Bring outsiders into your team’s workspace with guest access and shared channels

Simplify the way you collaborate with freelancers, agencies and external companies

By the team at SlackApril 12th, 2019Illustration by Pete Ryan

Slack improves how companies communicate inside their own walls, but when it comes to working with outside partners, we often fall back on other methods, like phone calls and emails. That means more inboxes to manage, conversations that aren’t searchable or shareable in Slack, and barriers to getting work done quickly.

Thankfully, there are ways any company using Slack can work with freelancers, agencies and outside firms to not only shorten distances but communicate in real time and complete projects faster. Here’s a primer on how to grant Slack guest access via single- and multi-channel accounts and shared channels.

Invite individual guests to specific project channels

For every paid Slack plan, administrators can add up to five single-channel guests for every member of their existing team, free of charge. If you create channels for every project in your firm, use the single-channel guest feature to let in specialized outside individuals, like contractors, interns and clients.

Slack guest access is limited to just one channel, so you don’t have to worry about them seeing details from other parts of your organization. They’re free to scroll up through a channel and see the entire project history before they were added. You can even add a time limit on their accounts if it’s a short-term project need.

Common use cases for single-channel Slack guest access include:

  1. Inviting an accountant into a #finance channel to share quarterly sales reports
  2. Adding IT contractors to a #help-tech channel, where they can solve employees’ technical issues
  3. Cloud services inviting a customer to a private channel, along with an account manager and technical support staff, to provide customer support
  4. Inviting photographers, videographers, animators and illustrators into project channels, where they can receive real-time feedback

When your most prolific outside contributors need to participate in additional channels, you can add them to your workspace as a multi-channel guest. Like single-channel guests, they’ll be able to access only the channels they’re invited to; however, multi-channel guests are billed as full-fledged users.

Connect companies directly using shared channels

Let’s say your team has just hired a creative agency to help produce a series of television ads. You could make a channel for the video ad project and bring in a few individuals as single-channel guests (or vice versa if they use Slack as well). But now there’s a better option for paid Slack teams: shared channels.

A client and supplier working in a shared private channel

With shared channels, two organizations can collaborate in real time through a single project channel that’s accessible from each respective workspace. Each side can then add or remove specialists as necessary to deliver their work.

Sticking with our creative-agency example, a shared channel allows writers and designers to upload their scripts and storyboards, marketing leads to approve early edits, and project managers from both companies to monitor the channel as video producers upload the final cut.

How shared channels can simplify work for freelancers and consultants

Instead of joining multiple Slack teams as a guest (only to lose the conversations, context and information when the work is complete), freelancers and consultants can create a single-member paid Slack team to organize all their projects.

Future clients using Slack can connect with you in any number of shared channels, where both parties can access that information. You’ll share drafts and mockups, incorporate real-time feedback, and send final deliverables that either team can search at any time.

Working with varied teams of freelancers, consultants and other agencies can be complicated, but if you keep it all organized in Slack, your conversations with clients can happen as smoothly as with your on-site coworkers. You’ll make decisions quickly when everyone involved can share direct access to information around projects and complete your work together.

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