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Slack channel at EECS an immediate success

Sonja Berlijn portrait
"A great value with Slack for me as school principal is to be able to reach out quickly with uniform information", says Sonja Berlijn, Head of School at EECS.
Published Jan 19, 2022

Since the 2021 spring semester, the entire School of Engineering and Computer Science, EECS, has communicated internally via Slack.

“The switch to the Slack channel has exceeded expectations. We know that it takes time to find the right one in a new medium and we are well on our way,” says Head of School Sonja Berlijn, who was behind the initiative.

As early as her fourth day as Head of EECS, Berlijn had to deal with two urgent incidents at the School; a break-in and a fire.

“I felt as though I could not inform our employees as effectively as I would have liked, plus my email box had already reached its maximum limit. So I got in touch with the IT Department and told them about Slack, one of the standard tools at KTH,” she explains.

A collaboration between EECS and the IT Department  was immediately started to enable the School to make a general migration to Slack, and implementation only took around three weeks.

“One success factor was that we migrated all departments and employees to Slack at the same time. The new communication channel gained over 1,000 employees almost overnight,” Berlijn says.

What are the biggest advantages of Slack?

“That users are not afraid of sending direct messages to each other and to groups without risking the ‘spam effect’. Large volumes of email that are saved or archived have been a bit of a work-related headache at KTH, but the KTH Slack Workplace tool automatically deletes all messages after 90 days.”

“We also see longer Slack messages, and Slack should not replace e-mail, but act as a complement.”

The Chat function in Slack means employees can communicate quickly and clearly with emojis and quick dialogues in writing in real time.

“We have made it clear that the tone should be in line with the KTH ethics policy. And so far, I have not heard of any problems arising with Slack communication between employees,” says Berlijn.

Customised channels

“One big advantage with Slack for me as Head of School is that I can reach out with coherent information very quickly. If, for example, I have had a meeting with the President, I can share the notes from the meeting with everyone concerned, simply and easily. And if the Covid rules are changed, I can share a link to the latest information on the website via Slack. The information flow moves incredibly quickly.”

Different channels within Slack have different target groups and purposes, and both managers and employees can go in and create their own customised channels.

“You follow the channels you want and need. We have also created simple rules for how you ‘kill’ channels, so we don’t have a load of unused channels that stay in the system.”

Sonja Berlijn is keen to stress that using Slack has reducing the workload of KTH employees within service, infrastructure and IT.

“This is because employees can very easily tap into each other for advice and help in finding solutions to different issues via Slack communication. You get the opportunity to "overhear" a discussion and learn more from colleagues without actively participating in the discussion.”

Katarina Ahlfort
Photo: Johanna Järnfeldt

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Last changed: Jan 19, 2022