Slack Adds Audio Huddles for Quick Meetings While Offices Stay Closed



Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack Technologies, Inc., speaks in an interview outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York, at United States, Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Team communication app maker Slack said on Wednesday that organizations that pay for its software will have access to a new feature that allows coworkers to make fast audio-only calls in a given channel or direct message.

This feature is one of the few steps Slack has taken to better accommodate businesses that have not asked their employees to return to the offices they regularly used in the pre-coronavirus era. It could help keep customers who used Slack during the pandemic, and new customers could be interested. Keeping Slack growing is important. Salesforce said last month that it plans to complete its planned $ 28 billion acquisition of Slack by the end of the quarter that ends July 31.

Slack’s main competitor, Microsoft, doesn’t exactly offer something like Slack’s new Huddles feature. Microsoft has been working on improvements to its Teams communications app that could allow the software to perform well when some employees are remote and others in the office.

While some people in a channel participate in a Huddle, a person who does not wish to participate can follow the chat just by keeping an eye on the chat window. The transcripts appear there in real time, and they can be found later, Noah Weiss, Slack vice president of products, said in an interview on Tuesday.

Microsoft Teams can generate transcripts of meetings held in the app for later viewing by attendees. There are times, however, when a full video call in Teams, Slack, or another app might be too much work to organize for a group of people with varying hours. Caucuses can be useful for quick conversations, including the type that would happen during a coffee break, or the kind where a person would ask a coworker to come to their office to see something, Weiss said.

Slack also said that during the summer, paying customers can start posting voice, video and screen recordings. The transcripts of the videos will appear in the app’s search results. This way, people who no longer live in the same time zone do not need to call for a meeting. Instead, they can tune in at their own pace or read specific parts of the transcripts.

Weiss said that over the years, Slack has grown to nearly 3,000 employees during the pandemic, and some of his colleagues he has yet to meet. Slack publishes a directory called Slack Atlas, based on the Rimeto acquisition last year, which can help employees quickly learn about individual team members. Organizations that subscribe to Slack’s Business + and Enterprise Grid plans may pay extra to activate the feature.

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