Colleagues huddling together to collaborate
Collaboration

Companies are moving work forward with new coworking capabilities in huddles

T-Mobile, Expedia Group, Xero and Slalom are saving time, finding efficiencies and strengthening relationships with huddles

By the team at SlackSeptember 20th, 2022Illustration by Abbey Lossing

With 66% of knowledge workers working in remote or hybrid environments, informal discussions and working sessions that used to take place in the office now need to happen in a digital space. From resolving complex issues on the fly to brainstorming a creative task or checking in on colleagues, teams need new, flexible ways to move work forward efficiently.

Enter Slack huddles, the fastest-adopted feature in Slack history. Huddles re-create informal discussions you miss from the office with a click of a button. They’re a digital-first way to hold those casual hallway chats or quick discussions with a deskmate. With the average huddle lasting just about 10 minutes, they’ve helped teams save countless minutes every day, maximizing productivity across the team.

At Slack’s annual user conference earlier this year, we announced new coworking capabilities coming to huddles. And today at Dreamforce, we’re celebrating the general availability of coworking in huddles. All users will have access to these new capabilities in the coming weeks.

  • Lightweight video with one click: Huddles can be kicked off in any channel or DM—but will now include the ability to turn on video to bring your full, expressive self to the conversation.
  • Multiperson screen sharing, drawing and cursors: More than one person can screen-share at the same time, and anyone can direct focus with live cursors and drawing. Made for more than just presenting, huddles unlocks true coworking.
  • Your favorite emoji, reactions and stickers work in huddles: There’s no shortage of fun with emoji, effects and “stickers” in huddles. Use them to co-sign a great idea, celebrate a colleague’s win, share a well-timed joke—anything you want, really!
  • Message threading automatically saves to the channel: Information shared during a huddle—including links, files and notes—gets automatically saved in the channel or DM where the huddle was started. This provides teammates with a useful trail of key decisions and next steps, whether they were in the huddle or not.

 

Throughout the development process, we brought along customers to pilot and co-create these capabilities with us. Each organization found new and innovative ways to drive alignment and increase productivity with huddles. Here are just a few examples of how they did it.

Expedia Group is investing in collaboration to increase productivity

The key to success at Expedia Group is collaboration. In fact, Expedia Group has an entire product team dedicated to optimizing collaboration tools for its 20,000 global employees, with huddles as a key part of their collaboration strategy. Anthony Rivera, a product manager for collaboration at Expedia Group, says that after piloting the new features in huddles, he’s enthusiastic about them rolling out more broadly across the company to create more opportunities to work together.

“We have over 40,000 Slack channels and 220-plus Slack Connect channels. The new capabilities in huddles introduce new ways for teams at Expedia Group to collaborate where they are already working: in Slack,” Rivera says. ”When our teams start using the new huddles capabilities, I expect to see deeper, more spontaneous collaboration take place across the organization. Productivity depends on collaboration, and anytime we can enhance productivity for our organization without increasing the budget or introducing new tools, we’ll be more successful.”

Rather than scheduling a meeting and sending out invites, teams at Expedia Group can seamlessly transition to discussion in a channel—which has all of the context and team members needed—into a huddle for live coworking.

Anthony Rivera, Product Manager for Collaboration, Expedia Group

“With the new huddles features, I expect to see deeper, more spontaneous collaboration take place across the organization. Productivity depends on collaboration, and anytime we can enhance productivity for our organization, without increasing the budget or introducing new tools, we’ll be more successful.”

Anthony RiveraProduct Manager for Collaboration, Expedia Group

Xero is speeding up incident resolution

When technical issues arise within an organization—as they inevitably do—Xero is prepared. The New Zealand–based company provides accounting software for over 3 million subscribers in more than 180 countries.

Since 2017, Xero has been using Slack’s dedicated channels and app integrations, such as PagerDuty and Jira, to respond to incidents in real time. Now, by bringing discussions into huddles, teams at Xero can more quickly swarm to identify root causes and identify next steps.

“The new huddles features are significant tools for incident management,” says Grant Foster, a team lead of People Systems at Xero. “Incidents move very quickly, with people constantly hopping in and out of channels. Conducting huddles in a channel, taking notes in the message thread, and then continuing to work asynchronously on the incident in the same huddle thread will help us track progress and next steps while keeping the whole incident team aligned and informed.”

Grant Foster, Team Lead, People Systems, Xero

“Huddles help us be more dynamic, make decisions on the fly, and speed up the entire resolution process.”

Grant FosterTeam Lead, People Systems, Xero

Slalom is making daily standups more efficient (and pleasant too)

In theory, standup meetings are quick, effective ways for a team to align on the day ahead. In practice, they don’t always capture everyone’s attention and often run long.

Slalom, a global consultancy, revitalized its daily standups by switching from formal video calls to huddles. Huddles add practical value to the experience—like the option to be on or off video depending on the meeting, using threads to automatically capture notes in-channel, and the ability to name a huddle so team members can decide whether or not they need to join.

Huddles also foster the sense of community Slalom is looking for. Teammates love that they can respond to a comment with their favorite emoji and celebrate a team win with an animated reaction.

“The new huddles features promote more of a natural, carefree conversation that’s great for building camaraderie, checking in with my colleagues, and starting the day on a good note,” says Kevin Rosario, a principal consultant at Slalom. “Foundationally growing that trust and understanding within your team is the first step in ensuring your team succeeds, no matter the type of work.”

Beyond bringing efficiencies to daily standups and a sense of cohesiveness to team chats, Slalom has found that the greatest value of using huddles is in reducing context switching. Staying within Slack and pressing one button to begin a huddle to “drop by” on colleagues has been pivotal.

“The new huddles features promote more of a natural, carefree conversation that’s great for building camaraderie, checking in with my colleagues, and starting the day on a good note.”

Kevin RosarioPrincipal Consultant, Slalom

T-Mobile is cutting down on meetings

Slack is deeply ingrained in T-Mobile, with over 109,000 users, 170,000 active channels, 45,000 workflows and 9 million emoji reactions used per month. But its employees’ favorite feature to unlock efficiency? Huddles.

Tamara Jensen, a principal technical product manager at T-Mobile, focuses on driving efficiency across the entire organization. One strategy has been to encourage teams to cut down on meetings. With Slack, the company has achieved this in spades. Colleagues use channels to organize their work, workflows to streamline business-critical processes, and clips to share asynchronous updates.

However, sometimes work is complex and requires the right minds to come together to solve problems in real time. This is where huddles comes in. Instead of waiting days or even weeks for an open calendar slot, teammates can jump into a spontaneous huddle to discuss blockers, brainstorm ideas and resolve escalated issues right away.

“If you need to have a conversation, you’re not going to schedule it with a calendar; you’re going to stay in Slack,” says Jensen. “With huddles, we can look at each other on video. We can thread the conversation. We can share screens at the same time as our colleagues. Huddles keeps teams moving, with work in one place.”

Tamara Jensen, Principal Technical Product Manager, T-Mobile

“If you need to have a conversation, you’re not going to schedule it with a calendar; you’re going to stay in Slack. With huddles, we can look at each other on video. We can thread the conversation. We can screen share at the same time as our colleagues. Huddles keeps teams moving, with work in one place.”

Tamara JensenPrincipal Technical Product Manager, T-Mobile

Learn how to get the most out of your digital HQ at Dreamforce

As organizations continue to embrace hybrid and remote-first work environments, it’s imperative for company leaders to adopt innovative ways to stay efficient and productive. That’s why Slack, in partnership with Salesforce, is continuing to rethink how to work better together in the digital HQ. Want to learn more? Tune into Dreamforce 2022 to find solutions to today’s toughest workplace challenges and help your team get the most out of your digital HQ.

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