It seems like there are a million and one tools, applications and programs used by designers, developers and agencies today. It can be hard to know which ones really add value to your business. In the first of an ongoing series, we profile some of our favourite tools and discuss how they could better improve processes within your business.
The problem – Emails are killing your time!
According to a 2012 report on productivity and the Social Economy by The McKinsey Global Institute, the average office worker spends around 28 hours per week reading and writing emails, collaborating internally and searching for information. Whilst this may seem like an exaggeration, try to think about how you spent today. How much actual work did you get done when compared to the time you spent reading and reacting to emails?
Importantly, a significant proportion of these emails are internal. Whether these are quick questions that need simple responses, or group conversations that require multiple stakeholders to interact on an issue, these internal emails add to the pressure felt when you open up your inbox. French IT firm Atos (who are working to ban emails completely) have estimated that over 40% of staff time is wasted on reading internal emails!
Slack – The Email Killer!
Internal communications will always be a part of any business. But given our increasing workloads and the amount of us that work remotely, it’s not always easy to pick up the phone, walk over to your colleagues desk, or plan a 30 minute meeting to run through an issue. That’s where Slack comes in.
Slack is an instant messaging platform that can be used by companies of all sizes and types. It is simple to set up, and its user experience and interface is a joy. Not only can you create channels to address specific topics, you can message users individually, tag them to get them involved in a discussion and create virtual meeting rooms. In short, Slack is Instant Messaging (IM) on crack! You can use Slack channels to store ideas as well, upload files (simply by dragging and dropping) and attach links and videos (which will preview right there in Slack)!
The very tasty Slack Interface!
Slack also integrates with several existing apps and programs. Why not start a video conference right there in your browser with Appear.in? Link with your existing project management tools, such as Jira or Asana. Or integrate with Dropbox or Google drive to share files easily. Slack has also recently acquired screen-sharing tool Screenhero, which will eventually mean video conversations and screen sharing within Slack (say goodbye to Skype!)
Get your whole team on Slack
Let’s face it, any platform is only as powerful as its users. For Slack to work effectively, your whole team needs to be on it. But if you’re a small or medium sized business, the free version of Slack will definitely be all you need for now. There are desktop clients for Windows and Mac, as well as Android and IOS versions for collaborating on the go!
Once your team starts using Slack, we’re sure it will change how they communicate internally. Slack ensures that anything your team posts to Slack, can only be read by your team. Perhaps more importantly, your team owns its data, not Slack, which reckons it takes privacy, security and confidentiality very seriously. And if you’re the kind of busybody who wants oversight of your employees’ activity, Slack’s paid service now has a feature which allows administrators to export personal conversations (Yikes!). It is however, important to put in some personal or team rules to make sure you don’t use it for too much idle chitchat. Turning off desktop notifications and having specific times of the day to check Slack will help. As will organising your channels well and ensuring discussions are held in the correct channels.
So give Slack a go and start seeing your email burden go down and your productivity increase. As Slack keeps growing, so to will its features, and this alone is an exciting prospect!
Email isn’t quite dead yet, but Slack is definitely a game changer!