By Rose Tantraphol
You know that moment in a new relationship when you realize the person you’re with is a keeper? I seem to have that moment every week with Slack, described by NiemanLab writer Laura Hazard Owen as “a virtual meeting room and water cooler” that “somehow encourages members of a distributed work force to socialize and get to know each other while also getting work done.”
Hazard Owen’s observation nails why I got the Moonsail North team on Slack this spring when our startup went from the two co-founders to a team of five, which suddenly meant that we were in two states, two time zones, and three towns.
I’m a Slack fangirl in the same vein that I’m an Apple fangirl. The developers of Slack did what the best innovators do — they looked at a situation and asked if there was another way. Is there a better way to communicate with each other? The startups, tech companies, media outlets and marketing firms that have fallen for Slack believe so.
By the way, I love that Slack Technologies co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield, who is on the cover of the current print issue of Forbes, was a philosophy major. I also love that he will tweet like this.
What do you need from a platform? Check all that apply.
I turned to Slack for Moonsail North because I knew I wanted to establish the groundwork for a work environment that:
- Feels positive and fun to team members with different personality types. (By way of background, I am an introvert who can hang all day working by myself — but I needed to feel assured that the extroverts on the team never felt like they were lacking social stimulation.)
- Feels positive and fun, period.
- Keeps everyone’s creative nodes juiced and inspired.
- Provides a great way to exchange thoughts, ideas and simply chat without having to be in the same building.
- Accommodates different work styles.
- Accommodates different time zones.
- Accommodates different engagement levels (for example, someone on vacation shouldn’t get pulled into work matters, but when they return, they need to be able to catch up — and hopefully without getting sucked into the email overload pit).
- Allows for each of us to get stuff done like nobody’s business.
Slack has worked beautifully day in and day out for us, and I got to test it while traveling last week, when half of us were in the Bay Area for client meetings. Slack allowed us to not skip a beat despite the kicked-up schedule.
Sedora had the great idea to have us all have Slack handles rather than our own names. Some of us picked our own, and some of us had our handles suggested:
Scott’s handle might be the most confusing to the uninitiated. Hailing from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he is a “Yooper.” He’s a Flamenco guitar aficionado, and traveled to Spain this year to study the style. Katie’s a bit fan of — you guess it — sharks. The Hunger Games series is Bri’s favorite trilogy, who drew inspiration for her Slack name from her favorite character, Effie Trinket. To make her name even more personal, she changed the “ket” to “cat” because of her love for all things feline.
I am so used to our Slack handles, by the way, that I routinely start typing those handles into Twitter and Instagram when I’m trying to tag folks. And we all routinely say, “I’ll slack it to you” the way everyone uses “just google it.”
Scott, Bri, Katie and I all come from a communications background, while Sedora, who holds a master’s in public policy, lives and breathes in the realm of capacity building for organizations. Here’s a conversation about whether to dump Hootsuite for Buffer; it cracked up Bri and yours truly, while horrifying Sedora:
Who this Slackbot, anyway?
How do I love thee? Let Slackbot count the ways
More than one member of the Moonsail North team has had a friend say, “You’re so lucky you get to use Slack. I can’t convince my company to let us use it.” (I first learned about Slack, a so-called “unicorn” startup given that it’s worth nearly $3 billion, from one of our clients — the very smart guys at biotech accelerator MBI. Shout-out, Chad Pastor and Aaryn Richard!)
Check out how many emails Slack helps us to cut down on in any given week:
Rather than clog up our emails discussing our weekly blog posts, we discuss them in a #blogideas channel, and if we ever want to go back to an old conversation, we can do a search for it:
Our open channels include:
- Inspiring thoughts, images, videos, and all the rest
- Client work (of course!)
- New platforms to check out
- Moonsail North’s branding
- All the random stuff (this is a default Slack channel)
There are private groups and direct chats with another team member. I could go on about features, but I have to get back to a client’s branding project — and more conversations about our planned social content (both to be discussed in Slack, obviously).
Shacking up with Slack
I’ll end by saying that I’m far from the only one who has described Slack in terms of infatuation. Here’s a Slack story Scott Rosenberg shared in a Medium piece aptly titled: “Shut Down Your Office, You Now Work in Slack“:
Tracey Taylor, the managing editor of my hometown local news site Berkeleyside, is a reasonably hard-nosed veteran journalist, but she sounds a little wobbly at the knees as she tells me about her recent infatuation. She’s fallen hard — for an enterprise software service.
“I was away on a trip when we started using it,” she says. “Everyone was talking about how great it was, and at first I was annoyed. It took me about two days to see the value. Now, when someone on the team tries to contact me in any other way, I get annoyed with them — I just say, put it in Slack.”
Slack, a messaging tool designed for team collaboration, is the working digital world’s latest paramour. Slack is explicitly designed for the office, yet it feels like a friend. It’s business software that you don’t want to quit at the end of the day.
When we fall in love with a piece of software, we want to move in with it, and droves of infatuated users have shacked up with Slack. Now they’re importing more and more of their lives into it.
I say it was fate — Slack and our startup were meant to be together. 😉
In all seriousness, I’m extremely grateful that Slack is a thing — and a big thing at that — in time for Moonsail North’s launch. The platform has made a huge difference in our culture-building, our productivity-boosting, our idea-exchanging, and inspiration-amping.
Work smart, dance hard
Here are a few #TeamMoonsail go-to tunes when we want some music to work productively to. We won’t tell you which staffer chose which song — because #nojudgment. (If you want to guess, however, head over to our Facebook page and drop a comment.)