Slack is hugely popular in workplaces around the country for facilitating team collaboration, but a bad implementation can create management problems. Read on for some tips on how to use it right.
If you’re just beginning to think about your Slack strategy, you probably aren’t an early adopter. But there’s no time like the present to consider adding an online collaboration platform like Slack (or if you roll that way, Microsoft Teams) to your office toolkit.
The benefits are are hard to ignore, but Slack’s problems are not insignificant, and organizations that don’t manage the implementation carefully can face unexpected challenges. Here are some considerations for your Slack rollout:
Guidelines are needed. Many companies have made the mistake of just dropping Slack into the work environment and cutting employees loose with it, notes The Wall Street Journal, but that can lead to a mixture of distraction and work creep. While you’re at work, you’re more likely to screw around because Slack is there; while you’re at home, you’re more likely to get contacted by work. WSJ recommends setting guidelines for staff, including tips on muting notifications when off the clock.
People interact differently online than in person. In Slack, an employer can see every detail of what’s said. But people don’t always interact with that in mind. Some employees let their hair down, use profanity (or acronyms with profanity baked in), and talk about things that would be considered no-nos at the water cooler, such as their job searches. Business Insider recommends that employers offer some simple etiquette courses in Slack chatter. “You can be more casual on Slack than over email, and chat platforms can even help you form friendships at work,” Business Insider states. “Still, there are some things— like swearing—that should stay out of the office entirely.”
People may not use it to its full potential. While most organizations think of Slack as a communication platform, the real secret to its success is its mixture of communication and automation. The business software firm G2 notes on its blog that Slack is an excellent tool for lead generation and can be used as a “back end” of sorts for front-facing online chats on your website. Additionally, when a traffic spike hits, an application can inform a channel, allowing employees to jump on an opportunity immediately, rather than after the fact. “Automating different processes in Slack can help your team become more efficient, productive, and save time in your day,” G2 states. The site lists 20 different use cases for the technology, including “Run your entire customer support from Slack.”
Like any tool, Slack can be abused. Last year, a story about Slack’s negative impact on corporate culture went viral: The treatment of employees on Slack by Steph Korey, CEO of the luggage firm Away, faced harsh criticism, leading to Korey’s departure (she eventually returned to the role). The saga shows how, without the right level of care, Slack can inflame toxic elements in a workplace. So manage it carefully.