Work updates in Instagram story-form through Slack

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 20: The logo for Slack is displayed on a trading post monitor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), June 20, 2019 in New York City. The workplace messaging app Slack will list on the New York Stock Exchange this morning. Shares of Slack were surging more than 60 percent over its reference price in early afternoon trading. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

Why Slack is taking inspiration from Instagram

  • Slack is looking to break reliance on text-based chat with new video features
  • The firm’s CEO didn’t hesitate to draw the comparison with Instagram and Snapchat

Instead of a daily standup meeting on Zoom or Webex each morning, what about pre-recording your update and adding it to your company’s version of Instagram Stories? 

That’s what business communication platform Slack seems to be going for, bringing voice and video into channels, in efforts to break up the drudgery and inconvenience of repeated daily meetings and overreliance on text-based messaging. 

Slack’s CEO Stewart Butterfield didn’t shy away from the comparison between the similarities between the feature and that of the social image sharing giant: “It’s very much like Instagram stories, or Snapchat Stories, but in Slack,” he told The Verge.

“There was a joke going around that soon all software will have it, and I thought that was funny at the time. But especially during the pandemic, and the difference in how we as a company are approaching work means it’s an idea that’s time has come.”

In addition, Slack users can also ‘push-to-talk’ and share voice messages with one another. The functions aim to offer a quick way to share team messages or status update without having to go through the rigmarole of an all-hands video conferencing session. 

The update, which is expected to come into effect at the end of the year, comes as the firm is looking to adopt user experience features that are familiar to the public from regular life in the consumer world and bring that to the enterprise. Communications tools providers are innovating to cater to a new way of working, and intuitive user experience that adds to productivity can help these platforms secure loyalty and market share. 

The company’s direct video and audio calling features haven’t been its strong suit as videoconferencing was never a core part of Slack, to begin with. However, Zoom’s success in 2020 has left Slack, and many other tech companies racing to adjust and offer something new. Slack partnered with Amazon earlier this year to switch to Chime for voice and video calling, and now it’s experimenting with features beyond traditional video calls.

“Let’s take what we love about video — seeing faces and places — and separate it from the constant pressure of video conferences and packed meeting schedules to help us stay aligned with teammates,” read an announcement from Slack. 

“Imagine the daily standup meeting that happens from 9 to 9:15 every morning. What if you could record your update at 8:53 am and watch the others at 10:51 when it’s more convenient for you? This gives people the information and updates they need, with a measure of flexibility that is usually missing in today’s setup.”

Additionally, Slack Connect — a secure direct messaging across the organization — will be created to allow companies to chat with each other, and is introducing a new verified badge so you know if the company contacting you can be trusted. A verified organization on Slack will be denoted by a checkmark. Slack is already working on verifying a select group of companies.

This is on top of the Managed Connections to be launched by Slack, which essentially lets your company’s IT admins pre-approve channel requests from certain trusted organizations. All of these new services are set to arrive in early 2021.