Being a fully remote team means that we rely heavily on the tools that can help us connect and communicate with each other from anywhere in the world. One of the main tools our team uses for communication is Slack, a tool that allows us to send quick chat messages with each other either in public or private channels or direct messages.
While we love and use Slack constantly, we also set firm boundaries with it. We do this because it can be easy to believe that being logged into Slack means that someone is “at work,” which isn’t how we view or use Slack. (Here’s more on our 10 Slack agreements.)
That being said, we also want to take full advantage of the opportunity that Slack presents for us to create deeper connections between teammates (some of whom have never met in person) and facilitate stronger communication as a team. This is why we’ve adopted several Slack bots that help us do just that! Here are the 8 that we use as a team and the 9 others that we haven’t used yet but are thinking about.
Before we dive in – do you know what Slack stands for? That’s right, it’s an acronym! Take a few minutes to think it over and we’ll reveal the answer at the end of this post. 😉
Slack Bots and Apps We Use At Buffer
Here are the Slack bots and apps we currently use on the Buffer team.
Though we all have profile photos, and most of us have met in person at Buffer, there’s nothing like adding a little personal touch to interactions and Bitmoji does just that. Bitmoji lets anyone create a personal emoji that looks just like them. So when it’s time to celebrate in Slack or anytime someone wants to add a little personal flair, teammates often share their personal Bitmoji.
The integration in Slack lets you start with the Bitmoji command and then type in a word to describe the kind of Bitmoji you’d like to share.
Here’s one of the Bitmoji results from me typing “happy birthday.”
Who doesn’t love donuts? Well, the Donut bot for Slack helps pair up team members to get to know each other better. Donut can be set to pair new teammates together every one-to-four weeks. This is incredible for us at Buffer as being remote means we have to be intentional about creating opportunities for teammates around the world and across teams to connect, Donut helps us do just this.
We have a channel in Slack called #people-pairs and once you join Donut will pair you with a new Buffer teammate every Sunday night so you’re ready to plan your week on Monday. Often teammates will aim to have their pair calls once or twice a week.
Having teammates from different teams (ie. marketing, engineering, advocacy) being randomly paired up is not only great for bringing the whole Buffer team closer together but it also opens up conversations to more collaboration across sections.
This is a Buffer-wide favorite. The day it was discovered we were all eagerly watching the leaderboards to see each other’s progress. FaceGame is an app from Officevibe described as an activity to make sure everyone knows each other within the company. The goal is to match as many names with the right picture in 30 seconds. The score you will get is based on a combination of time it took to complete the game and the number of correct answers you got.
Here’s the leaderboard for Buffer:
(As you can see, Colin is totally crushing it.)
This is a super fun application and an awesome way for all Buffer teammates to get better at identifying each other’s photos. This is especially great for new teammates who haven’t had a chance to meet everyone in person at a retreat just yet.
What would communication be without gifs? This is the perfect way for teammates to express how they’re feeling since we can’t jump up and down with happiness together all that often.
Giphy lets you search from the world’s largest library of animated GIFs, making it easy to find and share them on Slack.
We often use gifs during celebrations at Buffer to emphasize how we’re feeling.
HeyTaco quickly became a favorite at Buffer. It started out being used by only one team and was quickly adopted across our whole company. HeyTaco lets you recognize a teammate by giving them tacos when they accomplish something great! Then, that teammate can redeem their tacos for custom rewards.
HeyTaco is wonderful for helping our team spread recognition and excitement plus making sure that achievements don’t go unnoticed. Often times when one person gives another a taco, it’ll become a “taco train” with others jumping on board to add to the celebration.
To send someone a taco all you have to do is @-mention their name in Slack and add in the :taco: emoji. Each person is allowed to give out five tacos per day.
Who doesn’t love tacos? 🌮 🌮 🌮
Leo is another Officevibe creation! It’s used by our People team to measure and improve employee satisfaction and happiness right from Slack. Leo does this by popping into Slack with survey questions for teammates and gathering the anonymous data for our People Team to analyze later.
The great thing about Leo is that each employee can set the time and day they’d like to receive their survey reminders. So if Tuesday’s are really busy for them then they can set the reminder for another day.
Leo comes with pre-populated questions to help with measuring specific categories of employee happiness, but our People Team can also choose to add in their own questions if there’s something specific they are curious about.
This app also creates a space for employees to leave anonymous feedback and have their feedback and questions responded to by the People team.
Slackbot already comes installed in Slack, so unlike the other apps we’ve mentioned, teams already have access to this one. There are so many ways to use Slackbot. Some popular ones include using it to find answers to questions about Slack, adding customized automatic responses and accessing personal reminders and tasks.
At Buffer, we’ve used the customized automatic responses to help share our values with the team regularly. So whenever anyone says the word “values” Slackbot pops up and shares one of our values with us. It’s sometimes amazing how pertinent the value that was shared is to the conversation!
Possibly the most used app within all of Slack for us is Zoom. This is because we have a lot of video calls to replace in-person meetings. From any channel in Slack, you can start an instant meeting by entering the /zoom command.
To give an idea of how often this one is used, in 2017 we had an average of 25 meetings per workday plus we spent a total of 1,050,000 minutes on Zoom.
Slack Bots and Apps We Admire
There are so many great Slack bots and apps out there to help facilitate team bonding and help remote workers. The ones above are the few we’ve used but we’ve also created a list of awesome Slack bots and apps we haven’t used yet but admire. Maybe one day they’ll get added to the team Slack!
Allie is a Slack bot for inclusion at work. By bringing to light subtle bias or “microaggressions” that may otherwise go unnoticed (interruptions in meetings, uncomfortable jokes), Allie helps intervene before it becomes a problem.
Disco helps your team recognize one another’s contributions, big and small, and quantifies that feedback to keep your culture on track.
Humblebot gives you advice every morning on how to be a better human being. Examples of advice includes: “Send someone a thank you note today” and “Ask someone for their opinion today”.
Icebreakers help your teams get to know each other by sharing fun facts with each other.
Oskar the squirrel bot asks your teammates on Slack how they’re doing once a day. He is easy to satisfy but can be quite persistent if you don’t reply. That’s because he takes his job seriously (like all of his non-squirrel teammates) and wants to make sure that everyone on the team is OK.
Paperbot collects and organizes your most valuable content shared on Slack. It helps your team never miss another link again.
Polly the parrot bot shares surveys and polls with your team right in Slack when you have something to ask them.
Tettra is a knowledge management tool for teams, they make it easy for anyone to contribute knowledge that the whole team has access to.
Vibe is a morale meter for teams. It helps managers see how employees feel in real time, and what causes their mood to change.
Over to you
So what does Slack’s name mean? Slack stands for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge, a very practical name.
What Slack bots and apps do your team use and why do you love them? We’d love to hear in the comments!
Cover photo by Georgia de Lotz