In October 2019, Slack opened its first German office in Munich. What has happened over the past 12 months? How did we experience the pandemic? What successes have we seen? As the head of Slack Germany, here is my take on the answers to these questions.
Growth in challenging times
It’s been almost a year since I was on the road for Slack for the first time at the DMEXCO marketing conference in Cologne. I was standing in line at a sausage stand when a lady tapped me on the shoulder after seeing the Slack badge on my lapel. “Excuse me, you work for Slack?” she asked. “We work with Slack at our company and I love it,” she added. As it turned out, she worked for a leading German travel portal. Even though I was new to the company, I already clearly understood that people have a very special connection to Slack.
Since that engagement, and Slack’s launch in Germany, we have grown the Munich team to around two dozen employees. Because we closed our offices worldwide and began working totally remotely in March, a significant number of our people were recruited and onboarded virtually. Slack was critical to us at this time, as it allowed us to organize and collaborate effectively while working remotely, with specific channels, including one with automated workflows for the onboarding process.
In addition to growing our local workforce, we have also grown our local business. Germany is now Slack’s second largest market in Europe after the United Kingdom. In the first half of 2020, we increased sales by 44% year-over-year. The number of paid customers in Germany increased by 81% year-over-year. Two-thirds of the DAX 30 companies are now Slack customers. Another key growth driver was Slack Connect (previously known as shared channels), with the number of paid customers using Slack Connect almost tripling year-over-year.
We are particularly pleased about this because we significantly expanded Slack Connect over the summer and a Slack Connect channel can now be shared with up to 20 external partners. This allows for collaboration on complex projects to be organized transparently and seamlessly, even across company boundaries. Slack Connect is a perfect expression of our mission: We want to connect the right people, information and tools to make work simpler, more pleasant and more productive.
“We are the glue that holds people together everywhere.”
Slack has been there to help during the pandemic
The pandemic has undoubtedly been the dominant topic this year. Suddenly, remote work shifted from something we did rarely or occasionally to something office workers all over the world were doing for the long term. The disruption of work forced organizations to build an infrastructure enabling distributed work.
During this time, we’ve seen some inspiring success stories that demonstrate the relevance we have for our customers. A private health insurance company, for example, used Slack to move nearly 1,000 employees from the office to working from home within two weeks. Two hundred-year-old Jägermeister, which replaced email with Slack as a change approach, was able to manage its entire operation within Slack in time for the first lockdown. The DAX company Delivery Hero used Slack to create closeness at a time when its employees were dispersed across multiple locations. And Slack brought 43,000 people onto our platform to participate in the hackathon #WirVsVirus, organized by the federal government of Germany, with the goal of developing solutions for challenges presented by the pandemic.
If we compare the months of February and April of this year, i.e., the time before and during the first lockdown, the number of minutes that users of paid customers actively spent on Slack during a typical workday in Germany rose by an average of 47%. We have observed a similar trend all over the world.
With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, Slack employees will continue working remotely, with our offices closed until June 2021. This helps protect the health of our workers and gives them some certainty during an unpredictable time.
In these challenging times, Slack believes it is our responsibility to support companies with their digital transformation and to help them navigate through the inevitable disruption that comes with living through this pandemic. According to Slack’s Future Forum, only 12% of employees want to return to the office permanently. This means that companies will have to break new ground and adapt to a hybrid work model that combines both in-office and remote working. We believe asynchronous communication has a key role to play in this new world of work. For instance, if you can’t join a team meeting, you could instead post a project update via voice or video message in your team Slack channel. Asynchronous voice and video could offer a whole new level of flexibility for people to work together in their own time instead of at the same time. It could be yet another step toward improving the balance between work and private life.
In a LinkedIn post, an editor of the public broadcaster ARD recently wrote that her 89-year-old father was looking for a way to hold a meeting with his social club. Because of the pandemic, instead of the usual meeting in a pub, her father and other club members decided to use Slack instead. Ultimately it’s not about age, but rather the right mindset, to determine whether we can all master digital transformation. We want to support this process and ensure that people in Germany continue to have a special connection to Slack.
If you want to learn more about Slack and the digital transformation of the working world, don’t miss Slack Sessions on November 26, which will include Slack clients such as Credit Suisse, Delivery Hero and IBM.