How to organize your Slack workspace

Travis Good
April 4, 2022

Slack is the platform for work communications. This communications takes different forms from employee to employee, public vs private, app to person, on and on. The workflow options for Slack are almost endless. With all of these options, Slack provides different kinds of spaces for the various types of communications. How you organize you Slack workspace should match how you organize work.

Slack organizes Slack workspaces into groups in the Slack apps. These groups are:

1. Connections: these spaces are for external channels, called Slack Connect, and external users called Guests.

2. Slack channels: these spaces are the primary place to interact in Slack (more below).

3. Direct messages: these spaces are meant for 1:1 and group conversations  (more below).

4. Apps: these spaces are for Slack App Directory apps.

For the purposes of this section, we are going to focus on channels and direct messages (DMs).

Channels

Slack channels can be organized around how you work - projects, tasks, teams, etc. Slack channels can be public or private. Channels can optionally have topics set and changed from time to time to explicitly direct conversations. There is not limit on the number of channels you create in Slack, though you should align the channels you create in Slack with how you organize work.

Public channels do not have all Slack workspace members in them but all workspace members can find and join public channels. Public channels in Slack are denoted with a “#” at the beginning of the channel name, like “#general”. Be mindful of what you share in public channels as anybody in the workspace can find and look through all messages in a channel.

Private channels are only discoverable by invite from a channel member. And content and files shared in private channels is only searchable by members of those channels. Private channels are denoted with a lock symbol at the beginning of the channel name. While these private channels are invite only, be cognizant of channel members when posting content. You can check private channel members in the Slack desktop app, web app, and mobile apps.

Direct Messages

Direct messages, or DMs, are private spaces that can be 1-on-1 or include a group up to 9 people (group DM). These are private spaces. Files and messages in DMs are only searchable by Slack users in those DMS.

If DMs grow beyond 9 people or if it makes sense to make DMs more of a permanent conversation, a DM can be converted to a private channel. When you convert a DM to a private channel, any member you add to the private channel will be able to view messages and files in the history of the DM.

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Context matters, especially with asynchronous communication in tools like Slack. Organization of your Slack workspace helps create context for how work gets done. Slack channels and DMs are the spaces that define context in Slack. Be aware of your space, Slack channel (public channel or private channel) or DMs, in Slack and use that context to inform how you interact and what content you share.