Slack changed the way we work since it first came out in 2009.
Originally an internal comms tool for Stewart Butterfield’s videogame company, the business spun it out as it’s product and, barely over a decade later, the company was acquired by Salesforce for 27 billion dollars.
If you work in technology, it feels like Slack (and Microsoft Teams - if that’s your taste) is the homebase for your job. I know it is for me: virtually everything from weekly reporting to asynchronous meetings happen on Slack.
Yet Slack alone isn’t enough to build your digital HQ at work.
Slack in particular is a useful collaboration tool. It helps organizations coordinate work from a distance, including here at Friday. Instead of sending emails back and forth, I use Slack instead. It's much more efficient for internal, real-time collaboration.
But the platform has limitations that need to be addressed. It's especially useful for back-and-forth communication, but not on the other elements of work.
They say that old habits die hard - and because Slack was originally built as a communications tool, it still primarily serves as such.
In this article, we will go over those limitations and how technology companies like Friday make up for them.
Workplace chat tools encourage you to respond quickly, oftentimes with half-thought out responses. Almost every workplace issue I've personally been a part of has been a byproduct of a quick-fire response in Slack (sometimes my own doing). Async communication at its best is thoughtful and well-structured. It's an extension of having enough space to think (and calm yourself down).
The core value of Slack is the quick-fire interactions between coworkers, so they are incentivized to encourage this behavior, especially when onboarding new accounts. It's the "aha" moment after all.
If Slack wanted to create a more flexible workplace, reduce noise, and help people focus - they could make changes and introduce improved default settings for all customers. They have an army of data scientists that could analyze the constant presence problem if it was a top priority.
On Slack, you can do the following:
Yet that’s pretty much it. There isn’t any built-in feature that allows you to build a company culture.
Think of Slack being akin to Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets for comms. With the latter two, you can do a lot of things. If you work in innovation, for example, you can create your own internal system of idea management across your organization with a Google Sheet.
But making an innovation management platform using Sheets or Excel, as opposed to using a platform like IdeaScale or BrightIdea, can be disastrous. That’s because companies that build their own idea management systems using Sheets and Excel have to create formulas for managing the intake of ideas, figure out how to communicate that across the organization, and figure out how to gather teammates together to work on an idea that was voted on (let alone figure out how to collect all the votes).
You can absolutely use Sheets or Excel for such a case, yet it’s going to take a lot more manual work to change anything from the criteria of what kinds of ideas you are collecting to the process of working on those ideas. Why waste time and money when you can use an innovation management platform that automates everything for you?
This analogy works well with what we’re addressing here with Slack. It’s not impossible to attempt to build company culture using Slack. But Slack is like Sheets or Excel for comms: a blank slate where you have to build supporting components on top of each other. Deciding what those components are can be a challenge in itself, and the only way you can do this is via channels.
With Friday’s Kudos feature, you can automatically recognize employees for whatever they did that was remarkable without making it awkward.
Want to wish a happy birthday to Anna and Kyle but don’t have a public channel on Slack to do that? Don’t worry, Friday’s got you covered - even if their birthday is on a Thursday.
One thing I learned from sales is that everything is game to ask. Icebreakers makes it easy to do just that.
It should be mentioned that all of these features can be integrated into your Slack.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Slack were truly an ‘everything’ center? More or less, a homepage?
Unfortunately it’s not.
On Slack, it’s easy to make your work life disheveled.
Want all team members to be reminded of the company’s values every day? Put your company values on the homepage.
Isn’t it a nuisance to have important company events - such as outbound sales calls - separate from your everyday schedule? On your Friday homepage, you can integrate your calendar and sync your events with a planner and to-do list.
Shouldn’t the team be looped in on happenings in the company without hearing about it on the “press releases” page (if you have one)? Instead of having important news being lost in the weeds of your site of #general, you can showcase news in a widget on the homepage.
With Friday, you can keep all of these important items on the same screen. No longer do you have to dig through Slack, while pushing updates to Slack.
Friday is a team communication tool that not only is a roadmap for your day, but also is a way to stay connected with your remote team.
With Friday, you eliminate some of the noise of Slack while participating in asynchronous communication.
Slack has forever changed the way we communicate with our colleagues; and thus the way we work with them. However, like everything, we collectively need an update on how we organize companies online so nothing gets lost in the weeds.