5 Tips to Boost Home Business Productivity With Slack

Getty Images

Slack is a messaging and project management system that has revolutionized how businesses of all sizes work. In just a few short years, Slack’s user base has soared from a little over 500,000 users three years ago to nearly 6 million active users in 2016. Along with messaging around specific topics, private messaging, document sharing, and integration with other programs, use on mobile devices as well as computers, plus free and low-cost pricing options, Slack is an ideal tool for home business owners who need to work with contractors and others to get things done.

Whether you’re a home business, an online commerce site, freelancer, or simply curious about adding Slack as a tool to manage your business, you need to learn to use it effectively. Slack is a powerful communication tool, but also, is easily misused. While it can lead to giant leaps in productivity, it can also create problems with miscommunication or burnout that can hinder productivity.

Fortunately, with a few quick tips, you’ll be using Slack to its full potential. Here are the 5 tips for using Slack effectively in your home based business:

1. Establish Slack Etiquette

Coordinating with suppliers, contractors (i.e. your virtual assistant), and clients can be quite daunting when done remotely. Sounding professional in a chat room can be difficult. Instant messaging often invites lazy, typo-ridden messages. Unfortunately, having team members use texting language habitually can create an unprofessional work environment.

Hasty typos and colloquialisms may paint an unbecoming image of your company. Additionally, Slack archives conversations, so you’ll want communication standards to be consistent and easily searchable. To this end, institute communication rules with your team members. While you may feel like a stickler, it will vastly improve the level of discourse, substantially reduce communication breakdowns, and make it easy for members to find the information they need.

2. Allow Channels to Evolve Naturally

Setting up rules for engagement helps maintain clear and professional communication. With that said, you want to avoid micromanaging conversations. Many owners find themselves nit-picking their team’s grammar, communication styles, and digressions to an extreme. For example, a channel created to discuss digital marketing tactics could naturally evolve into one focused on social media management. Don’t stop these changes from happening if the conversations are helpful to your business.

Do:

  • Set up private channels
  • Assign owners who are responsible for management
  • Lightly steer off-topic or unproductive conversations
  • Ask for clarification if purpose or goal of the channel becomes unclear
  • Pivot purpose as channel evolves

Don’t:

  • Admonish for digressions
  • Constantly redirect conversations
  • Force discourse
  • Discourage collaboration
  • Stymie growth

3. Use Bots to Improve Productivity

There are a variety of bots you can integrate into Slack to make you and your team’s everyday tasks easier. Bots can help you reduce micromanaging even further with a plethora of project management bots, that help with tasks such as tracking expenses, reminding members to keep you updated on progress, and more.

Email bots can automatically keep your team up-to-date and informed.

Take the time to research automated tools that will work for your company as there are many tools available for specific purposes.

4. Streamline With Integrations

In addition to bots, there is a tremendous amount of Slack integrations available to you. You can utilize the best of them to optimize your team’s productivity. You can integrate Twitter, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Trello, and MailChimp, just to name a few. Adding integrations makes your business’ Slack use more robust, feature-rich, and intuitive for your team. Further, it allows one resource to manage your other tools, for easier access and use.

5. Encourage Your Team to Unplug

With apps like Slack, it can be hard to tear yourself from work. There’s constantly something to check up on or a meaningful conversation that needs one last interjection. However, your team members’ round-the-clock connectedness can increase their stress, which can hinder productivity and quality in the long run. So, advise them to take breaks from Slack. Set “do not disturb” hours for team members and encourage them to mute notifications during the evening.

Slack is a wonderful communication tool, that if used right, can make you and your team better informed and more productive. It starts with spending time tooling around with Slack and exploring different ways to optimize workflows, such as utilizing bots and integrations. There are bound to be bumps along the road, but Slack’s free tier makes your commitment minimal. When you consider the potential boost in creativity and efficiency, the time and effort put into learning Slake will be worth it.