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


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

What is Slack?

If you work remotely, whether permanently or as part of a hybrid work schedule, then chances are you’ve heard of Slack. With over 32.2 million daily active users, Slack is one of the most popular messaging applications for businesses that allows teams to stay connected no matter where they are 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,  88% 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.

Slack interface showing employee with an option to update his Slack status to manage his availability notifications
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 do you overcome this challenge?

How to manage your slack status: a quick guide

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. 

According to Mashable, there may be another way to fix this problem. They advise opening Slack after changing your phone's "auto-lock" option to "never." This means that your phone will not lock itself and then your status will remain green as the app will always be open. We only advise employing this strategy if you discover that, despite your genuine efforts to complete tasks, you aren't being perceived as "active." In the long run, using it to make yourself appear productive when you're actually doing something else will only hinder your advancement in the office.

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 link your slack status to your calendar

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.  And according to UC Berkeley, a basic encounter can take from 8 to 25 minutes to recover from. This implies that we could lose anywhere from 8 to 25 minutes of useful work time each time we encounter a distraction. 

For us it’s clear, fewer interruptions means an improvement in productivity.

How to reduce interruptions with your slack status? 

Set 'Do Not Disturb' on Slack

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.

Slack’s Do Not Disturb settings to manage your slack status and reduce interruptions whilst you work, such as 10PM to 8:30AM
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.

Mute Slack notifications 

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

Slack menu showing how to mute notifications for focussed work whilst maintaining an active slack status.
You can easily mute notifications using the top right menu.

Exploring the potential of AI-Enhanced Slack status management

Recent AI integrations within Slack, like the conversational chatbot Claude, are further revolutionising workplace communications and productivity by assisting with tasks from account planning to strategy formulation. 

Upcoming features like channel recaps, thread summaries, and intelligent search results aim to simplify work life by breaking down knowledge silos and providing actionable insights. These tools offer quick access to key information and insights in Slack, enhancing how users interact with their digital workspace for increased efficiency and productivity.

This advancement poses the question: How might Slack AI integrations, like Claude, revolutionise the management of Slack statuses? 

We anticipate that AI tools could automate status updates based on user activities or calendar events, providing more accurate and timely availability information. Additionally, features such as channel recaps and intelligent search could fine-tune status updates to reflect current tasks more precisely, thereby enhancing team transparency, efficiency, and fostering a unified digital workspace.

Mastering Slack status management

In conclusion, mastering Slack status management is a vital skill in the modern digital workplace. By effectively using features like 'Do Not Disturb' and integrating your status with online calendars, you can minimise distractions and maintain clear communication with your team. 

Understanding the nuances of Slack status helps in balancing visibility and productivity, especially in remote or hybrid work settings. While traditional methods of Slack usage offer significant benefits, the emerging AI integrations, like the conversational chatbot Claude, suggest an even more streamlined and intelligent future for workplace communication, promising to further enhance the way we interact and collaborate online.