I was first exposed to Slack by our developers. We were originally using a more mainstream, Enterprise chat software that was included in our productivity subscription. At first I pushed back arguing that “chat is chat.” After the gasps, they encouraged me to test the waters. Slack hasn’t asked us for this endorsement but I thought it would benefit other teams to understand why we use Slack.
Shrinking Geographic Dispersion
WitFoo has team members in at least 5 different zones. We all get together at least four times a year, but that is insufficient to get anywhere close to a culture under the same roof. We have a weekly team-wide meeting over WebEx where we catch-up on advancements and look at each other through Webcams. It’s a solid meeting experience, but has limitations.
Many WitFookin (what we call each other) volunteer for the project & have busy jobs & families. They get Slack notifications to their phones, tablets & computers so they can catch up when they have cycles.
Our developers turn off Slack notifications when in a heads down coding sprint & check in when they need to get coffee or stretch their legs. The channels in Slack allow us to communicate with each other in small bursts, and digest them at the right time.
Cross Domain Sharing
Many WitFookin subscribe to channels (like development) that they don’t have responsibilities so they can “listen in” on what ideas and approaches other departments are working on. It fuels innovative ideas, strengthens culture & maximizes available labor hours (people can’t pitch in if they don’t hear the need.)
None of us miss the rat race of checking into a cubicle, but we can miss office banter. In Slack, we direct message each other jokes that we’d never bother to email. We play games together in the #random channel. Most recently we stayed up past midnight cheering for the Cubs in game 7 of the World Series. Sharing memes, gifs, emotes and YouTube videos are constantly being routed for us on Slacks servers.
These small acts of comradery help keep morale up and strengthen the team.
Bots, bots, bots
Everything we do is routed into Slack from some bot. When a developer checks in code Slack tells us about it. If code fails unit tests or vulnerability checks, the team is notified. Our SECOPS guys get notifications of breach attempts. Our marketing folks get notifications when Twitter is heating up. We even track team health & professional development through Officevibe’s Leo bot. The flexibility of the bots allows us to get instant notifications to our best teams instantly.
Customers Love It
Each customer has a channel. When they ask a question their engineer, account manager, WitFoo partner, as well as our developers & managers instantly see it. It allows us to communicate & respond quickly. It reduces our costs in our desire to deliver great service.
In addition to how Slack connects us at a business and personal level, it has some key security features that are important to us. Slack archives our files and conversations. We also pull external backups off the system and have single sign on (SSO) with our central authentication service.
I’ve come a full 180 degrees since I tried to squash the developers hopes of launching Slack. All WitFookin use it and love how it keeps us close together and allows for efficient conversation. It has become our primary & beloved communication tool. If you’re looking to bring the team closer together & improve inefficiencies, I recommend kicking the tires on Slack. All chat is not created equal.