Last week I talked a little about some of the tools that are excellent for remote collaboration, one of which was Slack, a well-known messaging app for teams that allows us to leave email behind once and for all. Slack’s stunning user interface and simple onboarding experience makes it insanely easy for teams to dive right into it, as if they’ve been doing it every day for a decade. But here’s the catch:
Some have said that Slack is so awesome for communication that teams find themselves chatting all day long, destroying productivity due to the influx of countless messages.
But we can reduce the amount of messages, even entire conversations, with the use of integrations. Slack can integrate with the apps and services that your team already uses, bringing notifications, task management and imported media into the context of the conversation. By increasing the value of your messages you can complete tasks and solve issues much quicker.
1. Cure Indecisiveness with Simple Poll
It can be difficult to read the room when none of the team is actually in the room, but Simple Poll fixes that by curing indecisiveness and eliminating “I don’t mind” responses from the conversation.
Rather than debating an issue to the death, Simple Poll can collect responses with a simple slash command. Just type /poll “Poll question?” “Option1” “Option2” “Option3” into the conversation.
2. Explain Yourself Better with Screenhero
Screenhero is a screen sharing app that aids collaboration by offering voice chat and multiple mouse cursors. Never again will you need to worry about explaining yourself — show them instead! Screenhero was originally an independent app, but has since been acquired by Slack itself, allowing you to craft emails, paircode, edit videos, or pretty much work in any application — together — on Windows or Mac.
Just type /hero @username in Slack to start a session!
3. Search All Links Shared in Slack with Kifi
Kifi keeps a complete record of all links shared in Slack. Simply type /kifi search term to instantly find the web address you’re looking for; this is especially useful for recovering links to Dropbox or Google Drive files — no need to bother the original sharer of the link!
4. Develop Deeper Bonds with Your Team Using Humblebot
Humblebot teaches you how to be a better teammate — in Slack. It’s a friendly robot (also known as a Slackbot) that sends you messages every morning, reminding you to send someone else a thank you or to ask for their opinion.
According to Humblebot, you can start to see results in as little as a week, and become a wonderful human being in the process!
5. Examine Team Happiness Levels with Officevibe
Officevibe’s Leo Bot can do wonders for collaboration and team happiness as well, but in a slightly different way. Leo is also a Slackbot, but instead it asks team members (privately) how things are going at work, and encourages the team to become closer through fun activities.
Answers to Leo’s questions are then sent to human office managers who can then address your issues and concerns. Essentially, Leo is like a hugely helpful Human Resources intern — and robot.
6. Manage Tasks with Wunderlist
Wunderlist is a dead-simple collaborative task management app that can (optionally) integrate with Slack. Figuring out what needs to be done and assigning team members to those tasks usually requires some discussion beforehand, so the ability to add, remove and mark tasks as “done” inline with the conversation is massively useful. It also means that you don’t switch windows as often, or at all — if you’re a manager for example, you could quite literally control your entire team from within Slack.
Here’s the two main forward-slash commands you need:
- View tasks: /wunderlist tasks
- Add task: /wunderlist add [your task]
- See all commands: /wunderlist help
7. Collaborate on a Whiteboard with Sketchboard
Sketchboard lets you draw diagrams on a collaborative whiteboard — use /sketch [whiteboard name] to start a session, which opens up a fresh whiteboard within Slack where you can see what your teammates are drawing in real-time (like Google Docs). After that you can transfer the sketch back to the Slack channel as an image attachment.
It’s fantastic for collaboration, or for single-handedly explaining what you mean using more than words, which is sometimes quite necessary when your team members are continents apart!
Slack integrations can undoubtably help your team communicate and collaborate better. In fact, these seven integrations are only the tip of the iceberg and you can even build your own integrations, tweaking your team’s productivity to the max by adopting a unique workflow.
Further reading for custom integrations:
Jump Start Git, 2nd Edition
Visual Studio Code: End-to-End Editing and Debugging Tools for Web Developers
Form Design Patterns