How to Use Slack for Remote Work (A Simple Guide)

Communication is the lifeblood of the remote workspace. Whether your team works in a remote, hybrid, or distributed model, you must communicate effectively, often across multiple time zones, to keep productivity flowing. That’s why learning how to use Slack in the remote workspace is essential. 

More than just a messaging app, Slack is a complete workplace communication tool, often thought of as your digital office, that lets you hyper-collaborate with your team. It is the lifeblood for synchronous and asynchronous communication and must-have for the wide-majority of teams.

And thanks to its many integrations, Slack may be the only workplace communication tool you’ll ever need.

How to Use Slack for Remote Teams (Best Practices)

Even the best communication tool is only as good as how you use it. Slack has several handy features that make it the industry leader in remote workplace communication. Here are the best practices for remote teams using Slack:

  • Centralize information in dedicated Slack channels.
  • Control notifications to reduce interruptions.
  • Use your Slack status to let team members know when you are available.
  • Create an etiquette guide for your remote team to follow.
  • Recreate the atmosphere of a physical workplace by encouraging casual chat and networking on Slack.
  • Use Slack integrations to boost productivity.

How to Use Slack Channels

In Slack, you can use channels to group discussion into different categories to make it easier to search. Like an email thread, channels can be dedicated to different teams or projects.

Creating a Channel

To create a Slack channel, you need Admin or Full Member permission of your Slack workspace. If you have that, navigate to the sidebar on the left side of your screen. Under the list of channels, click on ‘Create a channel’.

A screenshot showing how to create a channel in Slack.

 From there, you’ll be asked to name your channel. You can enter text in the field for the channel’s purpose and invite up to 1,000 team members. You can also decide to make the channel private if you want to restrict who can join.

Creating a Private Channel

While creating your channel, you’ll see a toggle to make it a private channel. But note that once a channel has been made private, it can not be changed to public. Anyone you want to use the private channel will have to be invited by you or another Admin.

A screenshot showing the toggle to make a Slack channel private.

Joining a Channel

You automatically join the default channels when you join a new Slack workspace. A new Slack workspace comes with two default channels: General and Random.

Click on the channels menu link on the left sidebar to join other channels. You can also use the CTRL+Shift+L command. Either way, you’ll end up on the Browse Channels page. It will list all the public channels you haven’t joined yet. Click on any channel, and you’ll be given the option to join.

Inviting Users to a Channel

When you add new team members to a remote workspace, you should invite them to the specific channels they need to be a part of. Also, if you want certain team members to join you in a private channel, you’ll need to invite them.

To do this, go to the channel you want to add them to from the left sidebar. 

Click on the link that says ‘Add people to this channel’. You’ll be reminded that anyone you invite will be able to see the channel’s contents. 

Click on ‘Continue’, and you’ll be able to add people on the next page. 

Then search for the team members you want to add, and click on their name.

A screenshot showing how to add team members to a Slack channel.

Giving Users Permission to Create Channels

By default, all the members of your remote workspace can create channels on their own but you can change this.

Go to the Administration menu of your Slack workspace and click on ‘Manage Members’. Here, you can set or change the status of the members to any of these four: Guest, Admin, Full member, and Owner. Those with Guest status can’t create their own channels. So if you want team members to be able to create channels of their own, give them Admin or Full Member status.

How to Use Slack for Project Management

To learn how to use Slack effectively for project management, here are some essential features you should be aware of:

1.  Slack Commands

Slack comes with built-in slash commands that you can easily access by typing / followed by a keyword. Typing / into any channel or a direct message will bring up a selection menu showing you the commands you can use. For instance, typing /away will change your Slack status to ‘away’ mode.

2. Mentions

To ensure your remote team members don’t miss a message, you can mention them. This will send the person a notification of your message. To mention someone, type @ followed by their name. You can also mention @here to notify members who are online, @channel to notify all members of a channel, or @everyone to notify everyone in the workspace.

3. Search

The search function is essential for using Slack efficiently. You can search any conversation by typing +G on a Mac or CTRL+G on Windows to search your conversations.

4. Slack App Directory

A great thing about Slack is its seamless integration with other apps that can boost your productivity. The Slack Apps Directory contains over 2,000 apps that sync with Slack and offer great features, including syncing your Slack status with Google Calendar and automatically updating your status with Pulse.

Guidelines and Team Rules

Some of your remote team members may not be familiar with Slack. So, it’s vital to establish guidelines on how to use this powerful communication tool. Here are some helpful guidelines that will keep you and your team from getting overwhelmed with messages:

1. Set Default Channels

Any new members added to the remote workspace will automatically be added to default channels. You can use this feature to direct new team members to the channels they need for their work.

2. Use Threads

Message threads allow you to nest messages instead of starting a new message. It can help keep relevant conversations grouped for easy access and prevent clutter in the Slack channel.

3. Use Status to Communicate Availability

Your Slack status is a great way to let your coworkers know when you’re available to talk and when you are focused on deep work. Pulse makes your Slack status more helpful by automatically updating your status based on your configuration.

There can be exacerbated distractions in workplace digital communication tools such as Slack. Reducing such distractions is key to boosting your productivity and improving focus time.

How to Use Slack to Boost Productivity

  • Group channels on your sidebar.
  • Pin essential channels to the top of your channel list.
  • Mute channels that you don’t need to hear from regularly.
  • Create light-hearted Slack channels where people can chat and have fun. Not only does this help in team-building, but it also keeps your work-focused channels free of lighter information.
  • Pin your primary collaborators in the sidebar. In using Slack, you’ll most likely be speaking with the same 6-8 people most of the day. 

Why You Need Slack Integration Apps

This article has some of the best Slack apps for remote teams that we have found to help you collaborate on projects with team members, communicate more effectively, and block out distractions.

Slack boasts the largest set of 3rd party apps and integrations amongst all workplace digital communication tools. Take advantage of them to solve various workflows.

Bottom Line: Streamline Communication

Slack is a critical tool for enabling communication in the remote workplace. More intuitive and seamless than email, Slack allows you to group conversations between multiple team members to streamline communication.

More than that, Slack can help you collaborate with a distributed team in real-time. It can help recreate the side-by-side feeling of a physical office in a digital setting.