5 Reasons You Should Use Slack for Your Small or Large Business
As a tech geek who started my professional career just as electronic communication was becoming the standard, I love email. When I started out, it was incredible that we could even communicate electronically and we were all hooked on how instantaneous it was. Quite simply, email revolutionized the way we communicated in business, making it possible to get things done efficiently while keeping all relevant parties in the know no matter where each person was located. As we slowly did away with other types of communication in favour of email, we all began to be overwhelmed but the sheer volume coming through our inbox daily. As the CEO of a small business, it wasn’t unusual for me to receive upwards of 300 emails per day. My inbox became an unruly place where I would triage things according to importance, leaving many emails unread. Many of my staff weren’t fairing any better either.
A few years ago, we decided to try Slack. If you’re not familiar with Slack, it’s a messaging platform for teams, designed to streamline communication and promote productivity. We tried Slack with a healthy dose of skepticism as we’d tried other messaging platforms, like Microsoft’s Lync, with limited success. Well as it turns out, Slack was the silver bullet for reducing email clutter and facilitating efficient communication for us. In fact, I believe that it could make a big difference in communication for companies both large and small. Here are 5 reasons I would encourage companies to use Slack for communication:
Cut Down on Email Clutter
Email is still my first love when it comes to electronic communication but my inbox was a scary place for many years. With hundreds of emails coming in per day, it was challenging to get to all of them and many could be categorized as clutter. I’m not just referring to the email marketing communications or the cold calls from sales reps trying to sell their various solutions. No, I’m referring to emails that were part of important communication threads but that added no value. You know the ones I’m talking about, the emails where someone replies to the entire group on a thread to simply acknowledge receipt or to say “thanks” or “have a great weekend.” These emails added a lot of clutter without resulting in a lot of productivity.
With the introduction of Slack as our internal communication method, I rarely receive these emails these days. This means that my inbox is much less cluttered and the emails in it are much more productive. Does this mean that those communications don’t happen anymore? No, they just happen within Slack where if I’m not specifically tagged in the communication, I’m not alerted and can look at it or not.
Keep Things Organized
Slack is also a fantastic way to keep things organized. In our company, we create a new channel and invite the relevant parties every time we start a new project. All internal communication pertaining to that project happens within that channel making it a great place to collaborate and eliminating the need to search through multiple email threads.
Channels can be created for individual projects, for specific work groups or teams, and for general company-wide communication. You can even star important channels so you can keep a closer eye on them—this is especially important for large teams that maintain a large number of channels.
In addition to channels Slack integrates with a number of other solutions that help keep things organized, like Google Calendar and Google Drive. Slack will then give you important reminders and notifications within the app itself, like when you have a meeting coming up.
Keep Everyone in the Loop
In addition to keeping things organized, Slack helps us keep everyone informed. Sure, I might not want to read every communication in a channel, especially when it’s not directed towards me, but I can keep an eye on things if I wish and I can go back and read through old communications I might’ve missed to get myself up to date. As long as relevant parties have been added to a channel, we never have to wonder if everyone who needs to be in the loop has been copied on the right emails.
Slack is also a form of instant messaging, so it’s much more conducive to organic conversations rather than composed communications. This means that team members can communicate instantly and stay on the same page.
Search that Works
I’ve always found the search function within email to be a little hit or miss. If you don’t have the right combination of information to enter into the search field of your inbox, it’s unlikely you’ll find what you’re looking for easily. Slack offers a number of tools to make searching communications easy. There are a number of modifiers you can use to your query to zero in on what you’re looking for, you can set time constraints to limit the time range of your search results and you can even filter searches by file types for items that have been uploaded through Slack.
Work Life Balance
Work life balance is a challenge for many of us and the sleepless nature of email has always amplified this for those who can’t resist replying to an email promptly. While email isn’t going anywhere, tools like Slack have allowed us to improve work life balance by setting company-wide notification windows. Outside the hours of 8am and 6pm, Slack snoozes our notifications so we don’t feel like we’re always on. It’s a great way to help staff unplug a little.
Slack is a fantastic communication tool for companies of all sizes and the reasons to use it are endless, but these five things really stood out to me when my company made the switch. It’s important to note, however, that Slack can’t replace other methods of communication, like email. We still use email in parallel with Slack. Where Slack really shines is in internal communication and in some communications with vendors and freelancers that we contract to work with us, who we invite as guests to relevant channels. For client communications, we still rely on email. This might change in the future as our use of the platform evolves but right now it’s what works for us. We’ve found that that’s the key: leaving room for evolution. After all, if we hadn’t taken the leap with Slack I’d still be sifting through 300 emails per day.