My office is now a table at the back of my house, though there’s nothing unusual about that today. Many of us are working physically separate from one another but still looking for ways to work together, whether that’s tapping someone on the shoulder or grabbing a casual coffee with your coworker.
No matter where you’re working from, the current situation has provided a unique opportunity for easy-to-use tools to demonstrate their worth in helping us connect with our coworkers and stay productive while working remotely. We’re seeing that every day at Slack, which has experienced a huge surge in adoption in recent months.
Today Slack has over 2,000 apps in our App Directory, including favorites like apps that integrate Office 365, Google Drive, and Zoom. In fact, in March alone, Slack users nearly tripled the rate at which they integrate their tools in Slack.
But which apps should you integrate first? And why integrate them at all? Below are some of the most useful apps to solve common pain points around file sharing, video and voice calls, and culture and people management. Read on to learn more on how to use apps to become a Slack power user.
1. Use apps for video and voice calls
All-hands meetings are being done over videoconferencing and even quick chats are being initiated over video. When conversations get complex, apps make it easy to move from Slack into a video or voice call.
In March, we saw almost 350% growth in calls from Slack, both native Slack calls and use of apps like Zoom and Cisco Webex Meetings. You can get notifications of upcoming meetings through your integrated Outlook or Google Calendar apps, or a coworker can quickly share a link through Slack channels so others can join the call on the fly.
But sometimes you just want to call a phone number, so Slack added new functionality: Users can now make calls to phone numbers from Slack using Zoom Phone, Cisco Jabber, RingCentral, Dialpad, and more. We also introduced the Microsoft Teams Calls app. With the new app, users can launch a Teams video or voice call right from Slack.
Since I started working 100% remote, I’ve been trying my best to avoid videoconference fatigue. New research shows that continuously staring at faces up close, like in back-to-back meetings, can be mentally draining. Recently, I’ve experimented with adding the “asynchronous” video tool Loom into the mix. With Loom’s Slack integration, I’ve found it helpful to narrate short screen captures and video clips, and share them in a channel for folks to play back and respond to in their own time. Similarly, people at Slack find that Hallway can help diversify interactions with its virtual coworker break rooms for spontaneous conversations.
2. Use apps to share and keep track of files
A lot of work gets done in files, and teams often use multiple sources, including Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint, Box, and Dropbox. This can make it hard for employees to remember which documents are where and how to find information they need to get work done.
Sharing files in Slack makes your files instantly available to people who need them, right where they’re doing work — in Slack channels. File apps enable your coworkers to access, discuss, and react to files directly in Slack. These integrations help users manage access requests and permissions and know when new files have been shared.
Additionally, all those creatives out there using Adobe applications may be pleased to hear about an update that now lets you share, preview, and interact with Creative Cloud files from within Slack. This includes files from Creative Cloud storage or applications such as Adobe XD, Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and InDesign. Adobe’s new app helps cut down on context switching and keeps momentum on creative projects moving in the right direction.
When you’re looking for a file, whether it’s one of those Photoshop designs, a Word doc meeting agenda or a Google Slides presentation, searching in Slack’s search box means you’ll find it. Power users also know to find all the files that they’ve personally shared in Slack conveniently behind the “Files” icon in the recently updated sidebar menu — a handy shortcut.
3. Use apps for HR and to boost team culture
Thousands of companies moved their operations fully remote overnight. The lack of an office has made it harder for teams to stay connected, maintain company culture, and ensure we’re paying attention to important people issues — from providing feedback to approving time-off requests.
Simple apps like Disco and Donut can go a long way toward keeping employees engaged and connected. Disco helps teams recognize when people live company values, and Donut makes it easy for coworkers to connect by scheduling random virtual coffee meetings. I have especially enjoyed using Donut to catch up with coworkers that I haven’t seen in a while and don’t work closely with on my team.
For human resources, Slack can help increase compliance. Expense requests and approvals are more straightforward when your tools are all in one place. For example, employees can submit a time-off request through Workday. And when WFH Surveys are easy to find, everyone is more likely to complete these tasks.
If you want to install any of these apps and take your Slack usage to the next level, you can browse apps available in the App Directory or navigate to the app browser in the Slack app: Click “Apps” on the left sidebar to view apps available for everyone in your workspace, search for new apps, or open apps you’ve recently used. When you’ve found an app you’d like to use, click the “Add to Slack” button and follow the prompts. If you don’t have permission to install apps, you may need to submit an app request instead.
This unexpected shift to remote work has highlighted two things everyone needs to be successful: simple ways to make work easier and a sense of connection with others. The right tools can help with those needs, enabling remote teams to stay productive and happy no matter where everyone is working from. And I support that no matter where I’m working from.
Brian Elliott is a vice president at Slack. He joined Slack in 2017 to platform strategy and execution, responsible for overall growth of Slack’s platform capabilities. He previously was a general manager for Google and also served as CEO at Monsoon Commerce and Alibris.