Thanks to the variety of operating systems and productivity environments, collaboration can be a chore. The Slack app, from Slack Technologies, looks to change that. It allows you to create a webpage for your team to work together, and it uses a simple setup to make sure files are shared and no one’s slacking off.
Anyone can create a Slack account by visiting the company’s website and putting in an email. Once you have your Slack account, you can create a team webpage and start inviting coworkers. Inviting other team members enables them to see posts and comment, or add files. Instead of having one big and unruly thread with all the posts, you create channels.
There are two channels at the start: A general channel for “company-wide announcements and work-based matters;” and a random channel for “non-work banter and water cooler conversation.”
You can create custom channels for different projects, which house all related files and conversations.
The channels work well for keeping discussions on topic and separate from other items. Uploading files to a channel is simple, and the app supports both local storage and popular cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox. Teammates can even add a reaction to the files with a broad range of emoji options, from a smiley face to a squirrel in a hat.
For more private matters, you can directly message individual team members or create private groups. While there are similar apps, the best part of Slack is the ease with which you can find documents and conversations. The search function on Slack works beautifully, as it searches channels, direct messages, private conversations, and even shared files. It’s quick and effective.
Even outside the search function, Slack is incredibly easy to navigate, with a “jump-to” button that shows all your ongoing channels and conversations. Otherwise, the layout is broken into four tabs: channels, private discussions, mentions, and favorites. Mentions proves particularly useful, as it saves any comments that mention your name, ensuring you won’t miss a file or question. The favorites tab will show anything you have starred; comments, files, channels and messages can all be favorited and saved in this tab.
Other apps and services such as Twitter and Google Drive are easily integrated into Slack conversations. Google Drive is already integrated for uploading and sharing files, while Twitter requires a simple settings tweak. These are just two of more than 80 apps and services that Slack supports. Others include Dropbox, GitHub, Google Hangouts, and RSS.
The app is easy to master, especially if you follow the short tutorial at the beginning. Slack is free to download for Android and iOS devices but offers several paid subscription options. The $8-a-month Standard option allows you to see usage statistics and forward emails into conversations. The $15 Plus option promises 99.99% uptime SLA, advanced usage statistics and administrative control over security policies.
No matter the size of your company or team Slack can help you organize projects, share files, or even just have a group chat.