Make the Most of the #Random Slack Channel for Company Culture
Slack has become an integral part of many companies' internal communication strategies. The messaging app has been adopted by nearly every major tech company for its ability to help teams collaborate, and with last year's acquisition by Salesforce is poised to penetrate even deeper into the business market.
According to market research firm Statista, Slack is projected to have 19.2 million daily users by the end of 2021. As its use grows and companies look for new ways to boost collaboration, companies should consider adding a diversity of communication channels. One way to do this is by creating a channel for randomness. This type of channel can prove valuable in many situations, and it's also a great place for new employees to ask questions about how things work.
However, there are certain rules and guidelines to follow in order to make sure the #random Slack channel runs smoothly with minimal issues. To understand how to leverage a #random channel, we've asked the experts.
Why Do You Need a #Random Channel?
Every Slack workspace starts with two channels: #general and #random. Simply put, the #random channel is the place for water cooler talk, a spot to post memes and GIF images, and simply a space to be social with other workers.
The #random Slack channel is "basically a channel where employees can decompress and avoid shop-talk for a few moments while at work," said Sam Shepler, CEO at Testimonial Hero, a Boston-based company that creates video testimonials for businesses.
The ability for team members to bond is key to a positive work environment. It's not a secret that the more connected employees are with the company, the better their work will be. This social component is fundamental to functioning workplace, said Shaun Price, head of customer acquisition at Auckland, New Zealand-based MitoQ, a nutritional supplement maker. A #random Slack channel can be a needed boost.
"People will feel more connected to their company because they have work friends, which can lead to more innovation and passion from your team," he said.
Related Article: Do You Need Slack Etiquette?
4 Tips for a Productive Slack Channel
Having a #random Slack channel is a good idea for many businesses but it's still necessary to have some rules. Here are some tips for making the most of it:
Keep Things Professional
Just because the #random channel is supposed to be random, it doesn't mean it should foster improper behavior and rudeness. To avoid that, Price suggested that "channel guidelines should fall under the workplace conduct guidelines you outline in your employment contracts, and in most cases, employees will understand that #random Slack chats should be held to the same level of propriety as public workplace conversations."
In other words, be sure every employee knows the standards when onboarding. It helps to include a set of instructions and Slack guidelines as part of the employee handbook.
Make Sure to Include Everyone
A benefit of the #random Slack channel is being able to talk to colleagues easily without being worried that a topic doesn't fit. However, that doesn't mean creating communication silos that end up alienating other employees.
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"I have seen random channels border on the offensive and make some members of the team feel excluded," said Matt Johnson, co-founder at London-based Taskable, a productivity app. "We use our random Slack channel for posting funny content. It's a great way to share a laugh with all the team."
Companies can configure their Slack workspace so when a worker is added to the platform they get added to the #random channel. That way, the channel doesn't become the personal forum for just a few people.
Make the #Random Channel a Safe Space
With the right Slack etiquette, companies probably won't need to police and monitor the #random channel. Making it a non-supervised channel can bring plenty of benefits, said Shepler.
"The comfort of knowing that you are in a 'safe space' with your co-workers and free to be casual for a few minutes works wonders," he said. "We don't monitor our #random channel, and our employees tend to have great online etiquette so there haven't been any issues."
The foundation of a well-functioning #random channel is online etiquette and clear guidelines. Employees need to feel comfortable and free from work constraints for a minute, but that doesn't mean bashing other employees or talking about the company or clients.
Break the #Random Slack Channel Into Further Channels
After there's enough critical mass, the #random channel may become confusing and cluttered which dilutes its benefit as a space for water cooler chats. When that happens, some companies have opted to break it down further by creating channels such as #funny, #casual, #homeprojects and #music.
Otherwise, there can be too much chatter in the #random channel and people may start to ignore it. With more specific channels, people can prioritize messages from certain channels they're interested in.
Slack has become a robust tool for communication, and it can build and instill company culture, especially in remote workplaces. The #random channel is a fundamental piece of Slack strategy and shouldn't be pushed aside as frivolous. On the contrary, embrace its relaxed nature and reap the benefits of a well-knit, engaged workforce.
About the Author
Kaya Ismail is a business software journalist and commentator with years of experience in the CMS industry.