Slack has taken over the business world with a collaboration tool that drastically cuts the need for emails and meetings, and is fun to boot.
After launching publicly in 2014, it increased its user base tenfold in 2015 and now claims almost 2.5 million daily active users, about a quarter of which pay for the premium version. Businesses around the world have credited Slack with changing the way they operate. To find out what makes it so special, we catch up with Mike Clapson, sales manager, APAC, at Slack.
Clapson says the main reason real estate agencies and other team-based businesses implement Slack is to increase efficiencies of communication. “If you work on a remote team, are on the go regularly, or part of a rapidly growing team, it’s likely that team communications are cluttered and hard to keep track of because of multiple mediums being used within one organisation,” he says. “Many teams use email, Skype, Google Chat or even text messaging for communication. This leads to information being scattered and disorganised.”
You’d be hard pressed to find a company that doesn’t struggle with email overload. It’s incredibly difficult to find important information that was buried somewhere in last week’s email or a personal private chat. “Having all work communications in one place helps teams be much more organised and transparent by making information accessible and searchable for everyone, at any time, from any location,” Clapson says.
“It becomes the only thing a team member needs to check. Slack replaces internal email, so teams that work closely together don’t need to read and respond to hundreds of small emails every day. Instead, it provides an open stream of conversation in real time through ‘channels’.” Clapson says. Channels can include files, messages and automated assistants that make sharing information easier. It allows teams to organise conversations that are taking place throughout the office, so team members can read, search and reference them in the future.
Slack’s other selling proposition is that it connects colleagues to the people and the tools they work with every day through integrations with project management tools such as Trello and document collaboration tools such as Google Drive, as well as dozens of popular services such as Twitter, Dropbox, Asana, JIRA, MailChimp, Stripe, Zendesk help consolidate and make sense of the ever-growing flows of data that confront modern teams.
“Integration with various third-party apps is one of Slack’s most useful features, Clapson says. “There are more than 600 apps that can plug directly into Slack. Most are those that help people with everyday activities like filling out expense reports or scheduling meetings – saving valuable time from switching around different applications to do everything you need to at work.” To ensure successful implementation and ongoing effectiveness of a communications tool like Slack, Clapson recommends starting off with a ‘Slack day’, where everyone gives it a go together.
“A team’s commitment to give it a try, and stay out of email for a day, ensures that people don’t get stuck in old habits.” He also suggests managers should emphasise the ‘why’ of the move to the platform, for example because it improves team communication by making conversations more transparent and frees your time from email and meetings.
Clapson provides some revealing figures about the way Slack is changing workplaces. “On average, people spend about 10 hours connected to Slack each workday, and over two hours actively working in Slack,” he says. “Our research data shows that customers see a 49 percent reduction in email, 25 percent reduction in meetings and a 32 percent increase in productivity.”
Less emails and fewer meetings means teams get more done. Staying consistently and openly in contact also creates a higher sense of belonging and a stronger team culture. There’s even room to express personality and join shared interest channels like #sailing or #foodies. Along with work-based channels, of course.