The 7 Slack Etiquette Tips for Remote Teams
Slack boasts several features that have made it the preferred messaging app in the modern workplace, including third-party integrations, rich media support, and customization options, to name a few.
However, it all comes down to how you use Slack. When used correctly, Slack can be an invaluable tool for communication and collaboration. Misuse it, and it becomes the bane of your existence. In this article, we’ll cover some Slack etiquette tips to help boost your team’s productivity.
1. Reply in Thread
Threads are a great way to keep related messages together and avoid cluttering up the main channel. This is effective when you have lots of people in a channel participating in multiple discussions that can quickly become difficult to follow.
When replying in a thread, your message appears nested under the original message, making it easier for your team members to follow that specific conversation.
You only need to click on the “Reply in thread” icon in the top right corner of the message you want to reply to.
2. Get Your Point Across in One Message
Consider that each time you send a direct message to your colleagues, they receive a notification, which can be disruptive. Separating your thoughts into different messages leads to multiple notifications and results in context switching and decreased productivity.
For example, sending “hi” followed by “what’s up?” then “hope you are well” means your remote colleague gets three opportunities to be distracted from their work while waiting for you to type out your message.
A better way to do this would be to type out your point in one direct message and send it all at once. Try to be succinct in your messages to avoid confusion or back and forth exchanges. You can use bullet points and numbers to organize your message if it’s too long.
This way, your colleague receives one notification and can respond in one go, rather than having to stop what they’re doing multiple times to reply to your messages.
3. Be Mindful of Time Zones
Working productively with a team scattered across different time zones can be tricky. When it comes to messaging, you need to be mindful of when people are available to avoid disturbing them during their off-hours.
Generally speaking, try to avoid messaging people outside their working hours unless it’s necessary. Thankfully, you can customize your notification schedule on Slack.
To set your notification schedule, click on your profile picture in the top right corner of the Slack interface, then select Preferences > Notifications. From there, you can choose the hours you want to receive notifications and even set up “Do Not Disturb” hours.
In addition to this, you can also schedule messages to be sent later (during your colleague’s work hours). This is a more practical way to message a remote colleague who is unavailable. After typing in the message field, click on the arrow icon by the Send button and choose when you want the message to be sent.
4. Name Channels Appropriately and Add Descriptions
Naming channels and adding descriptions help keep things organized and make it easier for people to find the right channel for their needs. Adding a description is especially helpful in larger organizations with multiple channels with similar names.
To name or add a description to a channel, click on the channel name and select “Get Channel Details.” Once you have done this, it is vital that everyone uses each channel for its intended purpose to avoid confusion. For example, you should use your announcement channel for things like company updates, rather than using it for water cooler chat.
5. Pin Important Messages in Channels
Pinning messages is a great way to keep important information at the top of a channel. This is particularly useful if your colleagues need to refer to an earlier message in high-traffic channels, where new messages can quickly push older ones.
To achieve this, click on the three dots icon next to the message and select “Pin to channel.” You can also add a bookmark for links you want to save for later or think other people in the channel might find helpful. All you need to do is click on “Add a bookmark” in the top left corner of the channel.
6. Use @channel and @here Appropriately
The @channel and @here mentions are great for getting people’s attention, but you should use them sparingly. Each time you use the “@” symbol, it notifies certain people, which can quickly become annoying and distracting if overused. What’s more, it can also lose its effectiveness if people become immune to it.
Therefore, it’s essential to use these mentions wisely and only when necessary.
Note that @channel will notify everyone in the channel (including people who are not active at the time), while @here will only notify people active in Slack.
That said, you can use @channel when you need to ensure that everyone sees your message, such as a critical company-wide announcement. On the other hand, you might use @here when you need to receive quick feedback on something that does not necessarily require everyone’s attention.
7. Don’t Use Slack for Project Management
While Slack is a feature-rich platform that allows you to do many things, however, it is preferable to use dedicated project management tools to manage your tasks.
Slack is an effective tool for internal communication, but there are better options for managing your projects. Using Slack to manage your projects can quickly become overwhelming and challenging to keep track of.
Asana and Trello are great alternatives that offer more features and functionality for project management. What’s more, they integrate seamlessly with Slack.
Creating a Productive and Collaborative Workspace Using Slack
Sometimes, assuming unspoken or unwritten rules can lead to problems down the line. By taking the time to establish some Slack best practices from the start, you can save yourself a lot of headaches later on.
The tips above can be a baseline that you can leverage to tailor your Slack etiquette for your organization and get the most out of this powerful communication tool.