Evaluating Apps for Slack and Microsoft Teams
One of the reasons end-users love workstream collaboration platforms is the plethora of third-party apps that help them more efficiently do their work. However, not all apps are created equal. Some introduce security concerns, especially where excessive permissions must be granted to the application. Successful management of apps for Slack and Microsoft Teams and other platforms allows these extensive permissions to be carefully evaluated before being enabled by end-users.
Beyond the third-party applications which introduce security issues, there are also a number of other apps that are problematic because they are just as capable of destroying productivity as promoting it. For instance, there are a number of social-focused bots and applications covering everything from office ping pong scores to sharing YouTube videos. The two primary ways these types of apps affect productivity are through deep, time-sucking engagement or by bombarding end-users with notifications.
To be fair, always-on productivity is not the ultimate collaboration goal and does not promote healthy collaboration. Bonding with fellow team members and maintaining work-life balance are absolutely valuable pursuits that can be enabled by social apps. Indeed, some of these apps might be that extra kick that keeps your end-users on a positive adoption trajectory. On the other hand, these applications could be the first step down a path that leads to digital dysfunction, related to overuse of digital technology. This type of technology overload is associated with a 70% increase in depression symptoms. In deciding which apps to allow, IT must carefully evaluate all apps and scenarios to determine the right balance for the organization.
Beyond determining whether there is user interest in a particular third-party app and evaluating security concerns over excessive permissions, user productivity is a primary concern. Still, many social apps sit at the tipping point between distracting and useful. There are a couple factors to consider when evaluating whether to allow an app on the productivity borderline. The first is user enablement philosophy: to what extent do you allow users the freedom to make their own choices? The next is adoption risk: how likely are end-users to continue to use the workstream collaboration platform and will this social app make it stickier?
Our team tried out a variety of apps for Slack and Microsoft Teams and arrived at a Top 10 list of apps that have the potential to engage your users in all the wrong ways.
YouTube for Teams
YouTube for Teams enables users to search for YouTube videos directly from within Teams. Users can find and share a recent webinar quickly, without having to leave the centralized workspace. The app also allows users to set a YouTube video as a tab, which could support a welcome video, explaining the purpose of the team, or a tutorial on using the new travel expense software. However, there are a multitude of unproductive ways this app can be used. It’s now easier than ever before to trade YouTube videos back and forth, whether it’s old Saturday Night Live skits or the latest cat videos.
Rock Paper Scissors for Slack
The childhood game has gone digital! This app will proctor a game of rock-paper-scissors between fellow Slackers. This app could be a whimsical way to make arbitrary decisions, such as who gets to pick the team lunch spot or track down the new bug. On the other hand, players can spend hours optimizing their strategy for the more advanced rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock, which introduces two additional hand signs.
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Giphy for Teams and Slack
Giphy offers an extensive library of GIFs for every purpose, whether that’s reacting to a teammate’s bug fix or conveying a deep love of cheese. While some might view GIFs as frivolous, they add some much-needed levity and sometimes a GIF encapsulates reactions more efficiently than words ever could. Giphy works slightly differently on each workstream collaboration platform. For Teams you choose the GIF, but in Slack, you shuffle,…… and you can shuffle for hours.
HeyTaco for Slack
This app helps teammates celebrate each others’ positive contributions. The idea is similar to giving kudos, but with tacos instead. If a person receives enough tacos from others, this levels up the type of recognition they can give to include other fun emojis or GIFs. This type of recognition for good work creates a sense of belonging crucial to employee retention. Of the “celebrating teammates” apps we tried, this was the most engaging. However, if there’s heavy usage of the app, you can find yourself hit with a barrage of taco notifications.
Twitter for Teams and Slack
The Twitter app funnels tweets into your preferred workstream collaboration platform. The app can serve as a way to centralize all incoming social media posts in a single channel so as to avoid the process of checking multiple accounts. On the other hand, it can result in a cacophony of notifications. Now you can be alerted on Twitter, email, and as many channels as you’d like, all at the same time!
Chat and Slash for Slack
If you’ve ever wanted to play a full text-based role-playing game in Slack, now you can. Surprisingly deep and engaging, Chat and Slash narrates the user’s progress through Slack messages and gives them options for how to explore the digital world. If you’re really struggling with adoption on Slack, this could be a way to get users to engage, but mostly it’s a good activity for break-time.
Beer Time for Slack
Beer Time ensures that the entire office knows when it’s time to go get beer. A digital alternative to the thirsty coworker that rounds up the usual crew, Beer Time allows users to set Beer Time on any given day of the week, as well as query when the next Beer Time will be. This app may serve as a handy reminder to leave the office and maintain that work-life balance, or it could simply be an encouragement to drop whatever you’re doing and go drink.
Emojify for Slack
Emojify aids users in turning posts into a string of semi-intelligible emojis, replacing your intended words with emojis that hopefully convey the message you were trying to get across. If there’s ever been a need to obfuscate meaning, this app is guaranteed to confuse and delight users. One could argue that Emojify is a fun way to bridge the generational gap to understand the use of emojis in a fun and playful way. However, for clarity’s sake, we recommend limiting use of this app.
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icanhazdadjoke for Slack
This app sends random puns or a play-on-words joke on a particular topic of choice when prompted. While this app is very light-hearted, it does teach the basics of text-based app usage in Slack in a fun way, and you can’t help but share some of these with your coworkers. There is surprising depth to the random jokes with few repeats, and groans are all but guaranteed. If users find themselves sorely lacking in bad puns, icanhazdadjoke may just save the day.
Secret Santa for Slack
There really is a Slack app for everything. For the holidays, you can run a Secret Santa on Slack. This app will randomly assign each person in the group their own Secret Santa. Arguably, this may require less effort than passing around a hat full of names.
Balancing Productivity Versus Distraction
Third-party apps offer end users a number of interesting ways to engage on workstream collaboration platforms. When choosing which apps for Slack and Microsoft Teams (and other collaboration platforms) to allow, it’s best to understand first, whether users desire the application. Then, IT must decide whether the app is to be trusted with the permissions requested. Lastly, IT should determine whether the application strikes the right productivity balance. However, as we’ve seen, some applications can be used for both good and ill. As such, a final evaluation can be oriented around understanding how end-users are truly interacting with apps. Knowing which third-party apps users are running and taking an active role in app management are important tasks. Tools like PowerSuite identify apps in use, calculate the risk score associated with each, and allow IT administrators to take action from a single admin console across multiple platforms.