Productivity

Your guide to managing your Slack status

Learn how you can effectively manage you Slack status to fit your needs. Everything you need to know about staying online, adding automation and more.

Ivor Colson

TLDR

Slack explained - Following the gain of popularity with remote working, messaging platforms like Slack offer easier and more efficient workplace communication.
Its popularity - What makes Slack outrun the other workplace applications with 10 million daily active users?
Slack status - How does Slack status enable better synchronous communication?
Keeping Slack active - Ensure you engage on Slack or change the setting.
Managing Slack status - Does the 'inactive' status mean employees are not productive?
Optimising Slack status - With features and integration, Slack can be of great advantage in organising and collaborating.
Distraction - While communication is facilitated with Slack, interruptions and distractions also follow.
Our take - Connecting your apps into one platform can reduce interruptions

If you work remotely, whether permanently or as part of a hybrid work schedule, then chances are you’ve heard of Slack. With over 10 million daily active users, Slack is one of the most popular messaging applications for businesses. 

What is Slack?

Slack is a messaging platform for workplaces that allows teams to stay connected no matter where they are working. Designed to support remote and hybrid working, Slack allows users to let people know when they are active and when they are away, and this can support the ease of communication across teams.

But why is Slack so important to the modern workplace, and how can you utilise your slack status to your benefit? Keep reading to find out, and also to see how we can play a key role in successfully using Slack.

Why do people use Slack?

In the modern workplace, there are tons of online workplace applications that can be used to support communication across teams. Slack is one of the best.

On Slack, you can message people from inside your company but also those based outside. You can add in partners from separate companies into your channel if you wish, increasing the scope of communication.

These channels are a great way of separating conversations through Slack. Teams will commonly have channels dedicated to different areas of their business. For example, you could have a channel dedicated to marketing and another channel dedicated to finance. If you were more involved within the marketing side of your company, you would not need to open the messages on the finance channel as frequently since you would know this isn’t a priority for you.

Although Slack is primarily used as a messaging platform, you can also send video clips or audio huddles on the platform. According to research, 84% of workers who used Slack felt more connected to their teams due to using the software. Furthermore, Slack can be used to help resolve feelings of isolation and loneliness that some people feel when working remotely. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly to this particular blog, one of the absolute best aspects of Slack is how you can use your status to let people know when you are active or away.

Slack status: what’s it all about?

When you use Slack, you can let your team know when you’re available. This is great because it manages the sender’s expectations in terms of how quick the response might be. This type of synchronous based communication has its benefits, but also its drawbacks. But how can you edit your Slack status? There are a few ways to edit availability on Slack.

Edit your status from the top right profile menu.

The first is via the top right profile section, you can manually update your status like the above screenshot. This is a message that appears below your name and lets people know what you’re doing. You can say things like “In a meeting” or “Out for lunch” to let people know when you may not respond immediately.

The second way of editing your availability is by changing your activity. This is when you put yourself as “active” or “away”. When set as active, you will have a green dot next to your name.

Keeping your Slack status active

An important thing to know about your Slack status is that it can automatically change from active to away. Slack will set your status to “away” after ten minutes of desktop inactivity or if you navigate away or close the app on your mobile phone.

This can lead to issues as some managers may believe that workers are not being productive due to their Slack status. However, in reality users may just be “away” without their knowledge.

So, how can you overcome this challenge?

The first solution is rather obvious: ensure you engage on Slack if using it on your desktop every ten minutes or keep your phone off lock every ten minutes when using Slack on your phone.

However, this could lead to a loss of concentration and an increase of distraction which is not ideal. A second solution could work to resolve this issue, as proposed by Mashable.

They suggest setting your phone’s “auto-lock” to “never” and then opening Slack. This means that your phone will not lock itself and then your status will remain green as the app will always be open. This is a method that we only recommend using if you find that you’re not being viewed as ‘active’ when you are really getting work done. Using it to pretend that you are active when you’re really doing something else will only negatively impact your progress in the workplace in the long run.

Perhaps most importantly, managers shouldn’t be using Slack statuses to measure their team’s performance and productivity. If teams have measurable OKRs and/or KPIs, whether a person is online or not becomes irrelevant. This form of management can also lead to issues with presenteeism - which can eat away at your company.

How to update your Slack status automatically using calendar integration

Another great trick in making sure that your slack status is as accurate as possible is by integrating Slack with your online calendars.

If you use Google Calendar, you can sync your calendar with your Slack status with the integration. You can also do this by using Clockwise, a software that allows for this integration as part of the onboarding flow within Slack. It has a bunch of other useful features too.

Once you have integrated these two apps, your Slack status will automatically change based on the events placed in your Google Calendar.

Another great advantage of using Clockwise within your Slack status is that it can give you a daily forecast of your meetings which can be really helpful when beginning to prepare for the day.

But what if you have multiple calendars? For example, you might be working across different businesses and might need to integrate both Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar to your Slack channel, then you can use Holopod. This is a software that works similarly to Clockwise and allows you to automate your Slack status based on the smart calendar software.

Do not disturb and managing interruptions

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of using Slack within workplace communication. But, if used in the wrong way, Slack can sometimes be a hindrance to the workplace and your productivity. As Slack sends notifications, it can end up causing unnecessary distraction from your work. 

These unnecessary distractions can make it harder to reach the state of optimum productivity known as deep work. According to research by Spica, the average intellectual worker is interrupted somewhere between 4 to 12 times every hour, and this equates to one interruption every 15 mins. For us it’s clear, fewer interruptions means an improvement in productivity.

But how can you reduce interruptions?

One way is by changing your Slack status to “Do Not Disturb” (DND). This gives you the perfect opportunity to work without distractions. You can schedule DND so it is set for certain times of the day. This can be particularly helpful when you know you have project deadlines as it can help you set aside the amount of hours you need and stick to it.

Select ‘Settings & administration’ from the menu, then click ‘Workspace settings’. Scroll down to ‘do not disturb’ and click on ‘Expand’.

You can also set DND manually and lay out for how long you would like to remain uncontactable. This is great for when you are in the productive flow and you don’t want to not be disturbed.

DND also can be a great way to establish boundaries when working remotely, especially if you are planning to work the typical 9-5 Monday to Friday. You can set Slack up so you won’t receive notifications after 5pm each day and that you don’t receive any notifications on weekends.

By muting your notifications, you can also reduce your interruptions during the workday which can lead to better productivity and less distraction. 

You can easily mute notifications using the top right menu.

How else can you reduce interruptions? Our users often mute all of their applications and come to our Workplace Feed when they need a summary of what’s happened. 

This has helped our users take back control of their working day and discover workplace updates on their own terms. You can check your Slack messages, along with the most pertinent updates across Trello, Asana, Google Drive and other integrations in a single glance. Focus on what you need to rather than getting lost in endless notifications. 

All of your Slack updates along with your other tools in one platform.

If you’d like to try out the platform, you can sign up now.

Our take

If you haven’t downloaded Slack for your workplace, then it is something that you should definitely consider doing to ease workplace communication. Slack can help foster healthy communication across teams, especially when working remotely.

One of Slack’s best functions is to utilise the status feature which can be automated and adapted to fit your specific needs.

However, whilst Slack is great, one of its greatest pitfalls is how it can lead to an increase in interruptions. These can negatively impact your productivity during the working day. Our users mute their Slack notifications as they favour an asynchronous method of communication where instant responses are not expected.

Using Omnifia, we check the workplace feed to see which Slack messages we want to respond to as these are conveniently placed alongside any new emails, project updates, calendar information and more.

Therefore, it is possible to use Slack to your advantage when communicating both synchronously and asynchronously. 

Do you use Slack for your workplace communication, and if so what is your favourite aspect of the Slack status? Let us know by messaging us on our Twitter or LinkedIn.  

Other blog posts

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.