Teams eliminate busy work with Slack
Collaboration

How to cut down on busywork, grow smarter, and brave economic uncertainty

Small businesses share how they’re focusing on simplifying communication to stay organized, save time, and get more done with what they already have

By the team at SlackDecember 12th, 2022Illustration by Pete Ryan

Freedom, flexibility and time: these are high on the wish list of any small-business owner or entrepreneur. To help you embrace all three, we’ve condensed highlights from interviews with small-business owners into a series on how they’re embracing Slack to scale smarter, brave economic uncertainty, and improve collaboration to get more done.

Next up: how three such businesses leverage Slack to simplify work and enhance their bottom line in spite of current macroeconomic conditions.

Collaborate in one space for productive communication

A third-party logistics company offering one-hour and same-day delivery services in Ohio, Xtreme Express grew from just four drivers in 2014 to 160 employees, using 70 vehicles every day, around the clock.

Customer service and reliability set Xtreme apart, but getting to this point wasn’t easy, especially within a tech-lagard industry. Early on, the company’s process of managing schedules and deliveries over text and email wasn’t sustainable. “As we grew, we realized we had a communication problem,” says Andrew Cost, Xtreme Express’s safety and compliance director.

After assessing all available options, Cost found the solution. “With Slack, we can communicate more efficiently across the company, and have seen a huge uptick in response time for all our day-to-day issues,” he says. “We received the exact results we needed with Slack.”

With channels, Xtreme manages its offices’ end-to-end deliveries and addresses on-the-road challenges. It has even integrated its operations platform, Samsara, directly with Slack to stay compliant. By replacing siloed text and email chains with emoji, DMs and threads, Xtreme has sped up collaboration regardless of whether a manager is at a desk, in a warehouse or on the road.

Andrew Cost, Safety and Compliance Director, Xtreme Express

“With Slack, we can communicate more effectively and efficiently across the company, and have seen a huge uptick in response time for all our day-to-day issues. We received the exact results we needed with Slack.”

Andrew CostSafety and Compliance Director, Xtreme Express

Make the most of your time, and increase efficiency

With small businesses operating lean across staff, resources and budgets, it’s vital to reduce actions that don’t drive business forward. Calm Company Fund, an early-stage investor in sustainable startups around the world, recognizes that work on investment projects can’t stop when one time zone hits 5 p.m. Calm’s fully remote and asynchronous team, situated across seven time zones, is constantly getting work done.

“Slack is our hub,” says Sibi Murugesan, the company’s chief of staff. “We use it with integrations, to handle onboarding, promote culture, and keep things transparent.” Best of all, Calm invites all the portfolio companies it invests in to connect through Slack for real-time engagement.

Slack Connect lets you add external partners and customers to your company’s Slack channels to speed up projects, strengthen relationships and make faster decisions. Calm uses Slack Connect to securely collaborate with agencies and co-producers for limited amounts of time. Everyone has access to the same files and essential tools, which saves time and prevents people from having to switch contexts.

“Slack is our hub. We use it with integrations, to handle onboarding, promote culture, and keep things transparent.”

Sibi MurugesanChief of Staff, Calm Company Fund

Work how you work best for greater flexibility

Virtual Dining Concepts (VDC), a forward-thinking addition to the hospitality industry, helps restaurant owners and operators maximize their existing space and generate extra revenue through delivery-only solutions. Over three years, the company has grown from a handful of individuals to nearly 50 people who work with more than 3,000 restaurants across North America and the U.K. Employees still maintain their startup drive, wearing various hats across sales, customer service, marketing and other teams.

The company’s greatest challenge is ensuring that its dispersed team has the most up-to-date information. VDC uses Slack to triage issues and move quickly. For instance, if a sales representative is on the phone with a restaurant partner, the rep can message their team in Slack and get an immediate answer to a question, quickly allaying the partner’s concerns.

As with many small businesses, VDC’s work is not confined to a conference room. Colleagues are often on the road, in the kitchen, or meeting with chefs and restaurateurs, making flexible ways of working crucial. Co-founder and president Robbie Earl has increased transparency, modeled work-life balance, and set the tone for the entire organization through his own use of Slack, including status updates, Do Not Disturb settings, and posts in-channel.

“Immediate communication is vital to VDC,” says Earl. “Things constantly evolve, from new brands to new market partners, marketing initiatives, pricing updates, menu items, and supply chain issues. Slack chats, channels and threads enables us to address them all.”

Robbie Earl, President and co-founder, VDC

“Immediate communication is vital to VDC. Things constantly evolve, from new brands to new market partners, marketing initiatives, pricing updates, menu items, and supply chain issues. Slack chats, channels and threads enables us to address them all.”

Robbie EarlPresident and co-founder, VDC

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, “How three growing businesses hone collaboration to get more done,” coming soon.

Note: Sections of this blog post were originally published in Inc., Fast Company and other media outlets.

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