Are you Drowning in Email? Get Slack, A Dynamic Communication Tool for Small Business Teams

Slack review2

Before Slack we were buried under a hard-to-manage jumble of bulky emails on disparate topics. Not so now!

True to the buzz about this instant messaging and collaboration software, our small business team rarely uses email. 

Slack is now an integral part of our workflow, one that keeps us organized and streamlined.

Slack: a multi-purpose solution

Primarily a messaging app, Slack also serves as a our internal collaboration and project management tool. Different topics are organized into channels. We have over 20 channels ranging from our #1 priority for the quarter — our “Chief Initiative” —  to our Small Business Book Club to our recently launched Facebook live video series, EPW Live.

We “pin” key Google Docs to each channel so we no longer have to search for them in Google Drive. There are channels that our whole team shares and private channels for note-taking or personal use. Private messaging and a strong search capability augment the features.

What is missing from Slack? Task and time management. We use Asana, in combination with Harvest, to fill those roles.

Keeping our remote (and introverted!) team connected on Slack

When my techie husband first raved about Slack’s effectiveness for his projects with developers around the world, I thought it was for coders. Now it’s clear that Slack is intuitive and easy for everyone to learn.

Slack drives and organizes productivity and is especially useful for remote teams.

Some of our channels would normally be in-person conversations in a traditional office — things like “ideas needed” and “celebrate success.” Following our weekly Google Hangouts, Slack keeps the conversations going and it is ideal for introverts.

Slack facilitates calm, focused communication for introverted coworkers! #Slack #introvert #coworkClick To Tweet

We have a few different types of introverts on our team (for example, our founder Elizabeth is an INFJ and I’m an INTP). I recall working in a brick-and-mortar office with extroverted coworkers who loved to pop by and chat, not understanding that frequent interruptions depleted my energy. Now with Slack, we choose when to interact and respond to different conversations, preserving our energies and keeping our workflow and focus zones intact.

Bonus: Slack has an engaging, calming design that optimizes white space.

Other cool features & a caution on pricing

Slack is big on slash commands that facilitate integration with external services. We have only scratched the surface of seeing which ones may be useful. Stay tuned!

Pricing categories are Free, Standard, Plus, and Enterprise level is rolling out this year. Billing amounts are per active user. We selected the extra features of the Standard level, but Free is pretty robust.

Slack is good at the friendly perks, but there is reason to be cautious and to keep a few things in mind for a paid account.

We opted for a paid version of Slack, billed annually for savings. Slack offers incentive credits in the first year to lure you into a paid plan. These credits go away in the second year. And business charges that are an annual lump sum vs. monthly can be easy to forget and take you by surprise unless you are tracking them.

One impressive feature happens when a team member doesn’t use Slack for a while. We get an automatic credit to our account. Though the credit goes away when the employee comes back from vacation, it is good to know that if someone left the company permanently, our account would automatically adjust and we wouldn’t have to worry about being charged when a user drops off.

What’s next?

At EPW, we use multiple SaaS tools and test new services as they come along, making us a bit SaaS geeky and good judges of smooth operators that improve our tool kit.

Since its arrival in 2013, Slack has generated major buzz and grown exponentially–we understand why, with how much it has improved our workflow.

The Slack model has caught on and there are now many Slack-like services, including some that appear to offer a free version that includes the features Slack has in its paid version or features that Slack does not include, like task management. Slack will need to keep innovating to keep at the head of the industry.

Are you drowning in interoffice email? Have you adopted Slack or something like it? Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

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