The Art of Slack Organization

Headshot for author Scott Wittrock

Scott Wittrock

Fractional CPO/CTO - Head for Product

October 17, 2023

min read

Hey there, it's Scott Wittrock, your friendly tech enthusiast and Fractional CPO/CTO, and today, I want to share some valuable insights on how to make the most of Slack at your tech company. Slack is more than just a messaging platform; it's a powerful tool for enhancing collaboration and boosting productivity. Let's dive in! I reached out to my community to get some tips for best practices regarding Slack.

Keep it Public

One of the fundamental principles I believe in when using Slack is keeping things public. Transparency is critical to fostering an inclusive and open work environment. Encourage your team to utilize public channels instead of engaging in private one-on-one conversations by default.

Why? It promotes knowledge sharing and ensures everyone has access to critical information. It also minimizes the feeling of being left out of the loop. Public channels allow new hires to catch up on past discussions and stay up-to-date with ongoing projects.

One community member wisely noted, "Troubleshooting bugs is a great example where keeping things in public threads is super useful. Most people want to be helpful, and having a second or third set of eyes on something as it develops can help solve issues quickly.”

Create Spaces for Teams

Organizing your Slack workspace is crucial for efficiency. I advise creating dedicated spaces or channels for different teams or departments. This keeps conversations organized and prevents essential messages from getting lost in the noise.

  • #team-{team-name}

For instance, you can have separate channels for your development, marketing, and customer support teams. Each group can have focused discussions, share relevant files, and collaborate effectively without distractions.

As another community member wisely suggested, "I default to public because it is usually helpful for the content to be in the search system and for people who join a conversation to be able to read the history.”

Create "Get Help" Channels for Teams

In addition to team-specific spaces, I recommend setting up "Get Help" channels for each team. These channels serve as a go-to place for team members to ask questions, seek assistance, or share updates related to their projects.

Having these dedicated help channels reduces the clutter in team-specific channels. It ensures that important queries are not lost in the shuffle. It also encourages team members to help each other, fostering a collaborative spirit within the company. One suggestion for names would be:

  • #org-{team-name}
  • #org-hr
  • #org-software

One community member shared, "Creating 'Get Help' channels is fantastic. It keeps the main channels focused on work-related discussions while providing a dedicated space for questions and support.”

Create a Space for Fun and Encourage Fun

A healthy work environment includes a touch of fun. That's why I suggest creating channels dedicated to fun activities and light-hearted discussions. Once your team grows beyond 10-20 people, it's worth creating some structure. Watch the chatter of your team, and set up dedicated spaces for specific topics. Some common channels that typically get a lot of activity a

  • #home-101
  • #pets or at one company it was #aminals due to a typo that stuck around for years.
  • #gaming
  • #philly or #nyc For remote teams with local hubs set up state or city groups for local chatter.
  • #parents or #family
  • #tv-movies or #watchables
  • #sports

One member wisely pointed out, "DM's are bad, but Group DM's are terrible. Just put the thread in the channel for maximum visibility.”

Use Sparse Automation to Encourage Chat

Automation can be a game-changer when used judiciously. Consider implementing bots or integrations to help automate repetitive tasks and encourage chat engagement. For instance, you can set reminders for daily standup meetings or use a bot to welcome new team members.

I really appreciated one community member who shared their format for standups, which has a much more human-focused approach. You can read a little about that here.

However, remember to do it sparingly. Too much automation can make Slack feel impersonal. Balance is critical; use automation to streamline processes and free up time for meaningful interactions.

Another community member shared, "Use Zapier to make Slack so much more powerful.”

In conclusion, Slack is a versatile tool that significantly enhances communication and collaboration within your tech company. You can make Slack the beating heart of your company's communication ecosystem by keeping things public, organizing channels effectively, promoting "Get Help" spaces, adding a dash of fun, and using automation wisely.

These strategies will help your team stay connected, informed, and engaged while having a bit of fun along the way. So, go ahead and make the most of Slack – your tech company's productivity and team spirit will thank you for it!

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