It used to be that the mark of a “fun” office was a foosball table crammed into the break room.But Slack makes the workspace itself feel like a game.First, they programmed Slack so that “anytime I said anything, it came out as a GIF,” Thomas says.
Each of her new colleagues is fitted with a little green dot that says: Slack founder Stewart Butterfield tells me that his “background in game development really helped in designing Slack”—the company started as an internal messaging system for developers of Butterfield’s now-shuttered video game project —because whether you’re trying to coax users into an immersive online gaming world or immerse them in their job, “you have so little time to attract their attention,” he says.
“Every little thing counts.” And Slack is loaded with little things.
, have created little emoji of each other’s faces that they use to further develop their lovingly antagonistic office relationship: Goldman drops a P. face in Slack to try to get his attention; Vogt inserts the Alex face to signify “bad news.” favors a custom emoji of Outward editor Bryan Lowder with a toboggan Photoshopped onto his head; when editors drop into a private group to workshop headlines, they announce their presence with a taco emoji.
When my friend Thomas, a 28-year-old designer, started work at a tech startup in San Francisco, he found that the office had customized its Slack to execute an elaborate hazing ritual.
Trendy open-plan offices are infamous for their cacophonous din—they were originally designed to get workers across the office to strike up conversations that hopefully lead to innovative collaborations—but the Slack headquarters are “crazily quiet,” Butterfield says, because all the chatter has moved online.
In ’s New York office, managers sit in offices around the perimeter while the rank and file linger in the middle; while bosses are free to convene closed-door meetings, it’s hard for underlings to have a private word unless they physically leave the premises.
Last year blogger Beejoli Shah started to notice a curious new artifact populating her social media feeds: screenshots of office chats, mostly taking place in an upstart workplace communication tool called Slack.
At first Shah failed to see the appeal of sharing a few lines of water cooler conversation among co-workers that, more times than not, appeared basically unintelligible to outsiders.
When a new employee joins Slack for the first time, she’s greeted by Slack Bot, a chatterbot who will serve as her simplistic but well-mannered consort in her travels through the app.
Instead of asking employees to fill out a traditional profile form, Slack Bot engages the employee in repartee, asking for her name and title and thumbnail photo, all the while showing her how chat works before she tries it with actual humans.
(staffers to guess how many messages are public, answers ranged from 20 percent to 80 percent; that’s a long way from 4 percent.