CIO Cheatcodes - Establishing Slack Etiquette For Your Team

Sep 20, 2022


John Ostler - CoFounder of Eight Bit Studios

Slack was the most disruptive communication tool we made it our job to change the way we use the tool as a collective so that it works FOR us rather than against us

Teams have a love/hate relationship with Slack. While it removes the need to spend time in email and in lengthy meetings, it also introduces the source of continuous interruption and distraction from focused work. In addition, for many managers or project leads, Slack is the only source of accountability with a remote workforce causing members of the team to constantly check the tool throughout the day. 

In our research with the @Eight bit Studios team, we learned that Slack was the most disruptive communication tool in our belt. We made it our job to change the way we use the tool as a collective so that it works FOR us rather than against us. With that, we established not rules, but etiquette for how we use the tool. These were tips and guidelines that if everyone followed, we could get back to focus while still reducing the number of meetings and emails in our organization. Today, we’re sharing this list so that you can use it and adapt it to work best for your organization. If you have additional thoughts or comments or edits, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

Presume they won’t see the message unless you @ them

When writing in a public channel, the responsibility should always lie with the sender to make sure the message is received (@person, @here, @channel), so there’s no need for team members to scroll through irrelevant messages, just in case something was meant for them.

Note: Use @here when it is: actionable, time-sensitive, or specific to an individual(s)

Don’t be afraid to mute public channels

Focus on work as the chat won’t appear as emboldened and there won’t be a tempting red badge on your desktop icon – unless you receive a mention, a message in a private channel, or a direct message.

Keep evenings, weekends and vacations free from Slack requests

If it’s urgent, e.g. the server is down or there’s a critical bug, establish a policy where you’ll text or call the relevant person instead. This way, no one needs to feel obligated to check Slack over evenings and vacations, knowing that anything important would’ve been communicated over the phone.

Note: Some Contractors may choose to work in these time slots.

Turn @here Slack requests into actionable, time-sensitive, or Individual tasks

To ensure that whatever you’ve asked for is logged and properly followed up on, make sure that all Slack requests are turned into something actionable, e.g. by creating a task or calendar event.

When focusing, try Do-Not-Disturb mode

If a teammate sends you a message during that time, they’ll receive a message from Slackbot telling them that you’re on DND. Slack offers the option to notify you anyway, meaning urgent messages can still be communicated.

Pro Tip: Use your status to let others know when you'll be slowwww to respond

Marie Kondo your sidebar

Cut down on what’s shown in your Slack sidebar by editing your settings to only show starred channels, those that have pending mentions and direct messages.

Changes can be made via Preferences > Sidebar > Sidebar settings

When we’re not building custom software solutions for enterprise teams, we’re helping enterprise teams better work with the tools they already use. Hopefully, a few of these guidelines will help you think about the etiquette not just for slack, but all the tools your organizations uses to communicate and collaborate. If you have tips, adjustments, or things to add to this list that your team has emplored, please add them in the comments below!