In March of last year—amid the confusion and chaos of a newly declared pandemic—knowledge workers picked up their tools and ways of working and moved from the office to the home. We had no idea of the challenges that were in store, personally and professionally.
At the time, I thought we would be working from home for a few weeks. I was focused on sustaining our team’s well-being and productivity—especially the kind of collaborative, messy and creative work required for product development. But by the end of April, I knew that this was going to be our new normal.
Looking back, I’m impressed at how quickly our team adapted. We faced the same problems everyone was facing, and we began adjusting—made easier because we were already all-in on Slack. While many industries were painfully impacted, others have had the opportunity to adapt and accelerate their progress: According to our Remote Employee Experience Index, knowledge workers’ productivity has increased over the past year. They even better managed work-related stress, were more satisfied with their working arrangements and felt they had a better work-life balance. As a result, more than 8 in 10 knowledge workers do not want to return to the office full-time. The future of work is clear: it must be hybrid and asynchronous.
“A year into the global pandemic, there is near universal agreement that flexible working models—accommodating different locations and schedules—have proven to be better and more productive than most would have imagined possible.”
83% want a combination of office and remote work, or full-time remote
We have all felt that one of the biggest challenges with distributed and flexible work has been a loss of belonging and connection to our colleagues.
Endless video meetings, rigid schedules, fewer opportunities to connect with colleagues and diminished time for focused work have been a big part of the problem. I find myself more drained and exhausted at the end of each day.
Slack has helped many companies transition to remote work, but employees need greater flexibility in when and how they communicate. They need tools for greater engagement with colleagues inside their organization and partners outside the “walls” of their organization.
At Slack, we realized we needed to stop trying to replicate the way we worked in the office and instead build tools to enable new ways of working.
Encouraging serendipity with lightweight audio
Last year, we began prototyping and experimenting with a more ad hoc, spontaneous, audio-first way of communicating. We quickly piloted with customers to see if we could reimagine impromptu hallway conversations—where a few people chatting could lead to a team discussion and help unblock an idea. It took off at Slack and now, too, with our customers piloting it.
We believe this will lead to better work, bring more of a human touch to our office connections, and help teams spark innovation.
“It’s much easier than spinning up a meeting, and much more lightweight!”
Replacing meetings with asynchronous video
If ad hoc audio communication is the hallway chat of this new future, then we need a replacement for meetings that don’t need to be scheduled and on video. We need to reduce team fatigue while improving belonging. To help with this, we are piloting ways to shift meetings toward an asynchronous video experience that feels native in Slack. It allows us to express nuance and enthusiasm, without a meeting.
We’ll replace countless person hours per year of unnecessary meetings with rich video-based discussions that can be shared across time zones. They will be more inclusive of those with different communication styles, and create an accessible video archive. It’s the flexibility globally distributed teams will need for the hybrid remote future.
At Slack, we are using asynchronous video to educate our sales teams on upcoming releases. Instead of inviting product managers to attend four different live sessions with sales reps globally and repeat the content, we can accept questions as messages or videos in the same thread. Everyone can see the answer.
Collaborating across companies with Slack Connect
Deepening engagement with colleagues inside our organization is a part of the solution. But none of us work in a bubble—we need to connect the entirety of our working lives. We launched Slack Connect last year and saw incredible growth during the pandemic because our customers and their customers, partners and vendors thought it was such a valuable tool. It brought the same secure, productive collaboration of Slack to all relationships.
Over 74,000 paid customers are using Slack Connect, up from over 64,000 at the end of last quarter.
On my team, we use it for gathering customer feedback on new releases and features we’re piloting. By communicating directly with external partners the same way we communicate internally, we can move faster, create a better product and deepen our relationships with our customers.
Over 660,000 connected endpoints on Slack Connect, up 245% year-over-year.
Businesses that use Slack Connect:
- 4x faster close in deals for a sales team
- 64% decrease in backlog tickets for a customer support team
- 2x faster close in company acquisition for a business development team
“You can tell when there’s energy in a relationship—and the deal—and it’s hard to get that over email. It used to be in person and over text and phone. Now it’s Slack Connect.”
Message securely with anyone using Slack Connect DM
To help people work in new ways, we need to make it even easier to connect with less friction. Our customers have told us that they want to replace email and SMS for all of the work they do outside their organization. Today, we’re announcing the ability to send secure direct messages across organizations with anyone, including those not yet on Slack.
It’s a faster, more lightweight way to kick off conversations and start relationships than email. It brings partners closer to colleagues and the tools in Slack to help get work done. We expect most initial business conversations to end with, “Connect with me on Slack.”
It will be an easier way to develop richer, deeper and more lasting relationships.A product manager sends a Slack Connect direct message to a customer, following a feedback call
“Being able to direct-message anyone in Slack is going to jump-start new customer connections, enabling us to kick off sales opportunities and start critical conversations earlier.”
A better way of working
At Slack, we didn’t envision a pandemic of this magnitude or the disruptions it would cause to our work lives. This past year has been difficult for so many people, and we think we can help make our customers’ working lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive.
Learn more about Slack Connect and how to reinvent the way your team works: