Slack is a collaborative workspace for teams—but you can use the software for much more. When done well, Slack has the potential to increase the productivity of your team by 32%, and drastically cut the time you need to spend on meetings and email.
When your team uses Slack this lowers the likelihood of lost messages and files and helps people stay in touch wherever they are. Globally, employees are likely to spend 320 million minutes of the working week on Slack, so it’s worth making the experience as streamlined as possible.
Users have also shared a variety of use cases for Slack that are outside of the obvious ones, and you can browse them on this active Slack Reddit. Now, let’s look at our eight top tips for becoming a pro at Slack admin!
1. Organize your channels
The building blocks of your Slack workspace are the channels, and you should spend time organizing them accordingly. Your channels keep your conversation topics focused in their own place, bringing order to the chaos.
You begin with two channels by default—#general and #random—but soon you’ll need more. Be consistent in your channel-naming conventions: Slack recommends using team names and then hyphenating to create subcategories. Even with the best of intentions, though, with a variety of users in your Slack instance it can be easy for your channel structure to get a little messy over time. Some good ways to stay on track long-term are to create guidelines for channel names and set your default channels for new members.
It can be effective to restrict each channel to a list of custom users when you invite guests to your workspace and to set rules for customers to be invited in. Single-channel guests can view only one channel, while multi-channel guests can be invited to a number of channels of your choosing. You could invite a customer or client to a single channel, for example, to manage your communications with them around a certain project or event.
Remember to archive old channels that you don’t need anymore to keep your workspace tidy (use the slash command shortcut /archive). Setting up a reminder to review your channels regularly could help with this, or for larger organizations, you may want to consider using a cronjob to auto-archive any channels without recent activity.
2. Customize your workspace
You don’t have to settle for the default view in Slack, since your workspace is yours to customize however you like. Change the theme in the admin panel, instead. One theme to consider is the “Compact” theme, which helps reduce the risk of overwhelm and burnout using Slack.
Select your workspace name, then go to Preferences >> Messages & Media >> Switch to compact theme to compress the information you see for each message.
This simple change will take the visual landscape from this:
You can also make your own custom Slack theme by changing the colors of the display. Share your theme with any team member by copying and pasting the hexadecimal values in any channel or Direct Message.
You know that quirky message you see when you open Slack? Change your loading message to whatever you like by going to your workspace name >> Customize Slack >> Loading Messages >> Add a custom loading message. Enter your message and save it. You could cycle through a series of tips to help your team get the most out of your specific workspace, or emphasize company culture by resurfacing recent jokes.
3. Use Slackbot to the fullest
Slackbot does some of the heavy lifting for you by automating everything from away responses to frequently asked questions. You can save time ultimately by investing a little extra effort in customizing Slackbot responses during setup.
Set up custom triggers for automated responses to certain words or phrases. For example, you can customize Slackbot to answer users’ FAQs: when they ask for the wifi password, the nearest coffee shop, or how to reboot your app when it crashes (gasp!).
Imagine how useful this can be for, say, that one document or calendar link that everybody is constantly asking for. Or for boosting team resilience by adding encouraging messages to remind your team to take a break.
You can only customize Slackbot in the browser, so make sure you are logged into your Slack workspace. Select your workspace name >> Team settings which opens the Settings & Permissions page in your default web browser. Select Customize >> Slackbot to open the page where you can enter your trigger phrases and custom Slackbot responses.
You can choose whether you want to allow any team member to teach Slackbot custom responses by going to your Admin Settings.
4. Integrate with apps from the app directory
Another important feature of Slack is the ability to create your own unique workflows using the app directory. You can get more done when you rarely have to leave Slack, and reduce the need for context-switching by integrating with popular apps.
- Link your favorite project management tools with Slack, whether that’s Jira, Trello, Asana or PivotalTracker.
- Improve scheduling and communications by integrating with scheduling software like Google Calendar, email like Microsoft Outlook, or to-do list software like Wunderlist.
- Integrate with customer support tools like Help Scout, Intercom, and Zendesk.
- Take internal support to the next level with our own Halp, which was developed to integrate directly with Slack.
- Set Slack up for sales with Salesforce, HubSpot or Drift.
- Stay on top of development workflows with GitHub integrations, Zapier, and more.
To integrate a new app with your workspace, select the plus symbol next to Apps to bring up the directory. Search by app name or select View App Directory. The app directory is a great place to browse apps for Slack.
Connect IFTTT to Slack and integrate your services with something called “applets.” Different applets trigger automations based on simple “if this, then that” logic, and you can choose from pre-existing applets or build your own.
5. Create custom emojis
Here’s an easy one: custom emojis are one of the delightful features of Slack that make work just a little bit more fun. Custom emojis make your workspace more personal and exciting, allowing your users to express themselves more effectively, and you can allow any user to create a custom emoji.
Say you want Thor from Marvel’s The Avengers to make an appearance in your Slack workspace. Here’s how you create a custom emoji: select your workspace name >> Customize Slack >> Add Custom Emoji. Upload your image of the god of thunder and name your emoji thor.
Once you create your custom emoji and save it, it will be available to any user in your workspace when they type “:thor:”. If you prefer, you can restrict which users can create custom emojis in your workspace.
6. Set up Slack reminders for yourself and others
Slack reminders are a great way to improve productivity and can be done natively within Slack.
Consider setting reminders for:
- Project updates
- Project deadlines
- Checking in with clients
- Submitting expenses, timesheets or invoices
- Checking Asana tasks each morning
- Emptying the fridge every second Friday
- Team member birthdays
You can create custom Slack reminders using what Slack terms a “slash command”. Type /remind to bring up the formatting for a reminder, which is /remind [@someone or #channel] [what] [when].
You can set reminders for people or channels. Mention individual people to send them specific reminders, or type # then the channel name. Never forget anything again!
7. Use your Slack analytics panel
It’s important to take time out from getting things done to get a bird’s eye view of your Slack workspace. Slack analytics allows you to analyze where your resources are going so you can reprioritize if necessary.
Select your workspace and then Analytics >> Overview >> Channels or Members.
See how many conversations are happening in direct messages. View which channels are seeing the largest volume of messages by your users and use these insights to refocus your attention. Export your data as a CSV to view outside of Slack.
All members of your workspace have access to analytics by default, but you can change that setting in the admin panel to restrict to the owner and/or admins.
8. Invest in the security of your workspace
Slack is a powerful and all-encompassing tool, but that also means some of its activities can make your workspace more vulnerable. Safeguard your information and your users by using the robust security options that Slack has to offer.
- Set message and file retention policies so that information isn’t stored forever unnecessarily.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) which means that during sign-in, users must enter an extra verification code sent to their mobile phone along with their login details.
- Restrict access to your workspace by only allowing Workspace Owners and Admins to add new members.
- Make some channels private so that only approved users can view them.
- Track logins to your Slack workspace to monitor for suspicious activity.
- Control who can add extra apps to your workspace by changing your settings, as some third-party apps may not be secure.
- Limit the ability to create external links for Slack documents.
- Hide your members’ email addresses by default.
When it comes to managing your Slack workspace, the more security, the better.
You have the power
With a little time and effort, your Slack workspace can meet the needs of your team—you have the power! Workplace communication really can be fun and productive at the same time.
Customizing your workspace becomes more intuitive over time, and once you’ve set up things the way you like it, you’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of your efforts.
Questions? Comments? Share them with us in the Halp Community!