18 Ways to Use Slack with Your Distributed, Shared Workspace Team
As the shared workspace industry grows, space operators find themselves working with team members, collaborators and contractors from around the world. This global collaboration is made easier by Slack, a fantastic tool designed to streamline communication between team members.
Slack enables you to chat, share files and resources, have private conversations and more. It’s a popular tool for businesses across the board, including coworking and shared office teams. If you’re new to Slack, check out the Slack overview and starter guide.
I spoke with Jessica Kearney, manager of Satellite Workspaces, to find out how the Satellite team uses Slack and get her best tips on how other teams can use the tool. Here are 18 ways to use Slack with your distributed, shared workspace team.
1. Keep Your Team Connected with Slack
Slack is an easy way to keep people on your team connected—whether around projects and business ideas or birthdays and event suggestions. Unlike email, which creates communication silos which can easily become confusing and unfocused, Slack keeps communication open and clear, even when people are in a different town or country.
2. Use Slack in Conjunction with Other Tools
Slack is a fantastic communication tool, but it isn’t the right tool for everything. It’s best used in conjunction with other tools, such as video conferencing, phone calls and email. Know which communication can be done with a quick Slack post, and which require longer conversations via video, phone or email.
3. Send Quick Messages on Slack
No need to get bogged down in an email thread if you just need to share a heads-up, a quick question or a comment. Slack is designed for quick messages between team members. The next time you’re tempted to send an email welcoming a new person to the team or asking for a recommendation, post it to Slack instead, either in a channel or in a direct message.
4. Provide Quick Support and Answers
The flip side of sending quick Slack posts and direct messages is responding quickly to them. You’ll get an alert when questions, ideas or concerns are posted and be able to deal with them immediately.
5. Share Resources on Slack
Slack enables you to share files, videos, links and images. If someone on your team needs access to a resource, you can easily share it through Slack.
6. Communicate Discreetly
Your shared workspace operators and team may need your help dealing with a challenging situation that’s unfolding in real-time. Slack lets everyone communicate discreetly to get support or direction from other team members, without having to pick up a phone.
7. Simplify Your Slack Channels
If you have too many Slack channels, they may not get used or it may feel overwhelming to people. The Satellite team initially had around 10 channels, including one for each location, but Satellite spaces only have one community manager each so conversations in the channels were infrequent and isolated. They now have one “General” channel where team members share questions and comments that might benefit everyone and they use direct messages for everything else.
8. Use Direct Messages
Slack direct messages are more immediate than email. Rather than have a message get delivered to an already overcrowded email inbox, Slack keeps conversations easily accessible. There tends to be less lag time between messages on Slack than those sent via email.
9. Encourage Clear, Concise Communication
Slack is not designed for long-winded messages. It’s designed for clear, concise communication. Getting in the habit of being as clear and concise as possible is a good practice for every team. It streamlines communication and reduces the time spent going back and forth around an unclear message.
10. Create Channels for Different On-Site Teams
If you have more than one person working in each workspace, it makes sense to have a channel for that space. That way, people can communicate internally about their own space, within the larger company Slack.
11. Keep People in the Loop
Community managers need to know what’s going on in their space. As Kearney puts it, “As a community manager running a space, you can’t have too much information about what’s going on at your facility.” Use Slack to keep people in the loop about things that are happening in the space. For instance, you can use Slack to communicate that a potential new member is coming in for a tour. That way, they’re met with, “Hi, Alan. Nice to see you,” rather than “Hi. Can I help you?”
12. Keep Your Slack Active
If you notice that your team isn’t using Slack, start a conversation. If you haven’t had a direct message with a team member in a while, reach out just to check in and see how they’re doing. If people aren’t using Slack, start a conversation about how you could be better utilizing it.
13. Try Slack Before Picking Up the Phone
Some people are in the habit of picking up the phone or sending an email to get quick questions answered. Encourage your team members to try Slack before the phone or email. If it turns out to be too complex or in-depth for Slack, you can always move to phone or email to continue the conversation.
14. Aim for Clarity in Slack
When using Slack, clarity is key. Give some context for your Slack post rather than posting a half-baked, unclear thought. A good general rule is to look at your post and ask yourself if the message would make sense if it had no other context. Messages should be that clear to keep conversations efficient and clean in Slack.
15. Set Clear Expectations Around Slack
Make sure your team members are clear about how they should use Slack and when it’s okay to send Slack messages. Remember that people may be in different time zones or on a different work schedule than you. Setting up clear expectations from the start can help you avoid problems down the road.
16. Use Slack in Conjunction with a Project Manager
Slack is a place for quick, concise conversations. It’s not a project manager. If a Slack conversation gets too detailed or big, you may want to move it to a project manager, such as Trello. There, you can assign duties, create checklists and store media assets in one place, which is not what Slack was created for.
As Kearney explains, “If you’re going to be doing action, record it in Trello so you can see what’s been done and what the next steps are. You come up with your projects in Slack, then organize them in Trello.”
17. Make Yourself Available
If you’re the only point of contact for your team members, or if you’re the decision-maker for a project, it’s important that your team is confident you’re available to them. Slack is a quick, lightweight way to give them the sense you can answer their questions and address concerns as they come up.
18. Start Conversations to Get People Comfortable with Slack
A good way to get a Slack newcomer comfortable is just to start a conversation with them. You can introduce yourself or ask them questions about themselves. An informal Slack conversation will help them get around the platform’s learning curve. “Once you have one good conversation on Slack,” says Kearney, “chances are they’ll be much more comfortable using it for work communications.”