woman working from home on her couch

Everyone seems to be talking about Slack nowadays, and now that you have a remote job, you find yourself in the midst of the conversation. 

It’s not surprising Slack has grown in popularity. Countless companies have been forced to work remotely in the past year, and an increasing number of organizations are inherently remote to begin with. As such, they need a virtual workspace that simulates an office environment, which is only one component of what Slack is: a Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge. 

Slack is a handy tool that streamlines communication between distributed employees. Let’s cover how to use Slack if you’re new to working remotely:

How to Use Slack: the Basics

As we just mentioned, Slack is comparable to a virtual workplace. If you and your coworkers aren’t in the same physical space, then accomplishing business goals with only emails and phone calls is tedious and convoluted. It helps to have a platform that simulates an office environment where you can send messages publicly and privately, as well as find old conversations whenever you need to go back to them. 

Download the Slack app for mobile and desktop. You’ll be able to create a new workspace or join an existing one if you have an invite link. Once in, you can add your title, timezone, and profile picture so other users can contact you.

how to use slack

Create Channels for Different Topics

Slack enables users to create channels for specific topics. Some channels are automatically included and denoted on your screen’s left-hand side with a hashtag, such as #general and #random. You can use the former channel to make typical company announcements or send messages to your entire workspace. The latter is the channel you go to talk about non-work-related things, the way you would chat with your coworkers in a break room. 

There are no limits to the kind of channels you can create — they’re merely ways to organize communication pertinent to a subject. You can create #finance for your financial department, #content for your marketers to share blog posts before publishing, or even channels specific to your business’s clients or other departments. Simply click the “+” button next to “Channels” on your navigation menu. 

You don’t want to make too many channels, though, or you risk becoming unorganized — the opposite of what Slack wants you to be. It’s okay for topics to overlap where it makes sense. There’s no hard number to aim for, but be mindful of how many people work at your company and make sure your workspace is easily navigable. 

If you want to know how to leave a Slack channel because it’s no longer relevant to you, go to the “information” icon at the top of the channel, select “more” on the right-hand side (on desktop), and “leave channel” is the final selection of the drop-down menu. 

Send Private Messages 

Like any social media platform or email, you can send private messages to people you work with. Your DMs are displayed on the left side of your screen below the channel list. Again, click the “+” sign next to “Direct messages.” Messaging employees or coworkers is a long-distance replacement for walking up to their desks and directly talking to them. Not every conversation is appropriate for a channel where everyone else can see it! 

Send Notifications to Individuals or Groups 

On the other hand, if you want to get an entire channel’s attention or want everyone to see your communication with someone else for transparency’s sake, you can tag people with the “@” sign. You can tag individuals or use @here or @channel to send a notification with your message. 

To acknowledge that you received a message, click the text itself, hit “add reaction,” and select a Slack emoji. The emoji will display beneath the message, so the sender will know you received it, and other people privy to the conversation will be able to second your reaction. 

slack emoji

Upload Files with Ease

Want to send a file? Instead of emailing a dozen people the same document or presentation, all you need to do is select “attach file” at the bottom of your screen (below where you would type a message), select the source to upload it from and post it directly to a channel or DM. If it’s a Google document, you can even change the permission settings from Slack. 

Call Other Users 

Slack offers a native calling feature. Click on someone’s profile, hit the call icon, and talk to them as if you were speaking on the phone. Both audio and video calls are possible, so it’s unnecessary to use an external platform for remote meetings and conferences. 

Integrate Third-Party Apps 

It’s possible to integrate hundreds of third-party apps into Slack to facilitate your work. You can create a Slack poll for your colleagues to fill out with the Simple Polls app, video message with Loom, fulfill support tickets with Zendesk, upload files right from Google Drive, and use Slack on a big-screen with Enplug. Some apps are just for fun — Donut, for instance, connects coworkers who don’t interact as much so they can meet for casual conversation. 

To add an app, go to the app’s website or Slack’s app directory and select “Install.” 

If you’re new to working remotely, it’s time you learn how to use Slack. Fortunately, as robust and versatile as Slack is, it’s a straightforward, user-friendly platform that’s easy to get the hang of.