Responding To A Crisis: How Slack is coping during the outbreak of COVID-19

This week we’re chatting to Slack about how they’ve been coping with the outbreak of COVID-19.

It has been very uplifting seeing companies face the COVID – 19 challenges head-on with humanity, creativity and kindness. When things are going well, it is easy for a leader to do their job, however, during these tough times, it becomes a lot more challenging.

As we’ve mentioned before, companies will be remembered for their response to this global pandemic.

And so, we decided to chat to some well known businesses, and see what they’ve been doing to help their staff during this period.

This week, we’re chatting to Slack, the international software company founded in 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It has become an invaluable source of collaboration for millions all over the world during the outbreak of the Coronavirus.


Business is booming, but according to Emily Parsons, associate workplace manager of Slack’s London office, the company has not been left unaffected by the global pandemic.

“All of our offices have closed for the foreseeable future and there’s uncertainty around when we’ll reopen and how we’ll manage to work remotely for the next few weeks (or even months). This is new for everyone.”

With such a strong and established company culture, the big thing right now is holding on to that. The main thing that Slack is doing to help their company culture during this time? Maintaining regular check-ins with employees.

“Our staff has missed the ability to direct quick, one-off questions to colleagues sitting nearby. In its place, our leadership team is hosting hourlong Zoom calls—virtual office hours—so that people can join to ask questions or chat when needed.”

“We’ve moved our most vital pre-existing team meetings, such as our twice-weekly sales and customer success huddles, to Zoom. In addition, we’re checking in with each other more often and more casually too. For example, my team is meeting a few times a week for 20 minutes, just to check in with each other and give updates on our projects.”

It seems to be the little things that are keeping everyone in Slack happy and content in their new working setup. Simple things like virtual coffee mornings, and online quizzes are what’s keeping the culture alive. 

“When I work from the office, I often head to our local coffee shop with some colleagues as a quick break from work. In place of this, I’ve set up ‘coffee catch-ups’ with a few people to keep relationships strong and make sure I’m not working non-stop all day.”

Then, of course, there’s the after work fun! 

“The idea of 30+ people on one Zoom call, trying to talk over each other, sounded chaotic. So we structured the event through a digital pub quiz.”

“With drinks in hand and virtual backgrounds set, the host asked questions over Zoom and teams discussed their answers in group direct messages over Slack. Then, final answers were submitted through Workflow Builder, a tool that can automate form collection in Slack and route completed answers back to the host.”

Genius, simple and very fun. 


Ultimately, Emily says it’s all about balance, and finding what works. 

“While there are many fun ways to keep culture alive within Slack, these moments should not become a distraction. Working remotely doesn’t mean work stops. We still have a job to do and more than ever we need to be on the ball for our customers.

“Our objective is to find the happy medium; for our team members to feel engaged and connected through some light-hearted in-channel fun, yet focused enough so that they can do their best work.”

Sounds like a fantastic approach! 

To learn more about Slack, head over to their Jobbio profile now!


Author Rebecca O'Keeffe

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