We recently switched our internal (and remote) messaging app from Skype to Slack, the email killer that’s exploding in popularity. Slack also replaced GoToMeeting for our daily Stand-Ups with local and remote workers, and many of our other meetings. After begrudgingly giving up Skype, I no longer use it or miss it.
Slack is a great fit for teams at law firms as well, including intra-office communication and across departments and practice areas. Here are some of the instant benefits.
Communication – Open slack.com in a browser, login and you’re connected to your company, departments, and teammates. That’s it! Send a message, weigh-in on conversations, and engage in video chats.
Collaboration – Create channels–public and private–related to specific departments, groups, or projects. For instance, the Law Library can create a private “library” channel accessible by department members only. Or, Marketing can create “websites” and “social media” channels and invite people from other departments who are on the “websites” or “social media” team to join. Within these channels team members can share messages, files with comments, images and video, all saved and searchable. The channel can remain public with activities available to everyone in the marketing department or the entire firm: a new level of transparency and domain knowledge. Or, if sensitive information is involved, the channel can be easily switched to private.
Meetings – Slack started out as a messaging platform but added video (and audio) conversations by integrating with appear.in, also browser based with no additional login or downloads. This allows individuals or teams to fire up a video chat and share their screens by simply opening a new tab and inviting team members.
Water Cooler – “The expectation of intelligent gossip is a powerful motive for serious self-criticism, more powerful than New Year resolutions to improve one’s decision making at work and at home.” The above quote from Daniel Kahneman’s, Thinking, Fast and Slow, captures how important water cooler conversations can be. Create firm-wide channels like “team-announcements” or “bulletin-board” for conversations outside of project-based work. But be careful as these channels can quickly become noisy. Set up channel guidelines.
Integrations With Favorite Apps – Need to reference a document in Dropbox or Google Drive? No problem. Slack integrates with document storage and productivity apps.
A Lighter Email Inbox – Slack is not yet an email killer but it reduces dependence and just about eliminates mass firm-wide or group emails with endless exchanges that clutter inboxes. Instead post such messages to the “firm-announcement” Slack channel.
Slack Anywhere – Slack seamlessly syncs across devices for when you’re away from your desk and need to follow or be available for an important conversation or announcement.
Slack really shines in firms with a distributed workforce. I work remotely and now have access to conversations I was not previously privy to. I’m also aware of important decisions being made in the company via project-based channels I’m not directly involved with but that may impact what I’m doing. It’s also great for new employees to instantly get up to speed on office culture and firm knowledge.
In the months since we’ve made the transition to Slack, communication is up, email is down, and we have a more knowledgable, engaged workforce. We’re more aware of what’s going on in other departments that may (or may not) affect what we’re doing, and the water-cooler conversations are fun and relationship enhancing. Check it out!