Slack

Slack is a popular workplace chat and instant messaging service. You can access Slack through a webpage, or through downloadable desktop and mobile apps. It’s a great way to have informal conversations without necessarily being in the same room.

Organizations set up their own shared Slack hubs, called Workspaces. Emerson College’s workspace is hosted at emersoncollege.slack.com. Anyone with a current Emerson email can join this workspace: this includes students, faculty, and staff. Go to emersoncollege.slack.com and log in with your Emerson account via Duo.

The Emerson College Slack is on a Business+ Plan, allowing the features detailed on Slack's plans breakdown page for Business+, including unlimited integrations. Only active Emerson staff, faculty, and students have access to Slack.

Using Slack at Emerson

Slack’s online help center has a trove of useful guides covering the basics of how to use it. Meanwhile, this article addresses best practices on how we use Slack here at Emerson.

Sensitive, Confidential, and Personally Identifiable Information

Do not share sensitive files or information through Slack, even in private chats and direct messaging. Please refer to our Data Governance Policy for qualified means of transmitting sensitive, confidential, or personally identifiable information.

Retention

By default, conversations and files are retained for 6 months. Messages and files that are old than 6 months are then permanently deleted. This includes pinned messages.

Profile picture

When you first sign into Slack, your user picture will be a generic portrait silhouette, which you can change. Since we use Slack to communicate between campus departments, it’s helpful to use a picture that actually looks like you. And, of course, keep it professional.

Set your status

In Slack, you can set a status to let other people in your workspace know whether you are available or away. You can customize your own status, or choose from a list of pre-set options like Out sick or In a meeting. You can even schedule a virtual Do not disturb sign for when you’re off the clock.

Notifications

Slack offers an array of notification options, from in-app sounds and badges to email and mobile alerts. You can even customize what type of activity will notify you. Do you want to be alerted every time someone posts a message in a channel (Slack’s equivalent of a chatroom), or only if they mention your name or certain keywords? The customization options are extensive, so it’s worth exploring them!

@Mentions

Do you need to get someone’s attention? You can do this by mentioning their username. Just make sure you check their status first to ensure they’re available. If an immediate response is not required, consider sending an email instead.

Reduce the noise

Slack is an amazing tool that allows you to communicate quickly and easily with colleagues, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. There are built-in features that can help you reduce the noise.

Fine-tuning your notification settings, as we mentioned above, will do a lot to cut down on unnecessary disruptions by only alerting you to the things you want to know about.

You can go even further by muting entire channels so they won’t be highlighted in the sidebar every time a new message is posted. This is great for channels you don’t want to leave, but only need to check in on once in a while. Also, consider starring or categorizing your channels by section.

Sometimes, you need to just turn everything off for a little while so you can concentrate on a task. You can do this by turning on Do not disturb mode. It’s polite to post a quick message first, so your colleagues know you’re going to tune them out for a bit.

Google Calendar Integration

Slack's Google Calendar integration can be a great way to remind you of an upcoming meeting or get you to a Zoom link quickly. Also, with this integration enabled, your name will have a small calendar icon next to it when you're in meetings, and you can configure it to send you Slack messages to remind you that your meeting is about to start. To enable:
  1. Click More in the top left of Slack.
  2. Click Apps.
  3. Click or search for Google Calendar.
  4. Click Connect an Account.
  5. It will launch a web browser and show you the Google accounts you're logged into. Choose your Emerson account.
  6. Click Allow when it asks if you want to grant Slack access to your calendar.
  7. Click Open Slack when prompted.
  8. It will open "Google Calendar" in Slack under "Apps" on the left side. Under the Home tab, click Settings (to the right of Create Event) and go through your preferences. We recommend turning off daily digests and all day events, and keep meeting reminders, in which you can have it message you in Slack 1 minute (or 5 minutes, or whatever you'd like) before the meeting.

Zoom Integration

When working virtually, we often miss the ability to stop by someone's office to ask a quick question. With the Zoom Slack integration, you can Slack someone and request a quick Zoom and immediately provide them with an easy link to join you. Also, the Google Calendar integration described above will present a clear "Join Zoom Meeting" button if the Zoom meetings was created with Google Calendar.

This integration is already enabled for Emerson College's Slack workspace, so all you have to do to start a Zoom meeting is send /zoom in a message, and watch the magic happen!

Etiquette

Slack is a great way to quickly communicate with individuals or groups at Emerson. First and foremost, it is a collaboration tool, making it easy to solicit feedback for a project, announce free food, and engage in general conversation! Unlike email or ticketing systems, Slack allows Emerson community members to communicate quickly without requiring immediate or formal response.

Since it is one of Emerson’s official communication tools along with desk phones and email, please:

  • Refrain from using profane language, unprofessional discussion (i.e., disparaging a person, department, event, etc.), or conversation that violates the Emerson Code of Community Standards (http://www.emerson.edu/code-community-standards).
  • Never share confidential, sensitive, or personally identifiable information, even in a private message. This includes passwords, privileged information, and confidential data.
  • Be thoughtful about speculating or making statements that could be construed as factual. Allow the owners of that information to make official announcements in the manner they best see fit (email announcement, newsletter, etc.).
  • Be inclusive when creating a channel, just as you would an in-person meeting or conference call. When you are done with a channel you’ve created, please ask IT to archive it.
  • Recognize that Slack is a collaboration tool and not a ticketing system or task list. Feel free to ask any questions or request quick favors, but do not use it as a means to request formal service from a department.
  • Keep social/non-work discussion to a reasonable amount. Slack is a terrific platform for socializing and building community, but some co-workers may find it difficult to keep focused on their tasks while using Slack.
  • Get creative with emojis, collect feedback, and get to know your colleagues at Emerson! Enjoy Slack!
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