Staying active while traveling is a challenge César Carvalho knew all too well: During his consulting years in Brazil, his busy schedule made it near impossible to exercise unless he paid for multiple memberships in several cities. This led him to create Gympass, a platform that gives companies and their employees 50% to 70% off a global network of fitness studios, digital workouts, and mental health and nutrition services.
By 2017, Gympass had seen steady growth since its founding in 2012. Employees were working in multiple markets across three continents and needed a centralized tool that could scale with the company and meet security requirements. “When choosing our messaging platform, it was important that it be collaborative, fun to work with, intuitive and customizable,” says Ralf Aigner, the CEO of Gympass Germany. That November, Gympass introduced Slack as its official communication tool for both internal employees and external partners and stakeholders. “Slack was exactly what we needed to take communication at Gympass to a new level. The implementation led to a quick sense of achievement, and the employees were enthusiastic from the very beginning,” Aigner says. “I’m personally a big fan of the intuitive user experience.”
Gympass is now the world’s largest corporate fitness solution, offering users access to 50,000 gyms and studios in 14 countries and more than 7,000 cities. The company has a market value of over $1 billion.
“Slack was exactly what we needed to take communication at Gympass to a new level. The implementation led to a quick sense of achievement, and the employees were enthusiastic from the very beginning. I’m personally a big fan of the intuitive user experience.”
Communicating efficiently as the company scaled
In its early days, Gympass relied on emails to exchange sensitive data, and Skype or WhatsApp for fast communication. But the disparate systems quickly became confusing, and email led to siloed communication. If new employees weren’t added to the right distribution lists, they were forced to waste valuable time tracking down important information. Without a secure space to collaborate, employees were unable to share sensitive data quickly and transparently. The company’s rapid growth only compounded the problem.
Now all new Gympass employees start in Slack, which grants them instant access to relevant information previously buried in emails. With full context and insight into the company, they can jump straight into their team’s day-to-day.
Channel-based communication in Slack
Teams at Gympass work across a variety of Slack channels, virtual spaces to share messages, documents and information. Over 1,000 employees use more than 2,000 open Slack channels, sending 7,000 messages every day to exchange information and facilitate workflows. Teams leverage channels to coordinate projects, stay connected between locations and departments, and facilitate quick-turnaround tasks, like planning events. Each market has its own channel, such as #team-germany and #gympass-usa, and employees spin up new channels to collaborate with critical stakeholders and discuss cross-team topics. If a problem with a particular user account occurs, for example, account managers and the support team can quickly come together. This real-time problem-solving empowers teams to resolve issues in a way that was not previously possible with email.
“It was important for us to find a tool that supported our goal of breaking down information silos and ensuring communication transparency,” Aigner says. “It also had to be a leading company and a pioneer in digital transformation. Slack met all these requirements.”
“It was important for us to find a tool that supported our goal of breaking down information silos and ensuring communication transparency. It also had to be a leading company and a pioneer in digital transformation. Slack met all these requirements.”
Strengthening culture, camaraderie and collaboration
Slack’s ability to connect Gympass teams across time zones has strengthened the culture companywide. Slack channels like #teamgermany allow leadership to share product updates, celebrate successes and recognize special team achievements. “The corporate and worldwide collaboration of our employees in Slack has opened up many new opportunities in terms of team building,” says Aigner. “We’re particularly pleased about this, as one of our corporate values is constructive cooperation and teamwork. This is one of the most important building blocks for our success.”
Integrations make teamwork even easier. “The joint and simultaneous editing of documents via Google Drive directly in Slack is a great advantage, especially in high-pressure, time-sensitive situations,” Aigner says. “In addition to Google Drive, integrations such as Asana or the Google Calendar are essential.” He notes that the opportunity to use custom emoji lightens up the working atmosphere and enriches the team’s daily routines. “It’s not only fun, but it promotes creativity and a sense of community.”
Slack also offers employees a way to communicate in a more direct and personal way. “After a very short time in Slack, I realized I didn’t really know my colleagues that well because I had only connected with them via telephone or email,” Aigner says. “Now I know everyone better.”
"The global collaboration of our employees in Slack has opened up lots of new opportunities for team building."
Using Slack Connect to connect with partners and maintain sales continuity
Gympass uses Slack Connect to reduce complexity and communicate in channels with external partners, like PR agencies. Stakeholders can quickly coordinate across company lines and effortlessly share links, graphics and files. “With Slack, we’re able to ensure smooth communication not only within the entire company but also with partners and agencies,” Aigner says. “This is particularly important to maintaining efficient working relationships as we continue to grow.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the sales team could no longer offer a product that encouraged in-person interactions, they kept the business moving forward with Slack Connect. Working remotely via Slack, teams at Gympass collaborated across departments to create a new product in just two weeks: streaming fitness classes online. The sales team then leveraged Slack Connect to facilitate discussions with gym partners worldwide and communicate the new option to each partner in their respective channels. These channels are used everyday with partners to address account-specific issues and ensure a seamless implementation during onboarding on the product side.
Internally, sales teams streamline administrative tasks and communicate quickly and transparently about each partner in Slack channels. Leveraging the Salesforce for Slack integration, they can see a holistic snapshot of any client in seconds and input relevant call notes, documents and conversations directly from Slack into Salesforce. This also accelerates routine processes like approving special conditions for a partner: Reps can simply mention executives right in the Slack channel for speedy approval.
For Aigner and the entire Gympass team, he says, “Slack has led to an improvement in the corporate culture, a feeling of closeness to colleagues and teams in other locations, and a completely new form of cooperation that was not possible before.” Slack is the collaboration hub that enables Gympass to bring fitness opportunities to anyone, anywhere—even at home.