5 Ways to Humanize Teamwork Using Slack

It's all about balancing IRL interaction with technology

Slack has become a staple at businesses around the country. Slack
Headshot of Molly St. Louis

When messaging apps began to take over the workplace, some leaders worried that they would replace face-to-face interactions and kill our humanity completely.

These fears were not unfounded, given the studies we read about how millennials prefer texting over having actual conversations and that relying so much on communication technology can cause feelings of isolation.

No bueno.

But at the same time, we can appreciate the speed and efficiency granted to us by collaborative messaging apps and generally agree that as businesses build bigger teams, establish more offices and utilize remote workers, these types of platforms become absolutely imperative.

Slack has been lauded as the fastest growing workplace software in history, with over 8 million users and counting. One of the many reasons for its widespread adoption is down to the constant evolution of the technology to support the teams it serves.

As business leaders all over the world are becoming more mindful about balancing human interaction with technology, the way we use Slack is morphing too.

Here are just a few ways that Slack enthusiasts are creating more human connections in the workplace:

Scheduling IRL chats

No one is dying to interact with a faceless name on a screen. And if you have somehow never had a conversation with one of your co-workers in real life, chances are slim that you will collaborate optimally.

According to Alivia Norwood of Bite, Slack’s App Director is full of resources to help prompt in-person meetings. For example, Donut is a bot that pairs teammates up for coffee (or donuts!) on a regular basis to promote deeper team relationships.

Having more face time between teammates usually inspires stronger collaboration and more opportunities for brainstorms.

Growing as a team

Empowering teammates with knowledge will always be a benefit to individuals and to the organization as a whole. If you agree, then check out Slack’s Bold app.

It is an internal publishing platform, where teams can post their thought leadership content and learn from one another. After all, deep knowledge and big ideas are meant to be shared.

Inspiring better teamwork

There are few things worse than feeling like you’re working alone—especially when you’re fielding numerous customer inquires, knowing that one wrong move could cause a disgruntled individual to take to social media, telling the world how much your company sucks.

Providing A-list customer service is a team effort—and Slack can help. For example, Vezt, a music marketplace, uses Slack to provide a temperature check on the quality of collaboration between teams and public stakeholders. This way, team members are always optimally informed and can feel confident that customers are getting the best service.

Creating healthier habits

Being glued to a computer screen can have negative effects on one’s health. So, why not use technology to help remind us of healthier habits?

“One of the most practical and productive utilities for our ecosystem is a Slackbot reminder set up every two hours to notify all of our staff to meaningfully breathe,” said Zach Suchin, CEO of Brand Knew.

Slackbots can be programmed to remind your team of any number of healthy habits, like taking a stretch break, drinking some water, or having a conversation with a co-worker. Making these kinds of small changes create a healthier environment for your team, which can lead to a massive boost in morale and productivity.

Instilling a culture of support

Everyone needs a little positive reinforcement and if you’re wise, you’ll work this into your everyday group interactions.

Slack’s Growbot app allows team members to congratulate one other on a job well done through emoji reactions. This is certainly a great way to support a culture of camaraderie—and you can even take it a step further with a little gamification. A tally of these positive messages can be kept and bonuses, like free Uber rides, can be awarded to the team member with the most.

As a society, we’re all still trying to find the right balance between technology and in-person conversations in the workplace. It’s certainly a creative process. But if we stay committed to getting the balance just right, we may use technology to create a level of humanity we never thought possible.

@MollStLouis Molly St. Louis is a freelance writer for Adweek.