For anyone who’s ever worked in an unhappy office, finding more ways to communicate with your colleagues might seem like making yourself a hostage to fortune.
I’m happy to report, though, that at Image+ we’re a pretty happy bunch – and that recently we’ve found another way, and maybe a better way, to keep in touch.
Slack is an app that began life as a way to facilitate a completely different project. The company Tiny Speck was produced a computer game called Glitch, and discovered as they went that what the team really needed was a means to share ideas, files and conversations as they went. The game has long gone; Slack is going strong.
It’s main advantage is its simplicity: for those old enough to remember Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, Slack will encourage some nostalgia. A team forms, claiming a Slack subdomain in which they are able to establish a series of channels for different projects, teams or functions: #design and #development, for example, or #sales and #marketing.
Once invited to the platform, team members can join any of these channels (although it is possible to lock more sensitive ones), and also direct message other users. That’s it!
That simplicity is deceptive: the clean architecture makes Slack a totally focused app, available both on the web and via mobile devices running iOS and Android, which enables users to communicate without fuss or distraction.
The channels also act as a clean record of what everyone’s been saying recently – much easier to sift through than email, and of course less liable to missing a crucial team-member out of the discussion.
The app is great to look at, pushes notifications to your device to help you keep up-to-date, and even helps break down silos that may develop between different parts of a team. With file-sharing available – and video and audio to come, too – Slack really has proved to be a superb way of making things easy.
To be fair, it also has one extra advantage: bots. We love bots. These are Slack ‘users’ that are really programmable tokens: send them particular messages and they fire off a signal to one of Slack’s many sub-routines and tools, that can help you add an item to a list immediately, or post pre-set messages to selected users.
What does our bot do, you ask? It controls the office Spotify playlist. Told you it was a useful app …