person using laptop and phone to communicate and message with Slack
PHOTO: Austin Distel on Unsplash

The pandemic has forced most organizations to rethink how work gets done. As they retooled, resumed and rebooted operations, many had to find new tools to make the most out of remote ways of working. 

As more workers move towards remote and hybrid work, their productivity has become increasingly important. According to Gartner, 82% of company leaders plan to allow employees to work remotely in the future. With this increase, companies need tools to centralize communications and bolster productivity.

Slack, the communication and collaboration tool founded in 2014, has grown to become one of the major communication products in the market. In fact, as of 2020, 65 of the Fortune 100 use Slack for their communications. Its ease of use makes it a robust tool for distributed teams because it gives them a platform to centralize communications. Competitors like Microsoft Teams have also seen explosive growth as teams look for ways to stay connected.

With Salesforce's acquisition of Slack last week, this market is poised to potentially grow even more. However, even though millions of people use Slack, not all are power users. Here's how some company leaders are making the most of the platform for remote teams. 

The Benefits of Slack for Business

Slack is attractive for organizations of any kind and anyone can use it. The free edition has no user limit and provides plenty of out-of-the-box functionality. Let’s take a look at some of the business benefits: 

Sharing Files Is Easy 

While remote work has helped reduce paper waste, that doesn’t mean companies have stopped sharing files. In Slack, all the files a team sends are centralized and available for people to check at all times. 

Sharing files within a single location also reduces communication silos and encourages horizontal collaboration. It also saves time with tools to find buried conversations. 

Enhances Team Building 

Despite its business exterior, Slack can also be used for team-bonding activities. Annabel Maw, director of communications at San Francisco-based Jotform, said her company, which specializes in building online forms, uses it for more than just work.

“At Jotform, we love using Slack to share our projects with one another, but we also use it to engage on a personal level," she said. "We have a general channel where we message work-from-home pictures and entertaining tidbits that happen in our day-to-day lives. It helps us stay connected.”

Centralized Communications Reduce Errors

Having a single version of organizational truth is fundamental for every company. With Slack, companies can categorize conversations according to channel and keep information in the appropriate channels only, which reduces the possibility of miscommunication and misunderstandings between remote workers. 

Similarly, by giving remote workers a place where they can talk about specific projects, they significantly reduce email traffic and inbox bloating. 

Hundreds of Integrations

Slack is not an ordinary chat room. It’s a communication hub where companies can integrate other tools to harness more value out of it. With the help of integrations, remote teams can create workflows, sync with Google, create Zapier Zaps, and push notifications to Trello boards, accelerating and enhancing productivity. 

For remote teams of developers, Slack allows users to integrate with Github to derive source codes for different projects and post updates to create pull requests and solve issues.

Related Article: Is Microsoft Teams the New Sharepoint?

Slack Tips for Remote Teams

Establish Remote Meetings 

For distributed remote teams across time zones, establishing scheduled meetings can be a good way for other team members in distributed workspaces to meet one another and work better. 

“Previously our bi-weekly all-hands meetings were held in person at our offices around the world," said Gretchen Keeney, head of global communications at San Francisco-based Intercom. "Now we stream remotely, and there is actually more engagement than before. People cheer, post emojis and react to what has been said in real-time in our general Slack channel.” For distributed teams, these meetings are also a great way to see others and create team cohesion. 

Don’t Go Overboard With Integrations

Slack has plenty of integrations to choose from, but that doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Just like you wouldn’t add every topping to your favorite pizza, adding too many integrations to Slack will just make things more complicated. Limit integrations as much as possible to avoid having a bloated, useless tool in your company's hands. 

Use Message Reminders

Setting message reminders is one of the most underused features of Slack. With reminders, instead of having to chase teammates to remind them of something, they can set a reminder on a particular message and Slack will automatically ping them. That way, they won’t be overwhelmed by messages. 

Celebrate Every Win

In remote settings, big and small wins don’t often make their way to every member of the team. Maybe someone closed a sale or onboarded a new client but if they don’t tell the team, only C-suite executives will know about it. With Slack, anyone can broadcast wins and give remote workers something to be proud of or reflect on.

Share Channels With Vendors, Partners and Customers

Slack doesn’t have to be only for internal stakeholders. Companies can also invite external stakeholders. A shared channel with customers and partners is a fast way of communicating shared goals, visions and information. It’s a channel that creates a bridge between the companies and bolsters direct communication that goes beyond weekly meetings and reporting. 

While the pandemic has brought disarray, it has also brought new opportunities for remote work and communication. Slack and other collaboration and communication tools have strengthened many teams' work, giving them a way to communicate faster and more efficiently. For a remote team, centralized hubs of communication can be a game changer.