The Slack collaborative communication platform presents two tools, Huddles and Atlas, to push more communication between collaborators using audio exchanges and a directory. Behind this rapid adaptation to hybrid work, the firm seeks above all to develop relaxed discussions, set aside with the pandemic and remote work.
Since the start of the pandemic, Slack has not stopped reinventing itself. Last March, the company launched several features to better understand hybrid work, between office and home. In order to recreate a friendly atmosphere, where any user can maintain a link with other users who are not part of his company, Slack had presented “slack connect direct message” allowing direct messages to be sent to these external people, who he had to retouch. Since then, the firm has unveiled two other tools for the well-being of the user. First, the ability to record a video clip, as well as audio-only interactions within Slack channels, called Huddles. “It’s a casual, unscheduled, call-like experience, except anyone in the channel or group message can drop in at any time to listen or talk,” explains Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and CEO of Slack.
This mode of communication, both synchronous and asynchronous, should make it possible to revive “the fast, ambient and informal discussions that you miss in the office”. Pilot customers such as Dell and Expedia have already been able to experiment with the tool, which met with some success and quickly became appreciated as an alternative to sometimes too long video meetings. This audio communication option could be used, among other things, to organize open office hours in a channel, create a virtual coworking space where people enter or exit at their convenience. “Slack’s Huddles would result in timely, timely conversations for other needs such as incident management or troubleshooting an IT problem,” adds Matt Mullen, Slack’s audio and video product manager.
Users can now initiate an informal audio chat and share their screen at the same time if they wish. (Credit: Slack)
Promote interactions between employees
In addition to Huddles, the American firm offers the possibility of recording and downloading short video or voice clips, with screen sharing, so that other users can watch them and respond to them directly in the channel. These messages can be programmed so as not to disturb the user on his free and personal time.
The save and share feature allows other collaborators to react whenever they want in the discussion thread. (Credit: Slack)
Slack also plans to improve the content playback experience by providing access to video playback speed. Recordings made in Slack are also archived with searchable transcripts in a discussion thread, adding to the communication elements already present in the organization. Huddles and recordings will be captioned live, to allow everyone to actively participate in the conversation. Slack plans to make this tool available to all users at no additional cost.
An internal organization directory
In order to get to know your colleagues better, in your department as well as in others within a company, Slack is launching “Atlas”, a company directory in which everyone can navigate from the communication platform and connect to their colleagues. The goal: to enrich profiles with relevant and dynamic information, including company organizational structure, employee start dates, and custom fields. The feature integrates seamlessly with fairly popular HR solutions like Workday, which means profile data feeds automatically and is always up-to-date. “Admins can customize what’s displayed to meet the unique needs of their organization,” says Matt Mullen.
Although competitors like Teams and Outlook already have an “organization” tab where users can find and interact with an org chart and access basic contact information, functionality is essentially limited to that. “Slack Atlas will provide a dynamic org chart and basic contact information, but it will also have the ability to add custom profile fields, name pronunciation and more to give a richer view of the person, what on what she works with and who she works with directly in Slack,” says the audio and video product manager at Slack. For now, Slack Huddles and the audio/video recording tool are only available for paid plans, but are included in the existing product at no additional cost. Slack Atlas, which is a paid additional feature, will be priced based on the business. It might be offered for some plans, namely Business+ and Enterprise Grid. The feature is available for purchase in the US and Canada only, with wider availability coming soon.