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Introduction to Slack

davidwicaiBlog, Telework

As everyone settles in to full-time telework, I have looked for ways to improve communication channels for employees, supervisors, and the administration.

When state offices closed because of COVID-19 approximately five years ago (or, as calendar snobs call it, March), I began taking a closer look at how to open more virtual channels for communication. Until now, I have focused on trying to make the Intranet complement email updates, but would like something that is more conversational.

Enter Slack. Many of you have probably heard about the app, and maybe you have used it with other groups. For those who haven’t seen Slack, it’s a mix of a message board and social network.

The best way to learn Slack is to use it, so before doing anything more, join our community with this invite.

This post will provide a snapshot of how Slack will be used, at least initially. You can find additional tips and tricks from Slack.

The Intranet: Before jumping into Slack, I want to make it clear the Intranet will remain the home for official department information. This includes policies, forms and Hazel requests. The primary thing moving from the Intranet to Slack is the “Recent News” updates. Ideally, Slack will serve as the department’s bulletin board and water cooler.

Profile: When joining Slack, the first thing you will do is create your profile. This is similar to most social networks. Remember this is a work tool, so create a profile that is reflective of you as an employee.

Channels: In Slack, topics are arranged by hashtags into channels. Upon joining, everyone will be added to #general and #dhanews. The #general channel is information employees need to know, from HR updates to upcoming events. The #dhanews will highlight news stories and other media that either features DHA people or programs or possibly of interest to employees. You can join as many other channels as you’d like.

Creating Channels: Any member can create a public (which anyone can join) or private channel (the user who creates the channel approves those can join it) within the DHA workspace. These channels could become a productive communication tool for projects involving multiple divisions, teams that span the department, or other groups that don’t already communicate regularly through another forum, such as Google Chat or iMessage.

Privacy: Slack should be considered a tool for collaboration and conversation, not a secure platform. Communication in Slack should meet the same standard as a conversation in an office setting, even if it’s in a private channel.

I am hopeful that Slack can become another platform that makes our work stronger, especially because many of us will likely be working from home for at least a few more months. But I also want to find something that works for employees, not force something on people. So for those who do choose to join, please share your honest assessments with me.

Josh Loftin