6 Unusual Ways People are Using Slack

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By now you’ve almost certainly heard of Slack, an enterprise collaboration tool that continues to shine brightly in a sea that’s full of other similar apps. In addition to Slack’s popularity—over the summer, it was announce that the tool is used by more than 1 million people every day—the collaboration platform is also extremely valuable, having achieved an incredible $2.8 billion valuation earlier this year.

There’s a reason simple explanation for Slack’s success: The tool provides an incredible amount of utility, which is why it’s able to call companies like Airbnb, Buzzfeed, Box, Yelp and Pandora customers.

At its heart, Slack is an enterprise messaging and collaboration tool. You can use Slack to communicate with team members in a group chat, send private direct messages to individual colleagues and organize all project-specific or department-specific messages into a single channel.

You can also use Slack to share files with the team, and the collaboration tool is easily searchable, so you’ll have no problem finding the specific content you’re looking for. And oh yeah, the tool boasts an insane amount of integrations, so Slack also helps streamline your entire workflow.

That description, of course, seems at least somewhat similar to most other enterprise collaboration tools. But Slack, it seems, refuses to be lumped into such a generic category. The tool is extremely customizable, and due to its widespread user base, we’re beginning to see more and more organizations use Slack in somewhat unconventional—and hopefully inspiring—ways.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at six of the more unusual Slack use cases we’ve stumbled across.

1. Slack uses Slack to generate comprehensive employee dialogue.

You never know when the rookie engineer, for example, has a killer marketing idea.

While your team can use Slack as publicly or privately as you’d like, Slack the company prefers to keep employee dialogue as out-in-the-open as possible. “You don’t want to discourage the person the customer spoke to from asking the engineers how to fix something, or how something works, or how to respond to a customer,” explains Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

So instead of leaving it to the marketing team to come up with a new campaign, to continue the example, you can use Slack to maintain an open dialogue across your entire organization. That way, instead of getting three ideas, you might get 50.

2. Slack also uses Slack history as an employee handbook of sorts.

Butterfield also says that his team uses Slack to help catch new hires up to speed with what’s going on at the company. When a worker starts at a more traditional company, he or she will get an email account with an inbox that might have a few welcome messages—but nothing much more than that.

At a company that uses Slack, though, there’s a living and breathing history just waiting to be explored. New hires at Slack are asked to peruse Slack’s own Slack instance to see how people interact with one another, what kinds of people said what kinds of things, what resources the team looks at and what files were exchanged, among other things.

“The experience of being able to search back over all your team’s communications for, in our case, millions of messages, is super-valuable,” Butterfield says. “But you don’t know what that’s like until you actually have it.”

3. Taplytics uses Slack to communicate with customers, clients and friends.

Slack lets its paid-for users invite folks from outside company walls to join specific channels, leading to a “more personal” digital interaction. Rather than passing emails back and forth, communicating with customers via Slack seems more personable and modern.

“Every conversation becomes a little bit more familiar and a little bit more real like two people talking to each other versus just an email or support ticket,” explains Aaron Glazer, CEO of Taplytics.

4. Crispy Mountain uses Slack to be transparent with its clients.

As a company that builds custom software for clients, Crispy Mountain knows firsthand how much better off customers feel when they’re involved in the creation process.

That’s why the company invited its customers to join its own Slack channels. Now, customers are able to see exactly what the team at Crispy Mountain sees in its project channels. The company’s customers know exactly where the team stands on certain projects at any point in time.

5. Quartz uses Slack to make sure no two employees do the same task.

In the news business, it’s not unheard of for two folks in editorial or production to do the same task. Maybe an editor grabs a story that’s already been edited. Maybe someone in the art department is laying out a page that’s already been laid out.

Whatever the case may be, in a world of deadlines, there isn’t much time for duplicity. Which is why Quartz, which owns The Atlantic, uses Slack to make sure the entire newsroom is on the same page at all times. The folks at Quartz developed an emoji-laden system to ensure tasks would get completed once and only once.

6. Coachseek uses Slack to say goodbye to email.

While perhaps not a completely unusual use case—the goal of collaboration tools, after all, is to streamline and optimize enterprise communications—Coachseek is living proof that Slack can significantly reduce the clutter that materializes in your inbox every day.

Prior to switching to Slack, Coachseek dealt with roughly 600 internal emails every day. After the switch, it dealt with an easily manageable three or four. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Thanks to Slack’s integrations—and companies like Zapier which enable other Slack integrations—the sky really is the limit when it comes to ways you can use the intuitive collaboration tool.

Does your team use Slack in any interesting ways?

 

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