Connecting with coworkers over common goals and shared interests has always been one of the best parts about office life. But in the hybrid-remote workplace, team lunches, happy hours, off-site events and other opportunities to get to know colleagues are few and far between – if not replaced altogether by video conferences.
According to Slack’s Future Forum study of 10,000 knowledge workers, robust digital infrastructures will remain critical to boosting employees’ sense of belonging in a post-pandemic world. With Slack, coworkers can get to know each other beyond the daily grind, engage in team rituals, recognise each other’s hard work and celebrate each person’s unique point of view and contributions.
Whether your organisation has returned to the brick-and-mortar office, is fully remote or is a hybrid of both, here are a few ways you can use Slack to strengthen team connection.
Celebrate every win, no matter how big or small
When teams are juggling multiple projects and competing priorities, it can feel like all that hard work isn’t being seen or noticed by peers and team leaders. And when colleagues are working remotely, it’s especially common to feel overlooked – out of sight, out of mind.
Slack makes it easy to nurture a culture of peer recognition through acknowledging wins, birthdays and work anniversaries in public channels. It takes only a couple of quick steps to make these small but meaningful gestures of appreciation part of your team’s culture.
Automatically round up team shout-outs each week
When you’re in the thick of managing deadlines and deliverables, it’s easy to forget to share feedback and recognition in the moment. Let Slack be your team’s personal cheerleader, prompting everyone to celebrate the wins of the week each Friday.
First, choose any channel your team can use to crowdsource, share kudos and pile on reacji to celebrate a job well done (we use #marketing-team or #marketing-social). Next, set up Workflow Builder, a visual tool that lets anyone automate routine tasks right in Slack, with no coding required. With Workflow Builder, you can set up recurring messages that automatically prompt your team to give shout-outs, organised tidily in a thread. You can also use the /remind slash command so that Slackbot will send recurring reminders to your channel.
Looking to integrate peer recognition deeper into your team’s culture? Try apps that add a game-like dimension to promote engagement across the team, such as:
Strengthen community ties with channels and apps
Whether you’re a new starter or a seasoned employee, it’s common to feel out of touch with the people that you work with in a digital environment. Slack can help create ongoing social programmes that take the guesswork out of getting to know your teammates.
Automatically get connected to new teammates
If the scheduling of a Zoom chat to get to know that new hire keeps falling to the bottom of your to-do list, the Donut app can help. Donut introduces people who don’t know each other well on teams of all sizes via direct messages and encourages them to meet for a variety of purposes:
- Social: virtual coffee meetups, CEO coffee lotteries and lunch roulette
- Remote or hybrid employees: create remote team lunches, daily donut meetings and cross-department introductions
- Learning: run peer mentorship programmes and match code review pals or sales demo buddies
- Discussion groups: organise discussions on such topics as diversity, equity and inclusion, and support employee resource groups
- New hires: connect new hires through onboarding buddies, new-starter lunches or job shadowing
Set up a channel like #sales-virtual-coffee or even cross-department channels like #eng-meet-sales, and Donut will pair teammates via direct messages.
Not sure where to start the conversation with your Donut match? Add your favourite things to your Donut profile so the app can help you find common ground, sharing fun facts like favourite foods, hobbies and more.
‘Thanks to Donut, we’ve started erasing the potentially divisive lines between teams and departments and have kept people connected, despite the challenges that come with expanding around the world.’
Create opportunities to connect with execs in AMAs
When you understand how your work fits into the bigger picture, it’s easier to act with purpose and feel energised. Hosting a live ‘ask me anything’ (AMA) session in Slack creates a forum for your team to connect with executives. With a low-friction process of submitting questions directly in Slack, anyone is empowered to ask a question – no need to speak up on a video call.
McAfee is one organisation that uses AMA sessions so that the broader team can take a break from the day-to-day to recharge and learn about vision. More than 1,000 employees joined an #exec-ama channel to hear from an executive and get to know him on a deeper level.
‘Workflow Builder was so easy to use that our executive was able to self-moderate the entire AMA,’ says David Newell, the director of payments and retention data strategy at McAfee. ‘It was a great experience all around, especially for employees who submitted questions using the workflow.’
Intrigued? You can build your own AMA process using Workflow Builder. Create a private form for anyone to submit a question that you can automatically route to the AMA team. Once that team reviews the submissions – skipping redundant questions and prioritising what’s most relevant – they can post queries in an #exec-ama channel for the executive to answer in real time.
Cultivate rituals to keep your team connected over the distance
In Slack, you can carve out space for the team to stay connected on an ongoing basis – from sharing quick surveys to gauging team sentiment to bringing levity to your everyday work with social icebreakers. These everyday rituals boost team morale and establish better communication and trust, little by little, over time.
Keep a pulse on team sentiment with lightweight surveys
Trade long quarterly surveys for shorter, more frequent ones to get a sense of how the team is feeling at the moment. Try the Polly, Culture Amp or Officevibe apps for Slack to facilitate regular pulse checks, spot trends over time and take action to boost team morale sooner rather than later. These apps allow you to automate surveys to send out on a recurring basis.
‘Everyone loves [Polly’s] response rate and how easy it is to use, plus the convenience of having everything right in Slack,’ says Laura Zhang, the director of analytics at DraftKings. ‘Respondents save time, and it’s much easier for them.’
These pulse checks are most effective when you stick with three to five key questions. Don’t forget to make all responses anonymous to encourage candor.
Engage with your team beyond the day-to-day
Just because you’re working hard doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun together to break up the day. Bridge the social distance gap with fun icebreakers and conversation starters in Slack. It can be as simple as starting a #random channel where you can share GIFs, post pictures of pets, share articles and engage in less work-focused conversations.
With Donut, you can also automatically post conversation prompts in channels that encourage those serendipitous conversations (and friendly debates), whether about the latest TV show you’re watching or your go-to karaoke song.
Slack isn’t just for workday tasks; it’s a powerful collaboration tool that can help teams nurture culture and camaraderie. At a time when we’re all craving more connection, knowing our colleagues a little bit better goes a long way toward workplace satisfaction.
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