Did you know that most of us work remotely? We’ve got an office in Toronto and some of us pop in throughout the week to work alongside our amazing co-workers. However, the vast majority of our team work from around the world, in six countries and on two continents (so far).
We get to see each other about once a year, when we convene for our annual(ish) retreat. The rest of the time, we use a variety of apps and services to collaborate and keep in touch. These tools are so invaluable to us that we thought it was high time we shared them with you and gave them a shout-out on our blog. Today, I’d like to talk about a chat app we started using about a year ago. It’s called Slack, and it helps us do everything but that.
Slack’s no slacker
When we first started using Slack, we had just a few different channels: the “water cooler” channel for chit-chat, one for announcements, one for developers, and one for our CS team. Over time, our team grew and projects diversified. Where we used to be able to have one conversation, now there are a multitude of discussions going on at once. We needed more channels.
Slack has accommodated our needs beautifully. Not only does it handle a large number of channels with speed and aplomb, but it offers us channel-specific settings that help us keep our attention and our conversations organised. For example, everyone gets notified of posts in our #announcements channel; for this reason, there is no chatter allowed there. (Most announcements have a string of emoji reactions, since they don’t generate notifications.)
When a team-wide channel isn’t quite what’s needed, we can easily send each other direct messages or create private groups. These are just a few clicks or a keyboard shortcut away.
Speaking of which…
Slack has a number of really useful features that aren’t immediately apparent. For example, it has excellent support for keyboard shortcuts and several built-in / (slash) commands. One of my favourites is /feedback. This special command causes my message to be sent to the Slack team as feedback, instead of appearing in the chat window once I press Return; it’s really slick! /mute is also great, handy for temporarily silencing a busy channel.
Another fantastic feature is integrations. We can easily configure any Slack channel to listen to a particular web service. We have a few channels that listen to a few different services so that we don’t miss anything important. We can see App Store reviews, server alerts, and even tweets that mention 1Password.
Slack encourages customization. It’s so easy to add our own emoji that we now have a rather large library. Slack uses aliases in addition to a visual browser, so instead of searching for that icon I added for “all the things,” I can simply type :allthethings: to make the icon appear in my message. It’s so clever and convenient that I often find myself typing the aliases in other apps; I wish they worked everywhere!
Slack on, Slack off
Whether it’s discussing a new 1Password feature, sharing a funny GIF, or celebrating personal accomplishments, Slack helps us forge real relationships in a virtual workplace. Available on every major platform (including an Apple Watch app) and offering integration of the 1Password app extension in iOS, it’s easy to use Slack wherever and whenever we need it. We are really glad Slack exists, and are grateful for their support of 1Password. You can even catch @SlackHQ and @1Password occasionally bantering on Twitter. =P