A Virtual Ofice in Slack
COVID-19 has caused many organizations to transition to a remote workplace for the unforeseeable future. As a result, employees have had to make several adjustments from their typical in-person working environments. Perhaps the most significant change is how teammates connect (or the lack thereof) over digital communication platforms, like Slack.
This shift has impacted more than just standard weekly team meetings, but more so the natural side conversations that happen in the hallways, by the espresso machine, over lunch, or at a company happy hour. Remote workplaces have made it extremely challenging to create these off-the-cusp discussions that bring a fun element to the traditional office environment.
So, is it possible to make Slack the new “water cooler”? I like to believe so. In the post, I’ll share five ways you and your team can keep the informal but important discussions alive and kicking.
Increase Daily Check-Ins
When working from home for an extended period, it is easy to start working in isolation. You become hyper-focused on completing your own tasks that you forget you are part of a team — a team you probably really like. And for those in leadership positions, it is especially important to encourage active communication.
Start by making more daily check-ins with your team by utilizing Slack’s plethora of integrated apps like Status Hero.
This app asks team members to respond to a brief, once-daily check-in. It helps track daily goals and project status updates, all in one place. Status Hero eliminates the need for excessive video meetings while still assuring your team is communicating and on the same page each day.
Engage in More Brainstorm Discussions
Before Coronavirus, a typical morning in the office may have included grabbing a cup of coffee from a local shop with a co-worker. Now, the only interaction you have in the morning is with your Keurig.
Sometimes the best ideas are those created outside of a meeting. They can happen when team members are brainstorming or having natural conversations at their desks. However, with a remote work environment, it can be challenging to engage in lengthy discussions outside of a scheduled meeting.
To combat this challenge, consider using Slack tools such as Donut. Donut helps introduce people who are not yet well acquainted or have not talked in a while. It urges co-workers to participate in impromptu video discussions over a cup of coffee or lunch.
Even if you are more reserved, this Slack tool helps break the ice by providing conversation starters in channels or direct messages. In short, Donut is the best app for mirroring conversations that would typically transpire at the watercooler.
Create “Nonsense Channels”
A great way to improve communication over Slack is by creating “nonsense channels.” These channels encourage conversations that do not relate to work. This may include creating channels that focus on various hobbies such as:
- Great British Baking Show
Many of the reasons traditional work environments are less stressful are because of their culture and the interpersonal relationships between co-workers. Employees are bonded by the common activities and interests they have outside of the office. Nonsense channels help foster these light-hearted conversations most are missing from a digital workplace.
Start a Virtual Suggestion Box
There are likely many thoughts, opinions, and suggestions other co-workers have as we continue working remotely. Create a channel similar to a suggestion box where employees can ask questions or provide feedback for leadership teams to field. Slack offers a few options to achieve this objective.
First, a member from leadership can create a channel titled “Suggestion Box” for all employees or just specific departments. Team members can share and discuss their feedback by name or anonymously for more privacy.
A second option is to install the Abot Anonymous Poll and Feedback app. This allows employees to provide anonymous feedback to specific team members, such as managers or human resource administrators.
Additionally, this app allows Slack users to create polls where employees can vote anonymously.
Promote Employee Recognition
Giving proper recognition shows employees that their company values their work and contributes to the success of their team and the organization as a whole. This is particularly important when companies go through a shift as significant as a global pandemic.
Slack offers integrated apps such as Bonsuly to spotlight and reward employees for their accomplishments. Specifically, Bonusly allows users to send electronic gift cards to popular brands such as Amazon, Dunkin Donuts, Target, and more. It is also fun to share GIFs in the Slack feed when welcoming new hires and to celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries.
Whether an employee makes their monthly sales goal or takes on extra work to cover a sick teammate, we must show our appreciation. Creating this space will help improve employee satisfaction and engagement at a time where they need it most.
2020 has presented its fair set of challenges for businesses everywhere. While promoting normalcy in the workplace is difficult, it is not impossible. The greatest thing organizations can do in times of uncertainty is continue to maintain and grow their culture.
Slack provides teams with a plethora of channels and third-party apps to encourage regular and lighthearted interactions online. Creating an atmosphere where employees are excited to work — even when from home — will prove to have a direct impact on productivity, profitability, and general wellbeing.
I wish you and your team the best of luck as you utilize Slack to promote effective communication within a digital workplace.