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Friday Five: Keeping Your Workgroup Happy, Productive with Slack

Slack app iconIt’s the end of the week, but that doesn’t mean an end to learning more about your favorite Apple devices. Each week, the Friday Five takes a quick look at a Mac OS X or iOS app to point out five things you may have overlooked before.

One of the big surprise apps in the business world over the past two years has been Slack (free for evaluation or use in small workgroups, up to $12.50 per month per user for the Plus version), a surprisingly powerful cross-platform collaboration and messaging tool. Now you might think that your team is fine with email and the Messages app, but if that’s your thought about Slack, then you’re probably confused about what it does and just how powerful the tool is.

Workgroups as varied as the JPL Mars Pathfinder team, charity: water, and even a large group of Mac podcasters use Slack to ease communications both privately and publicly, swap files back and forth, and automatically grab information from other services so that users have just one app that they have to use for most of their work. Add to that power the ability to do this from OS X, iOS, Windows or even just a web browser, and you have a business powerhouse. A lot of the strength of Slack comes through integrations with other apps, most of which are free to add to your Slack workgroup.

Here are five ways that your team can become more productive and even happier through the use of Slack:

1.) Let your team feel the love with a Twitter channel
In many organizations, social media is handled by one person or team. As a result, those incoming messages from customers that can show your team how much their work is appreciated are often never seen by the people who would most benefit from them.

Adding the Twitter integration to Slack makes it easy for everyone on your team to see tweets that are sent to a particular Twitter account. This can be used not only to let the team get kudos for their work on a regular basis, but as a direct pipeline from customers to your team members with questions, suggestions, and feedback.

2.) Use Slack to reward peer-to-peer bonuses with Bonusly

Bonusly Slack integration
Image via

For many people, the rewards of working in a company don’t come from the annual review and raise; instead, they come from the recognition given by their peers that they’re doing a great job. Bonusly is a service that integrates directly with Slack and allows team members to reward each other with microbonuses (small cash rewards) for doing something above and beyond the usual day-to-day work.

Through the Bonusly integration in Slack, employees can see who is getting rewarded by their peers and add their voice to the acclaim. Managers can see who is considered to be outstanding by their peers, and use that to determine compensation and even larger rewards… even promotions.

3.) Bring remote workgroups and workers together through video conferencing
Today’s businesses often have employees and contractors scattered all around the world, so it can be difficult for people to feel that they’re part of a team or project. Why not make it possible for your employees or contractors to meet face to face at any time, anywhere through Slack and an integration with BlueJeans?

BlueJeans is more than just doing a video chat through FaceTime or Slack. It can leverage those expensive office-based video conference systems, or let people join in from their Mac, PC or iOS devices. Your chat can include dial-in numbers for those folks who might be driving during a meeting, calendar integration so that everyone is invited at the same time, and even recordings for employees who might miss a meeting because of other appointments.

Best of all, BlueJeans can be integrated directly into Slack, so that starting a face-to-face chat with another team member is as simple as typing in /bluejeans. That’s simple, and that’s a great way for your team to get together more often wherever they may be.

4.) Get a giggle with Giphy

Need to send a quick note to another team member, but you just can’t find the words to explain your emotions? Giphy is the world’s largest repository of GIF animations, and one of the first Slack integrations any team should add is the one for Giphy.

All you need to do is type /giphy and a key word, and you’ll get a randomly picked GIF that can say more in a few seconds than a long conversation. It’s also a great way to break tension during a busy or stressful time.

5.) Supply your team with fun or useful information… automatically
The final way to keep that team happy and productive is to keep them informed. As someone who worked in office buildings and data centers for 25 years, I know that it’s sometimes easy to lose track of such things as what the weather is like outside, how your organization is perceived by the public, or even when the boss is leaving or entering the area. In small or very busy organizations, there’s usually nobody who can just keep the team informed on what’s going on.

Slack and Weather integration through IFTTT

Slack’s integrations with IFTTT (IF This Then That) can be a way to automatically provide updates to your team. For example, using the integration with local weather in IFTTT can send updates out automatically on whether or not it’s going to snow tomorrow, or even provide forecasts to the team at regularly scheduled times. Want to know when the boss is coming back to the office? Get her to allow an integration with iOS location services through IFTTT that will send out a quick update to the entire team when she’s getting close to the office.

One team I know even uses IFTTT and Slack to send out birthday greetings to team members automatically. Once the recipient has been congratulated through the automatic “Happy Birthday”, most other team members seem to chime in quickly — and usually invite the birthday boy or girl to lunch!

Does your team use Slack? What ways have you found to keep your team informed, happy, and productive using this powerful collaboration tool? Let us know in the comments section below.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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