Slack just became the latest company to embrace real-time audio. The messaging app is launching a new, Discord-like chat feature . The feature, along with new collaboration tools for sharing pre-recorded audio and video are, according to the company, meant to provide an alternative to the “endless stream of meetings” that have dominated many office workers’ calendars during the pandemic.
Huddles allows Slack users to create impromptu meetups either in direct messages or an existing channel. When a participant starts a Huddle, other members can quickly join and chat in real time, much like you would in Discord. Though it’s meant to be “camera-free,” Huddles does support screen-sharing for an extra layer of collaboration.
Slack says the feature is a good alternative to voice or video calls because it’s a more low-pressure way for workers to quickly chat without the need to schedule a meeting. Tamar Yehoshua, the company’s chief product officer, compared Huddles to the kinds of impromptu conversations that happen in offices but don’t often occur with remote work. “It’s as if you see people congregating in a conference room and you just stick your head in and then leave when you’re ready,” she said during a briefing with reporters.
While Slack is the latest in a long list of companies embracing the audio trend kickstarted by Clubhouse, the company says it’s responding to the way that work has changed during the pandemic. After more than a year working from home, is real. At the same time, many workers may back to the office — at least, not full-time. So it’s not surprising Slack would respond to these shifts.
Similarly, the company is also addressing the need to collaborate when everyone isn’t online at the same time. The feature it recently previewed will now be rolling out. And the app is introducing new tools to share videos, voice and screen recordings within Slack.
While the app already allows users to swap video files within chats, the new tools go a step further. Users can record and share natively within a channel, and other team members can respond with a video or voice recording of their own. They also include live captioning, and both the recording and the accompanying transcription are searchable after the fact.
Finally, Slack also showed off a new directory tool for its business users called Slack Atlas. The feature adds more information to Slack’s existing profiles, such as org charts and employee start dates. It can also integrate with existing tools like Workday to automatically pull in relevant details to workers’ Slack profiles.