Becoming a Pro Slacker

Photo Credit: unknown

Becoming a Pro Slacker

That’s not such a bad thing these days.

Much like most professionals, I spend a lot of time emailing. I mean A LOT of time. On average, I recieve between 125-150 emails in a workday. I am not ashamed or bashful in saying, I HATE it. I feel like I am doing my employer a disservice by spending a large portion of my day staring at the boring UI of Microsoft Outlook. As a BIM leader, my day should be filled chasing down users, maintaining models, and working with clients to help move the project along. None of that is effectively done via email. Often, it just makes it worse.

Enter Slack, a web based communication app that hopes to change our dependency on email. In their own words; “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.” Slack is developed by Tiny Speck, a company founded by core members of the original Flickr team, and I will admit that I was a big fan of the original Flickr. For realtime team communication, Slack hits the nail on the head for me in so many ways.

My Top Ten Reasons for Loving Slack

  1. It works EVERYWHERE
    • Great Apps for Mobile devices
    • Works with almost every Web browser…including IE10
    • Native Application for OSX
  2. Integrates with other Web Apps
  3. Drop-dead simple file sharing
  4. Robust and simple API for extendability
  5. Access Logging and Team administration
  6. Integrated Notifications on every platform!
  7. Flexible communication channels, Direct Messages and private groups
  8. No Email!
  9. No infrastructure to maintain
  10. Instant communication. It’s wicked fast!


Slack’s UI is awesome. Many folks don’t care, or put little emphasis on this, but I get really excited when something looks great and works even better!

Slack UI

So how does this really change the way I work? How does it reduce my dependency on email? Well, Its kinda simple.

We, meaning my team, spend a tremendous amount of time emailing single line sentences back and forth. My favorite Intense Sarcasm is a bodyless email where the subject is the entire email! All of these ‘reflex’ style emails are either building upon some off-line conversation, or are just a heads up to the goings on. These emails are entirely unnecessary, as they are just a simple form of instant communication. That’s where a DM (equivalent to a DM on Twitter) is used.

The other major email timesuck is that endless reply-all thread. There is a certain place in hell for these threads. This is where I believe slack kicks the llama’s ass. I have setup a few ‘channels’ on my work slack that cover these threads. Instantly, everyone is included, anyone that wants to Opt-out can and its completely searchable. When its all done, and we have killed the dead horse, the channel is archived, and we can move on. Images, videos, and random work documentation can be shared with the relevant parties, commented, revised and instantly available on your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Ohh you forgot your laptop and need to share the document to someone outside of Slack? Create a public link (one click) and text, tweet, or email (yikes!) the link and you are ready to go. No implementation, no signup, just easy. What about security? Slack has you covered there. Only the folks you want to have the data, have the data. How? here: Slack Security. Go read it, I’ll wait. Pretty straight-forward if you ask me.

Speaking of security, let’s briefly discuss email. Amongst my pet peeves with email, is “FWD:”. I find it unsettling that every single email you ever send can blindly be forwarded on without your permission. Ever think about that? Whoops, you didn’t mean to say that about your co-worker? – Too bad, they now know it. You accidentally sent that message to your entire office? Then it got forwarded to corporate? Try pulling that message back via exchange. Slack’s private groups slaps email in the face on that one. You can create private groups to talk freely with a small subset of the full slack team, and if you need to add a new member, you have the choice to show the history or just whats new. Smooth move Slack. So your private group creates something amazing, and is ready to share? Do it, you can share any file from a group out to a channel or DM it to someone in the Slack team. Didn’t mean to? Un-share it. It’s really easy. Last part about security, is logging. Every Slack access is logged, and each team member can see their own access log. Full transparency there. I like that.

One other thing that is worth mentioning here: What happens when you as the owner of the team, moves on? Do you still have access to data that should remain with your former team? Slack allows you to transfer ownership to a more appropriate party and they can choose to oust you if needed. I think that attention to detail deserves some recognition.

I felt that Slack deserved some praise here. I hope that I did it justice and perhaps inspired you to check it out. It’s worth the look. I’m proud to be working my way to becoming a professional Slacker.If nothing else, follow @SlackHQ on twitter and watch how they change the face of professional communications.

My next post will introduce Sync-2-Slack. My first Integration into Slack. Allowing Revit users to regain insight into Sync to Centrals. Replacing the need for Workshare Monitor and/or Project Bluestreak.