Innovation and collaboration in the IT developer community used to happen almost exclusively around the office whiteboard, at the proverbial water cooler or over a pizza. Then came Covid, which changed traditional ways of doing business globally – no more so than among developers.
As a result, Slack’s collaboration technology has taken on a whole new meaning as today’s office becomes increasingly disparate and decentralized, helping to drive innovation and unlock hidden information in this new paradigm.
At the forefront of innovation
Slack has been at the forefront of innovation and collaboration for developers since 2008, starting from a group of game developers who needed a tool that enabled them to communicate more effectively with a shared view of their work, whether across a cubicle wall or across of different time zones.
The tool eventually proved far more valuable than the game, and after 14 years, Slack has grown to become a platform for organizations to create a “digital headquarters,” or “digital headquarters.” A digital headquarters connects knowledge workers with each other, with their tools and data, and with their customers and partners – it’s where the work happens. For developers, Slack has become the de facto standard due to its open platform, ease of integration, the 2,500+ applications found in the App Directory, and its ability to support the way teams now work.
The toolset developed by Slack in its formative years is now extensive. Developers are up to 37 percent more productive when they work together across a single platform, according to recent research from Forrester. In addition, many of Slack’s larger customers—such as Amazon and Atlassian, which can have hundreds, if not thousands, of tools connected to the Slack platform—have reported a reduction of up to 18 percent in development cycle time.
Moving to an asynchronous work environment
One area where Slack proves invaluable is in supporting creativity and innovation. In the past, it was commonly believed that the best way to be innovative was to get everyone in a room together to work through a specific project or challenge. For larger organisations, this meant a lot of time spent on meetings, dissemination of information and searches for adjustments. As we all moved remote, developers unlocked more focus time, but also became more toned down in their work. Collaborations were hidden away in inboxes. As a solution, several video meetings were created to share and coordinate.
“Some companies reported a 250 percent increase in meetings since 2020. Much of this extra time was spent reading out status updates or just listening to executives to stay updated,” says Derek Laney, technology evangelist for the future of work at Slack.
In this environment, the advent of the Slack platform, with its support for asynchronous work, has proven something of a godsend. It allows teams to communicate through channels that are open 24/7, where they can add important information and stay up-to-date on everything they need to know to be fully effective. “Teams working in Slack report 45 percent fewer emails and 21 percent fewer meetings—a huge productivity boost,” says Laney.
Much of this development was borne out of necessity thanks to the pandemic. According to the Future Forum, a research collaboration between Slack and other organizations, including the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the nature of the workforce and workplace has changed dramatically in recent years. “Now 79 percent of employees want flexibility where they work, but even more importantly 94 percent want flexibility when they work. This is especially true for caregivers or underrepresented groups.”
Clips and clamps
Slack tools are designed to offer the best of both worlds. Developers may be at the forefront of digital technology, but they also understand the value of face-to-face communication and the way people have worked together for hundreds of years. With this in mind, tools like Slack Clips and Slack Huddles have been designed to recreate the more free-flowing way workers and developers would have shared ideas across cubicle walls in the past.
With Clips, users can record audio and video clips and share them with anyone in a channel, who can digest them in their own time and then reply in the thread with their own reply or clip – much like using instant messages, constantly adding to the conversation.
With huddles, you can recreate the quick, informal discussions you usually have in the office right in Slack. You can start a huddle in any channel or IM, invite specific people to join, and share your screen to work side-by-side with your team with audio only or audio and video.
Clips and huddles allow people to prioritize what’s important and only pay attention to what applies to them. It allows them to get to the heart of the work they need to do, without having to spend time in generalized meetings, which often contain a lot of redundant information and waste time.
In much the same way, Australian fintech lender Wisr used Donut, a Slack app, to help employees transition to remote work. It encourages people to get to know each other beyond their job title and discover new perspectives by encouraging in-person or virtual meetings, asynchronous banter, and more festive birthday and work anniversary celebrations.
Looking to the future with a digital headquarters
The biggest post-pandemic gamechanger for Slack and the developer community has been the evolution of the digital headquarters, which has helped companies reimagine a digital-first approach to work and forever changed the way organizations view their headquarters.
Instead of building an organization based on a physical design, which was the way of the world for centuries, organizations are now taking this investment and placing it in the formation of a digital infrastructure that supports their diverse teams using the Slack platform and its developer apps, workflows and tools.
Over the next decade, this transition to a digital ecosystem will be even more pronounced, given this technology’s relative infancy. This will be largely driven by a culture of experimentation, trying things out and then iterating, which is very much part of Slack’s vision: to bring tools to people to experiment with and improve them to find more ways to be more productive on.
This applies not only to the developer world, but to the workforce in general. The digital headquarters is about creating a fabric that combines many different tools, allowing users to work more productively together while maintaining individual autonomy.
A good example of this is software giant Salesforce, which recently acquired Slack, providing what it describes as “a single source of truth for your business and a single platform to connect employees, customers and partners”. Under this new 360-degree digital HQ Slack platform, Salesforce can incorporate all of its divisions—including customers, sales, service, marketing, product development, and employee retention and satisfaction—under one umbrella, leading to greater synchronicity and productivity across the organization .
It illustrates the shift in the post-pandemic workplace – maintaining the best of the ancient ways of human communication while reaping the benefits of all that digital technology has to offer.