17 Slack Etiquette Tips

Slack Etiquette
When developing a healthy etiquette for using Slack, set clear expectations for how to behave on the app. This means encouraging team members to utilize the status and do not disturb features, dissuading people from spamming channels or private messages, and developing short-hands such as the use of emoji reactions to increase productivity and efficiency.

1. Set Expectations

Slack has a number of different communication options, including Slack channels and direct messages. Ensure you set clear expectations of what sort of messages should go in each type of workspace.

Many businesses now have team members working from multiple locations and vastly different time zones. Especially for remote teams or those conducting virtual meetings and remote work, be sure to set clear expectations of when replies are to be expected and the workday times of everyone on the team.

2. No Pointless Greetings

Try to avoid sending a message to a team member that simply says ‘hi’ or ‘hello.’ This will ping a notification to them without providing any information or purpose. Integrate your greetings into the body of your message to avoid unnecessary notifications.

3. One vs. Many

It’s always better to send one clear message than multiple shorter ones, especially to public channels. Multiple Slack notifications can be distracting for someone attempting to complete their work.

It might also mean they read the first message and start on something else while waiting for the rest of the information to come through, potentially getting distracted and delaying you from receiving an important response or answer.

4. Format it

Formatting your message correctly can make it much easier to digest in real time. Even though Slack has an instant messaging system, good Slack etiquette is to use a communication style closer to that you would utilize for emails rather than social media.

For longer messages, utilize formatting tricks such as bullet points and commonly known abbreviations to get your information across quickly. Ensure you paragraph properly, putting a line break between every new point. For important messages, try to put the most vital point or question at the top of the message.

5. Threading the Needle

A good project management hack within Slack encourages your team to use threads correctly. This is especially important in public channels. By using threads, you can ask follow-up questions to a specific co-worker without sending notifications to everyone in the channel.

Using threads also makes it easier to find information when looking back through messages. You can use tricks like sending a message to the channel saying, ‘Reply with your slogan ideas’ – all the ideas will then be gathered in one easy-to-find place.

6. Channel Names

When setting up a new channel in Slack, make sure to follow the company channel naming guidelines. This usually includes having a channel name that explains the channel’s purpose professionally and easily.

Make sure to fill in the channel descriptions with important information. This includes: who the admins are, the channel’s purpose, and any home rules regarding communication within the channel.

7. Utilise Public Channels

Sending a DM means that only two team members get to know the answer to a question. This raises the possibility of the question being asked again later down the line, wasting time and reducing inefficiency.

Establish a culture where most questions are asked in public forums and use@channel. This means all team members can access work-related questions for future knowledge.

Private messages should only be used when the information is only pertinent to one or two group members.

8. Use Emojis

A great Slack etiquette guide for increasing workflow productivity is to reduce unnecessary noise with pointless responses. Saying ‘yes’ or ‘all good’ brings up a Slack notification for no reason, which can be frustrating.

Instead, use Slack’s built-in emoji reactions as a shortcut to let your team workers know that you have seen and understood their message. A ‘tick’ ✅ or ‘okay’ 👍 symbol gets the message across without wasting time.

9. Don’t Spam

Don’t spam DMs or public channels with unimportant messages or memes. This can be distracting as notifications come through, making it harder to find important information buried within the sea of messages.

10. Use Mentions Mindfully

Only use @mentions if you need an important answer promptly. Using mentions every time you put a question in a public channel can be frustrating, as people will assume it is important.

11. Do Not Disturb

Use the Do Not Disturb feature for times when you need to focus on your work without being bombarded with Slack notifications. Setting your Slack status to DND shows your co-workers that you won’t be able to respond and also stops notifications from coming through.

12. Feel Free to Pause Notifications

slack paused notifications
Paused notifications on Slack

Make sure you pause notifications during your off-hours. Now that we all have smartphones with work channels on, it can be easy for your work hours to bleed into your personal time. Pause your notifications to make sure you aren’t tempted to work when you should be relaxing.

13. Use Availability Status

availability status on slack
Availability status on Slack

According to DMR, most people leave slack open in the background during their entire work day, viz. accumulates to 9 hours/day on average.

But you can use the status indicator in the top right of your screen to show or change the availability. You can use this bar to pause notifications or set yourself as ‘away’ from the computer.

14. Huddles, not Calls

Huddles are Slack’s inbuilt solution to phone calls. Rather than setting up a bunch of Zoom calls or phone calls, you can use Huddles to start an audio call with everyone within a specific channel.

15. Bookmark Important Info

If important information comes up within a channel, bookmark it for ease of use. Bookmarks mean that information stays at the top of the channel for easy access.

16. Keep Your Profile Up to Date

Having un-updated profiles can make it hard to understand who is who within a Slack channel. Ensure you have your profile updated with a profile picture, name pronunciation, and contact information, so all your colleague know how to contact you.

17. Personalize Your Sidebar

Make sure to personalize your sidebar to increase your Slack efficiency. You can create ‘sections’ on your sidebar to keep certain channels or teams together, keeping everything neatly in one place for whenever you need to find it.

Is it rude to send Slack messages at night?

Sending Slack messages at night can be seen as rude if the team has not set clear expectations. Notifications can wake up sleeping co-workers who could feel pressured to change their work schedules to respond quickly.

However, night messages can be unavoidable if a remote team works from different time zones. This is why it’s important to encourage everyone to pause their notifications and set their status to ‘Do Not Disturb’ outside of their own work hours – that way, workers in foreign countries can send messages without worrying about invading anyone’s personal time.

How quickly should you respond to Slack messages?

You should respond to Slack messages as quickly as possible without breaking your own flow of work. If you are halfway through writing an important report, it is okay to finish it before responding to a message on a different topic.

However, having a spare moment and choosing not to respond out of laziness can impact your colleague’s ability to finish their tasks.

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer based in west London, England. He is a keen traveler, and has a particular interest in the fascinating differences in etiquette across the world. When not writing, he can be found dreaming up his next trip to far off places.

Recent Posts