Earlier this summer, Slack released some new tools for their popular communication platform that served as a nod towards the increasing role of flexible audio when it comes to collaboration and remote work. The company announced a new audio tool called Slack Huddles and gave more details on a couple of other unique features—including the ability to leave a video message and an enhanced employee directory. Let’s take a closer look at how these new features on Slack function, the way they reflect the changing nature of work itself, and how we are using them here at GANDT.
Let’s start with Slack Huddles. This new audio tool essentially makes it simple to switch to a real-time conversation with someone in Slack, instead of having to rely on typing to express your thoughts. In addition to alleviating the need for so much typing, the company also believes this functionality will allow more spontaneous discussion (the kind that usually happens in a more traditional office setting). As Tamar Yehoshua, chief product officer at Slack, explained in a press briefing:
“Huddles is a lightweight, audio-first way of communicating right in Slack. [It] recreates the spontaneous and serendipitous interactions that happen outside of scheduled meetings.”
How it works
Huddles are accessible through a channel or a DM and can be used even with people outside your organization. Just like other real-time communication tools, you can come and go as you please—thus avoiding the need to schedule a whole meeting for something that can be discussed in a couple of minutes. A nice bonus is that you can still share your screen, allowing colleagues to look at a presentation or review a document together.
The company also provided more details on their video message capability, an idea they have been hinting at since last year. The feature is similar to a video voicemail or an Instagram Story—you essentially just make a short video and then post it directly on Slack in the channel or thread of your choice. “We’ve been thinking about it, and we believe that by giving people a way to expressively and asynchronously share and consume information, we can enable people to be more flexible in how they work and reduce the need for video meetings,” Yehoshua said.
Another function of these new features on slack is that they’re automatically transcribed. This not only recognizes the fact that not everyone will be able to hear, but it also means you can search through messages in the app—just like searching a text message.
How are we using the new features on Slack at GANDT?
We’ve been using the Huddle feature as it has rolled out, and it’s already markedly improved a lot of the efficiencies. It has also contributed to a mindset shift in how we look at spontaneous conversations and get-togethers, whether one-on-one or in smaller groups.
That, I believe, is the main change. The fact that you don’t necessarily need to plan things in the same way with these new features on Slack, you feel like you can engage in ad-lib conversations. And that in itself helps to move items forward much faster—it provides a kind of lubrication for the way we work internally. It has been quite fascinating to watch, and I’m sure you’ll see more and more organizations will pivot to this tool as it continues to roll out more new features on Slack.