If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking for ways to cut down on email and streamline your business life (well, all of life, but for now, let’s just focus on business). So, if haven’t already heard about Slack, you need to get on board the bandwagon ASAP. Ten million users can’t be wrong, and any company that dubs itself the “email killer” is worth a second look.
Slack is a live-messaging application that allows you to talk to your team via text or video/audio call, share files and keep your communications organized by topic. It’s also allowed my growing law firm to reduce internal emails by 90% and increase efficiencies across three offices. To make the most out of the app, practice these six hacks and look forward to a tidier inbox.
1. You can organize channels by topic, client or project.
Slack is a great way to organize and focus your conversations with your team. You can create different channels (think chatrooms à la 1990) and state a purpose for each channel (“Help John Doe not get sued”). Depending on your industry, you can create channels for specific clients or projects. You can also create channels for non-work-related banter, like a virtual water cooler. This encourages interpersonal relationships between team members without it being a distraction.
2. You can set reminders.
Ever forget something you swore you wouldn’t? Yeah, me too. Luckily, Slack has a great feature where you can set reminders and make sure you’re not dropping the ball. For me, the reminders are in specific project channels and can be as simple as: “Remember to follow up with Jane Doe and obtain financial records."
3. You can connect Slack to other apps.
Slack plays nicely with lots of other apps, which can make life exponentially easier. Under the “add apps” section, you can easily integrate Asana, Google Docs, Gmail, Google Calendar, Twitter and a whole host of other apps that you and your team may already be using. How nice would it be to have a conversation in a channel with a teammate and then instantly create a follow up task in Asana? Or, share an email regarding a critical project with the team that’s working on it, instead of risking its loss in the inbox shuffle?
4. You can create single channel users.
What if you are working with a contractor or a client and you want to be able to collaborate using the awesome power of Slack? Have no fear! Slack allows you to create a single channel user where a person who is not a full member of the team can only access the one channel you give them permission to access. Your business secrets and client confidentiality can remain safe—essential for law firms, CPAs, and other companies that provide professional services and handle confidential information.
5. You can create private channels.
Managing a team is a whole lot easier with Slack. Private channels that are restricted to the members of the leadership team mean an end to worrying about employees overhearing conversations between leaders. Especially if your management team is distributed across several cities or offices, operating this way is a must. Users are also not able to read private messages in Slack — think direct messages and private-channels — unless they have a particular subscription. This is normally the case in industries such as finance, where employers are required to keep diligent and complete communication records. As a manager, you can decide how long the conversations are stored in the cloud. Use of Slack for these types of private conversations means you’ll need the proper policies in place to guide your company’s data storage, security and code of conduct about what is or is not appropriate communication within your organization.
6. You can use all the keyboard shortcuts.
You can start a call, end a call and toggle between channels all with just a few strokes of your keyboard. Slack has an entire list of keyboard shortcuts to help you use the app more efficiently.
Slack has been a game changer for my firm. It has helped us establish more organized and efficient processes and become one of the fastest growing law firms in Idaho. It’s worth taking the time to check it out and integrate it within your organization.