How to Use Slack Effectively in 2020

Slack is a great tool for workplace communication that requires the right habits and processes to get the most out of it. We hope these tips will help you use Slack effectively in 2020.

Many companies were forced to temporarily move their workforce remote with COVID-19, but some are embracing the change as permanent. Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Slack, and many others have opted to stick with remote work, causing an uptick in asynchronous communication and instant messaging within organizations. Teams who may have used Slack occasionally in the past are now relying on the tool as a core part of their communication. Other companies are just now adopting the tool and may be wondering how to use Slack effectively in 2020.

Knowing the logistics of how a tool works and what features it offers is one thing, but tackling processes and use cases is an entirely different beast. Our agency has used Slack for the last 5+ years to facilitate internal conversations, even going so far as to remove email from our toolbox entirely. As a Slack chatbot, we have some special insight into ways you can leverage the tool to its full potential. Settle in and we’ll share some tips for using Slack at work!

screenshot of slack platform

Update your Slack status regularly throughout the workday to communicate your location and availability.

A cool feature in Slack is that you can ‘set a status’ by clicking your profile in the upper righthand corner and selecting ‘update your status’. Status options include ‘in a meeting’ and ‘lunch’ among others. By keeping your Slack status up-to-date, you make it easy for your teammates to understand whether you’re available to hop into a meeting or consult on a project. In a world where you can’t just glance over at someone’s desk to see if they’re munching down on a burger, it’s important to keep these statuses updated throughout the day. In that same vein, you should be respectful of your teammates’ time if they’ve indicated that they’re taking a break right now.

set a status feature in slack

Make sure you monitor all-team channels for important messages!

For us, these channels include #announcements (where we celebrate birthdays, Cremaversaries, etc.), #general (where we share info that pertains to the entire staff), and #sharethis (where we share fun events, facts, and resources). Make sure new employees are brought into these channels and channel topics are set for transparency. These channels make it easy for HR or leadership to communicate messages and receive confirmation (via emoji reactions) that the team has read the announcement.

edit channel topic box in slack

Ensure that your profile in the Workspace Directory includes your phone number for emergencies.

To avoid the awkward ‘can I have your number?’ convo, be sure to include your phone number in the Workspace Directory. This makes it easy for your team to get ahold of you for emergencies without the aid of a headhunter. These numbers can be accessed by going to people and user groups at the top of your left sidebar. This is especially useful when you have clients or vendors included in your Slack workspace.

how to use thread in Slack effectively

Use threads whenever possible to reduce clutter & enhance searching experience.

Cluttered channels are a huge problem for teams that don’t leverage threads. If you want to tidy up your channels and limit visibility into conversations that don’t require your attention, you’re going to want to learn how to use this feature ASAP.

We recommend using threads if you do remote standup meetings and want to share your tasks for the day but NOT for major projects that might need their own threads. For example, if you’re marketing team is planning a webinar that involves several collaborators over the span of multiple weeks, a Slack channel would be more ideal to keep conversations organized and transparent. On the other hand, the team might use a thread in their channel to gauge opinions around an idea, have a quick side convo about something happening at the company, etc.

Leverage Slack Integrations and Apps to streamline processes + add some fun. 

If you’re using Slack at work, there are plenty of Slack Integrations and apps to add some fun to the platform. Slack’s app directory makes it easy to find the integration or app you need by categorizing your options into helpful buckets like ‘daily tools’, ‘essential apps’, and ‘working from home’. Integrations allows you to get updates in Slack from your favorite tools (like Asana and Google Drive), so you don’t have to jump between different tools throughout the day.

Some apps are built specifically for Slack, such as Scorebot. These apps allow you to interact with Slack on a deeper level, driving engagement among your team, organizing and answering employee questions, and administering quizzes. If you’re wanting to use Slack effectively to garner better communication and participation, try out some of these apps!

If there’s a Call-to-Action, set a reminder, put it on your calendar, create a task, or do whatever will help you get it done by the posted deadline!

It can be easy to check a Slack message, get distracted, and completely forget what you’ve just read. To use Slack effectively, we recommend you treat call-to-actions in Slack a little differently than you would your typical cat meme. If the message pertains to a follow-up meeting, get that booked in Google Calendar right away. If there’s a task that needs to be created as a result of a Slack conversation, get those tasks created ASAP. The up-front work will be well worth it in the long run!

Note: Slack integrations like Google Calendar make this way easier.

Mark a read message as ‘remind me later’ if you want to come back to it.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve clicked through to a message on Slack only to get distracted before we could formulate a response. Next thing ya know, your coworker is wondering if you’ve purposely snubbed them by ignoring their question about your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Simple solution? Turn on your ‘remind me later’ notifications for messages that you see but don’t have time to respond to right away by clicking the three dots next to the message and ‘remind me about this’. From there, you can select when you would like to receive the reminder. Alternatively, you can type the /remind slash command in the message field to create a custom reminder for yourself, other members, or a specific channel.

remind me about this feature on Slack

If possible, have discussions in Slack rather than scheduling (another) Zoom meeting.

The whole point of investing in a tool like Slack is to make communication more instantaneous and efficient. Leveraging tools like Loom and Miro alongside your Slack channels, you can cut down the number of Zoom meetings you’re scheduling and attending. It may take more up-front work on your part to type out the topic and questions you need answers to, but it saves time in the long run AND creates a written account of discussions. Consider the hourly salary of your peers and whether their time is best spent in a 30-minute Zoom call vs the 5 minutes it takes to read and respond to a message.

Get Slackin’

Slack is a great tool for workplace communication that requires the right habits and processes to get the most out of it. We hope these tips will help you use Slack effectively at work!