As Slack gathered with its growing customer base this week at the Frontiers Conference in San Francisco, it announced several enhancements to the product, including extending collaboration to folks who want to stick with email instead of hanging with their co-workers in Slack.
Some habits are tough to break, and using email as your file-sharing and collaboration tool is one of them. Email is great for certain types of communications, but it was never really designed to be a full-fledged communications tool. While a tool like Slack might not ever fully replace email, it is going after it hard.
But Andy Pflaum, director of project management at Slack, says rather than fight those folks, Slack decided to make it easier to include them, with a new email and calendar bridge that enables team members who might not have made the leap to Slack to continue to be kept in the loop.
Instead of opening Slack and seeing the thread, the message will come to these stragglers in their trusty old email inbox, just the way they like it. Earlier this month the company announced tighter integration between Slack and Outlook calendar and email (building on a similar integration with Gmail and Google Calendar), where emails and calendar entries can be shared inside Slack. Pflaum says that the company is trying to take that email and calendar bridge idea one step further.
The non-Slack users would get an email instead with the Slack thread. It bundles together multiple responses to a thread in which the person has been engaging in an email, so the recipient isn’t getting an email for every response, according to Pflaum.
The person can respond by clicking a Slack button in the email and having Slack open, or they can simply reply to the email and the response will go to Slack automatically. If they choose the former, it might be a sneaky way to get them used to using Slack instead of email, but Pflaum says that it is not necessarily the intent.
Slack is simply responding to a request by customers to have this ability because apparently there are a percentage of people who would prefer to continue working inside email. The ability to open Slack to reply will be available soon. The ability to reply to Slack with the Reply button will be available later this year.