How We Work

Slack is for Friends, Too

How we use Slack to build the Lickability community

Because we’re a small company, we like to make an effort to welcome people outside of our 7-person office into the Lickability community. The best way to do that, we’ve found, is to invite friends (and friends of friends) of the company to join the Lickability Slack.

A screenshot of a Slack conversation with our friends, saying hello.

How?

The full-time team at Lickability has 7 people, but the #general channel in our Slack has almost 30 members. That’s because we’ve filled it up with smart, interesting people who we find valuable to have in our virtual office. #general (and other public channels like #food and #music and #games) is our water cooler; it’s a place where we can take a quick break from work and catch up with our friends. Or, in our #ask-anything channel, we can ask and answer questions anyone in the Slack might have — about engineering, designing, running a business, etc. We’ve also invited beta testers into our Slack as single-channel guests to give them a place to discuss the app they’re testing and give us direct feedback.

Our community extends outside Slack, too. We were lucky enough to meet up with some of our Slack members in San Jose at WWDC, and a few of us who are based in New York got together last week for drinks at one of our favorite cocktail spots in the city.

A screenshot of our Slack planning a cocktail night together.

Why?

The bottom line is we love our pals and we’re lucky to have such a great group of people in our community. Opening up our Slack to friends of the company has undeniably made our work life better. We’re not a large company, so it’s nice to bring in more folks to foster discussion, get different opinions on things, and just generally have a good time.

Should I do it too?

It depends. We’ve found a lot of value in having friends in our Slack, but there can be downsides. We have to keep most work discussions locked down in private channels, and (as anything) it can be a bit distracting to have non-work discussions on the clock. This might not be the best Slack strategy for larger companies, but we ultimately recommend it for anyone looking to foster a better community at work. Here’s how to do it:

  1. If you’re not sure who to invite to your own office Slack, look for people who share the same vision and goals as you, people you like working and getting lunch with, and a healthy mix of people both in your city and in others—the point is to get out of your small company bubble and to bring fun discussion and fresh perspectives into the mix.
  2. There’s no need to keep everybody confined to #general. If you don’t already have public channels for people to talk about things happening outside of your office, make some! A few of our favorites are #food, #games, #music, and #politics.
  3. We recommend making a Code of Conduct if you don’t have one already. It’s good to lay down a few ground rules for what’s okay and what’s not if you’re inviting people outside of the company in.
  4. Don’t forget to hang out with your Slack friends IRL sometimes! It’s cool to chat online, but it’s even cooler to make an effort to see people face-to-face when you have the opportunity.

We certainly don’t have all the answers, but this is what works for us. If you decide to try it out, let us know! Or, if you’re a friend of the company and want to join our Slack, get in touch with us on Twitter at @lickability. We’d love to have you.

Jillian Meehan

Jillian Meehan

Jillian Meehan is an Operations Associate at Lickability. She loves good pizza and bad tweets.