved can see. People can easily be invited into a new channel, and they will be able to see all previous conversations. This is very handy to get someone up to speed on what has been going on.
Slack makes it simple to share code
Another advantage Slack has over email is that it makes code sharing easy. There is a simple command to share code that when used will retain all syntax and colours of the language itself. This is great for avoiding confusion and overall makes things easier to read. Slack also integrates with a massive amount of services, so adding Github notifications as a channel of it’s own is easy to do.
Slackbot is handy for notes and easily searchable
Slackbot serves as your introduction when first opening Slack. Instead of going through an initial set-up you can just reply to a few questions Slackbot asks.
Slackbot also acts as your private notepad, allowing you to paste images, code or notes to your own channel with it. This will keep all your important notes in one centralised and easily searchable place (search also works great on all other channels) available on all your devices and on other networks.
It can also be used as an auto-responder; i.e. when certain words or phrases are added in a channel, Slackbot will respond with whatever response you like. These have provided a few good laughs in the office when people have unexpectedly created new responses along with custom smileys (hate the word ’emoji’), and could also be useful for automatically serving up links or other information when needed. You can also quickly create reminders for yourself, and Slackbot will message you at the time you have chosen.
We’ve also set-up Slackbot to automatically let certain team members know when tickets are opened on Freshdesk (our customer service system). This once again reduces the number of programs and websites we need open at all times.
Keep track of team activity
As it is so simple to communicate and mention others in Slack, it is useful to enable the sidebar to keep track of all team activity. This will keep track of all your mentions and allow you to jump straight to them, along with uploaded files and general activity.
Slack has well and truly became a part of our daily workflow in the office, and for good reason. It helps avoid interruptions during those key moments of development, and has streamlined the communication process significantly.
Download or find out more information about Slack here.