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Did you knowÂ Tamar Yehoshua, Slackâs Chief Product Officer, is speaking atÂ TNW2020Â this year? Check out their session on âHuman-centricity: building products with customersâÂ here.
It will come as a surprise to no one that weâre pretty heavy users of Slack here at Slack.Â VeryÂ heavy users, in fact. Every day, we use Slack to connect offices across the globe, from New York to Munich to Pune to Tokyo. Our own product is at the heart of how we run the business.
At this time, like everyone else, weâre thinking about the health of our employees and their families and communities, and how that changes how we work together to help reduce the spread of infection. Like many companies, we currently have teammates working remotely who would ordinarily be in an office together. Weâre also often asked how we use Slack at Slack, so this seems like a good opportunity to share what weâve learnt about how remote work shifts the way we use our product.
Here is a bundle of Slack habits and tricks â most of them small and easy to adopt â that are making teamwork work for our newly remote teammates. And if youâre looking for even more information about remote work in Slack beyond these tips, youâll find a full set of tips, articles and stories in ourÂ resource library.
Shifting to remote work can disrupt how organizations operate. Weâre here to help. At the bottom of this post, youâll find information aboutÂ webinarsÂ andÂ one-on-one consultationsÂ to help you to navigate your own transition to a remote workforce.
Every office at Slack has anÂ announcements channelÂ â a channel thatâs set to read-only for most employees, but which admins, office managers and internal communications can use to post important information. At times like this, these channels become both vital and mandatory; information shifts away from whatâs on the shared lunch menu and towards updates about office closures, advisories on travel and services and links to support what we have in place for our employees, plus their extended families and communities.
We already heavily useÂ custom statusesÂ (and associated emoji) at Slack HQ, to let people know at a glance if weâre on holiday, in transit, in meetings, or, say, working remotely. When everyone is working remotely, of course, that last one becomes moot, and the way that we use the status shifts. Our co-workers can no longer see when weâre away from our desks, so we set a custom status to let everyone know that weâve stepped away, or that weâre offline or on calls and may be slow to respond. Bonus: you can set these up to automatically expire â âat lunchâ, for example, is one that youâd probably want to disappear after an hour.
Moving meetings to channels is not only a good practice for remote work, itâs also a great way to discover which meetings you might be able to eliminate altogether. For a weekly status meeting, we set a specific time of day by which everyone should post their status in a channel for that project. Questions can follow in thread (if theyâre just for that person) or in channel (if theyâre for everyone/most people). Everyone can read up on what everyone else is working on, and to top it all off, we get automatic meeting minutes.
Direct messagesÂ also play an important role. We do most of our work in channels at Slack, but in person, weâll often swivel our chairs around to say, âHey, can you quickly look at this?â When we canât work through a problem in real life, weâll send each other our unfinished work in a direct message to get feedback and ideas (we did a lot of this while writing this blog post in fact). We do a lot of work in Google Docs, and Slack makes it easy for us to share works in progress: we just paste the link into Slack, which will then prompt us to adjust viewing permissions if the document isnât one that they have permissions to see.
Whiteboardingâ¦ with a permanent marker: a terrible idea in real life, but perfect when weâre remote. And using paper. Because for the inveterate visual thinker, it can be a difficult habit to break when working out of the office. We sketch out ideas on a piece of paper, then take a photo with our phones and upload it straight to a channel in Slack from there to keep conversation flowing. Over time, weâve found that making slides to communicate an idea visually can take too much time â all that fiddling with font sizes, box widths and arrow alignments â and when we just need to get an idea across, pen and paper (and camera) do the job.
Communicating in writing can be difficult, particularly in more delicate or nuanced situations. Sometimes you just need to see each otherâs faces and talk out loud. For a quick call, you can use Slackâs built-in voice and video calling feature. Weâve also integrated many of the popular voice and video services â you can set them as the default service to use when clicking the Call icon in Slack. Weâre big users of Zoom for larger meetings and rely heavily on the /zoom command to create ad hoc meetings, but youâll find similar functionality for the other integrated providers as well.
When we canât travel to meet in the same place, we still work together in Slack. A shared channel is exactly what it sounds like â itâs a channel that exists in both our workspace and in theirs, letting us use Slack to communicate across company boundaries. Weâre using shared channels heavily right now to keep things moving with partners, customers and vendors in light of our cancelled travel plans.
When we canât say âthank youâ, âgood jobâ or ânice workâ in person, weâll use an emoji reaction to do it instead. Shortly after we publish this blog post, one of us will post a message in a channel to let the company know that itâs up. It will be showered with an outpouring of :tada:, :100: and a number of other congratulatory custom emoji â party parrot might make an appearance here. Everyone loves feeling recognized! An emoji reaction, or âreacjiâ, a word that we keep insisting is real, is a quick and tidy way to communicate with your teammates.
Again, youâll find more tips and suggestions on theÂ Slack for Remote WorkÂ page in our resource library. Some are small and easily implemented, like the ones above. Others are meatier, geared towards helping you think about the foundations youâ need for a distributed workforce. If you have an important remote work tip or strategy that we didnât cover here, weâd love to hear about it â please get in touch with us at [email protected]
Published September 14, 2020 — 12:59 UTC
September 14, 2020 — 12:59 UTC
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