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7 Slack Do’s and Don’ts to Improve Workplace Collaboration

The more Canadian businesses use Slack, the more they should think about how to encourage good habits that promote strong communication and collaboration.

When you’re working in the same office building every day, there are some standard rules of thumb that help teamwork thrive, like waiting until a meeting is over before barging through the boardroom door, or keeping a clean desk in case someone needs to pick up an important document.

Now that more companies are embracing Slack as the foundation for a digital HQ, the same kind of thoughtful and considerate attitude applies. You just need to adapt the unspoken etiquette to a new medium.

Thinking through how to maximize the collaborative capabilities of Slack is more important than ever following the recent introduction of Slack canvas.

First announced at Dreamforce, canvases are an easily and quick way for anyone in your company to pull together information that could be relevant for group decision-making. This can include traditional data such as customer invoices and marketing briefs, but also unstructured data such as social media posts, images and blog posts from customers or partners.

Just like a canvas used by an artist to organize their paints, Slack canvases can become the surfaces on which teams develop a vision for better customer experiences. Coupled with the power of a platform like Customer360, Slack canvas provides the perfect launchpad for new product ideas, improvements to streamline customer journeys and more.

The more Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) use Slack, though, the more they should think about how to encourage good habits that promote strong communication and collaboration. This list isn’t exhaustive but could serve as a starting point for a discussion with your team:

1. Do: Treat threads as productive conversations

It’s easy to digress when we’re chatting casually with friends and family outside of work, but veering off topic too often when you’re writing in a thread about a particular project or objective can derail progress. Remember that one of the best aspects of Slack is its flexibility to create all manner of threads, some of which can be tailored to less serious subjects like the latest hit movie or to share upcoming holiday plans.

2. Don’t: Send messages that cross a coworker’s boundary line

We’re all still figuring out how to balance hybrid work models, where we spend some of the time in a traditional office environment and other moments at home or another location. This can mean juggling workloads and managing schedules differently than some of us have done in the past.

Working as part of a decentralized team is a good example, where some coworkers might be operating in a completely different time zone. Pay attention to availability statuses. Use Slack’s scheduled send feature to ensure you’re respecting the time when people might not be ready or able to respond.

3. Do: Take advantage of direct messages to focus conversations on the right people

Many people become used to monitoring Slack throughout their working hours. That doesn’t mean they should have to check out updates that aren’t relevant to them. That’s what direct messages (DMs) are for.

Ask yourself: Do you need everyone on the team or across the company to know about a problem or a special date? Using the @channel or @everyone may make sense. If you’re trying to get specific feedback from a coworker, or to get the go-ahead on a decision from a manager, DMs are a way of filtering communication. Think of it as similar to stepping into someone’s office or stopping by their cubicle for a one-on-one chat.

4. Don’t: Be ambiguous about what you want from a conversation

We tend to collaborate in a few key ways, regardless of where we are. In some instances we talk to our team because we want to inform them about something they need to know to be successful at work. In other cases we want to consult them about a problem and get their ideas or feedback. There are also times when you need to make a clear decision about an issue.

Slack threads can become longer than they need to be when your desired outcome isn’t clear at the outset. Articulate the goal of communicating at the outset to save everyone time and energy.

5. Do: Recognize when to shift the conversation to another platform

You may not need to pick up the phone as much once your SMB is on Slack, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be used at all. The same goes for videoconferencing calls, or in-person meetings. These can all be viable platforms for going deeper on a topic or problem instead of creating a lot of extra Slack messages.

Before a channel becomes overstuffed with replies, be proactive in suggesting you follow up with coworkers – and maybe not the entire team – in another way. Suggest a time and (if you’re in the same location) place to continue the discussion.

6. Don’t: Assume everyone who joins your SMB will understand your use of Slack without training

Successful SMBs often find themselves growing more quickly than they imagined – not just in terms of customers or sales, but in the talent they wind up hiring. As Slack becomes more essential to your everyday ways of working, take the time to convey the accepted norms around it during onboarding processes.

You might even set up a new channel for fresh recruits (“Newbies”?) where they can ask questions or get advise on making the most of Slack as they get comfortable in their new job. Make sure Slack is part of setting up a strong, positive employee experience.

7. Do: Periodically step back and discuss how your use of Slack can be improved

The rules of etiquette are rarely once-and-done. You need to pay attention to changes in employee behavior and how the needs of your SMB might change. Think about hosting the occasional town hall or all-hands meeting directly on Slack, where the focus is solely on taking your collaboration practices to the next level.

Slack can become one of the most actively used tools in your digital HQ! The right leadership will steer that activity in directions that drive the greatest benefit to your SMB.

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