In June 2015 we introduced the instant communication tool, Slack, to Material. It is completely internal and was first introduced to alleviate pressures on inboxes and, in turn, our email server, and allow for controlled notifications.
Materials ongoing fixation* with email notifications is lead right from the top with Sera Miller, our CEO, being a ‘turn off email pop-ups’ advocate. (*read hate). Nadine discussed the relief she felt when she took the plunge, here.
If help from drowning in irrelevant emails was all we were hoping for with Slack then we could already deem it a success as it has reduced email traffic across the board by 80%. However, through continued use we have found the benefits far reaching, unexpected, with massive opportunities for the future.
Slack was initially designed with developers in mind and as you know, we are not a company of developers. There are also other instant communication products on the market like Yammer, HipChat and Skype. We haven’t trialled them all, but after trialling Slack just before T in the Park hit us this year, to try and relieve distractions for the core team, we are now OBSESSED. And not just that, we are hooked. Well done to the Slack development team for creating the instant messaging equivalent of heroin. Presumable they know how addictive it is since they have just been valued at $2.8 billion. Jesus.
Slacks channel features mean we can set up client project channels. Any updates are funnelled through Slack so everyone working on a project is continually updated on its progress. Everyone within the company can see what status every project is at, they can even add a helpful piece of information, without having to be part of the whole conversation, if not required. Our #inspiringideas channel is bursting with anything and everything seen across the industry which can be searched for research purposes or if you just want some inspiration on your lunch break. Our #howto channel can be searched for all information you may need about how Material works from ‘How to Upload a Blog Post’, our ‘Equality Policy’ to ‘How to Book a Meeting Room’.
Everyone in the company decides how they use it. Our one requirement is you are a member of one channel. The #allstaff channel. It’s where we update company wide essential information for all staff. You need to be a part of the channel to know when things are a-changing. No banter allowed. The rest of the channels… it’s up to you to join, receive notifications, and interact in. Everyone has found it massively beneficial to be able to ‘turn down the noise’.
To be honest, when we first joined Slack, we found that the banter level went up 20 fold because people were excited about this new toy but after about a month that calmed down and now it is business (better) than usual.
It is an excellent way for a newly appointed recruit to really get to grips with who does what within the company, without feeling like they are bugging their Line Manager with lots of questions. From knowing who to ask about ordering a new mouse, to figuring out the status and responsibilities within a client project. Slack is an invaluable tool that helps with the knowledge attainment process, which normally take weeks, if not months.
One major benefit, which wasn’t expected when we first introduced Slack, was the way it connects the team, whether in the office or on the other side of the world. Nadine Walker who recently moved from our Glasgow to London office says she is able to feel included because she always knows what’s going on in the Glasgow Head Office, and Sera Miller, our CEO, is able to give live updates if attending an international event such as the Cannes Lion Festival or Adweek Europe.
Yes you can customise emoji’s and pull in random gifs to conversations at will, always a huge plus point for the little creative weirdos we have at Material but mainly, Slack alleviates pressure, encourages interaction and allows everyone to have a voice. Material loves Slack.