To keep communication streamlined and personal, remote teams often rely on messaging tools like Slack.
Slack enables coworkers to easily stay in touch and connected, even while working from home.
Whether you’re new to Slack or just looking for some helpful guidelines, we’re here to help.
At Tithe.ly, we rely on Slack every day.
We have 100+ team members who work remotely in the United States and around the world, and Slack has been key in keeping us connected.
Below we’ve outlined eight best practices for using Slack to help create an encouraging and productive remote work environment.
#.1 Over communicate
Working as a remote team means you rarely if ever, have the chance to work together in the same space, so it is important to provide a sense of connectedness and productivity amongst your team by fostering a habit of regular communication.
When in doubt, over communicate—better to share more than enough info, than not enough.
Don’t leave your colleagues in the dark about your progress.
Check-in with your team to update them on what projects you are working on and how they are going. Try to avoid working in a silo, because in the end, your team will want to encourage you and recognize the work you are doing, and vice-versa.
#2. Use status features
You can set account statuses to inform your coworkers about your availability throughout the day and week.
Even better, you can use emojis to quickly display certain circumstances. You can also add text to be more specific.
Here are a few examples for ways you and your team can use these features:
In a meeting
On a call
Vacation / PTO / Travel
Setting a proper status when you’re on vacation or traveling is not only helpful for your team, but necessary.
Customize your status to give more detail on your plans and set expectations for when your team can expect to hear from you.
It is not necessary to constantly update your status while on vacation; however, providing your team with a general idea of your reachability will be valued while you are away from the office.
Lunch / Coffee Breaks
#3. Use “do not disturb” for blocks of productivity
During the course of a day, you will surely have times where you enter a flow.
When you know you're about to spend a chunk of time in a focused, productive state, you can set “Do Not Disturb” and accompany it with a text status.
This will allow your coworkers to know that you are using the feature to stay focused and they won’t have to wonder what you are doing or when you’ll be available.
#4. Acknowledge messages and requests
Some days are busier than others.
You may even be downright swamped with meetings and projects; however, the person who messaged you 45 minutes ago, during normal work hours, may not be aware of your workload.
As tempted as you might be just to leave a message unread, it is more effective to take a moment to let the sender know you’ve seen his/her message and plan to reply at a later time.
Taking a quick moment to recognize a message goes a long way in building trust between you and your fellow team members. Slack even lets you set reply reminders: Simply right-click on a message to set a reminder for yourself.
#5. Create multiple Slack channels
Create various Slack channels based on teams, projects, or goals.
Consider creating a “random” channel for members to share fun anecdotes or casual comments. Take advantage of these delineated channels for specific team functions or topics to avoid unnecessary noise and overcrowding on all-team channels.
You can also choose to leave any channels that you don’t absolutely need to be in, and mute notifications that don’t have you personally mentioned to quiet the noise for yourself.
Channels can also be used for fun, light-hearted interactions.
Just ensure communication on those channels still allows others to be productive.
#6. Consider connecting apps to your account
Slack is a great, multi-faceted platform that allows you to connect your account with many other apps and tools out there to create a more streamlined process for your day-to-day routine and tasks.
Google Calendar is a great example …
You can find all app integration options at the bottom of your Slack dock (below your direct messages).
#7. Keep communication positive and encouraging
This may go without saying, but keep Slack communication positive, encouraging, and appropriate.
Everyone is free to express their opinion; however, common sense applies.
It’s great to have channels for your team where members can be more personal with one another, but consider different tastes in humor and cultural upbringing. To you, a joke may be humorous, but for others, it could be offensive. As a rule of thumb, if you’re not sure if something is offensive, avoid it.
Try to keep negative venting to a minimum.
If you are having an issue that you feel needs to be addressed, feel free to reach out to a team leader to figure out how best to resolve the issue.
#8. Praise publicly, critique privately
Critiquing a team member in a public setting can be demoralizing for that individual as well as your team, even if that’s not your intention.
If you do need to share some critical feedback or sensitive information with a member on your team, speak to that person in a direct message or on a one-on-one call instead of through a more general Slack channel. That way, you can discuss the issue in a more amicable environment, free from distraction and without the risk of upsetting your team spirit or being misunderstood.
On the other hand, sharing positive events such as team and individual accomplishments on the appropriate channels is always a good idea. Sharing wins and virtual high-fives is a great way to boost team morale and subsequently boost momentum and work ethics.
Practice praising each other for the fruits of your hard work!
Over to you
Working remotely doesn’t mean your team has to feel distanced.
Employ these best practices and use Slack as a place to touch base, share updates, communicate goals, and connect with your team.
When used correctly, it’s a tool that will foster encouragement and productivity—so make the most of it!