Slack — A Tool for Digitally Networked Teams

Slack — A Tool for Digitally Networked Teams

Digitally networked teams are a regular feature of today’s business world. As customers become more demanding, companies need to respond rapidly to change. Mobile access to information anytime and anywhere is essential to this approach, as it creates efficient working practices and quick solutions. It’s the only way to stay competitive.

We use this flexible workplace model here at ETECTURE. It enables our employees to do more than just work from home occasionally. It supports our agile methods in project work and makes it easier for colleagues to retain a central overview. Digital availability of content also makes coordination cycles much leaner.

The ability to view the current status in real time makes it clear what has been achieved, although failures are conspicuous too. Digitally networked teams value this transparency and the ability to find solutions together.

There is an extensive range of networking tools on the market. We generally try out new tools quite frequently at ETECTURE. Many colleagues install new tools and then forget that they exist and are on their computers ready to use. A new tool therefore needs to make a real impression.

And Slack did just that. Slack quickly became the default communication tool for Dirk Ziegener, Operations Director at the ETECTURE branch in Düsseldorf. Why?
“Because of the ligatures!” he says with a wink. “Slack is a chat program that supports good typography. Any product developed with so much attention to detail is sure to be a joy to use. I am proud to support a tool like this. Right from the start, I was also impressed with how easy it is to share images. For example, you can quickly take a screenshot while you are chatting, paste it into Slack and continue the discussion without interruption. That really speeds up communication,” says the native of Cologne, who was still working in Frankfurt when he started using Slack. Slack also provided a practical solution to the problem of mobile communication. You can start a chat on your work computer, continue by iPhone on the train, and then wrap up the conversation on your computer at home. Slack makes this easy — it really is an incredible tool.

Dirk Ziegener also introduced Slack to his new ETECTURE team in Düsseldorf last year, and it was very warmly received. Projects are organized into separate channels, and you can invite external partners, services providers, or customers to join. It has generally worked very well, although some people initially had trouble getting to grips with this form of communication. Colleagues have frequently voiced concerns that they need to keep the chat window open at all times and read every message to ensure they don’t miss anything. A helpful feature in this respect is the option of addressing users in the chat directly, so that you are made aware of the conversation via a notification.

More than 25 people have registered for the Slack account at ETECTURE Düsseldorf, many of whom are single-channel and restricted users. The team finds the option of inviting users to join a single project channel, free of charge, extremely convenient and makes regular use of this feature. This results in substantial cost savings.

Slack really only causes problems when the discussions in the channel progress too quickly due to a high number of active participants. In this case, even the highly effective search function will not work, and users run the risk of missing important information. This is particularly problematic if Slack is being used instead of email for information with long-term relevance. Problems can easily occur when agreements or decisions are made in a channel and there is no evidence to indicate who, if anyone, has read the message. Consequently, although Slack has replaced a great many emails that now no longer need to be sent by the ETECTURE team in Düsseldorf, there are still certain situations where important information needs to be documented and an email is preferable.

Slack has therefore fully established itself as a digital collaboration tool at our Düsseldorf office and is now also being used increasingly by the teams based in Frankfurt and Karlsruhe. The need and desire to share knowledge increases the sense of unity throughout the team.

Dirk — addicted to Slack since February 2014
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