Productivity

The complete guide to automating your Slack status

Communication is the backbone of any productive team. With remote work becoming increasingly popular, and more and more teams moving to distributed models, the ways we communicate at work are evolving--but not always for the better.

These days, workers are expected to communicate both synchronously and asynchronously on a number of communication tools. From emails to Slack, phone calls to video conferencing, in-person meetings, and beyond, it can be difficult to draw a line between our personal and professional lives. 

By automating these important communication tools, workers can create better work-life boundaries and feel empowered to design their optimal workday. For teams, this automation not only improves communications but the relationships between employees overall.

While it may seem simple, automating your Slack status can mean the difference between focus and distraction, chaos and calm, a good day and a bad one. When workers clearly communicate their boundaries, schedules, and needs, they open up opportunities for better trust and respect within their teams.

Ready to harness the power of your workday?  Below, we’ll walk you through the how, why, and when of automated Slack statuses.

What is a Slack status?

Your Slack status is a short message that shows up next to your screen name. It helps your team know if you’re available or away and lets them know what you’re up to throughout the day.

Slack statuses can be creative and quirky, such as promoting a favorite new song or making a clever joke. 

Or, they can be simple and instrumental, such as statuses used to tell colleagues when you are away from your desk or in a meeting. 

How to set a Slack status manually

You can update your Slack status manually within the app at any time.

Using an automated Slack status can ensure that you won’t receive messages during important meetings or breaks. It’s also a great way to set boundaries with your team and let them know when you’re available to talk and how quickly you might respond to a message.

Examples of common Slack statuses

📅   In a meeting

☎️  On a call

🤒  Out sick

🌴  On vacation! Back May 25th

🏡  Working remotely

🚌  or 🚴‍♀️  Commuting

What is Slack availability?

Your Slack availability is a colored dot that shows up next to your name. This shows your team whether you are active or away, or if you’ve paused your notifications. 

When set, your availability will show either a green circle, indicating you are active, or an empty circle, indicating you are away. 

🟢  Active

⭕  Away

How long does Slack show you as active?

Your availability is shown as active on Slack whenever the app is open on your desktop or mobile device.  After 10 minutes of inactivity, your availability will be shown as away. 

You can manually set yourself as active or away at any time, by clicking on your profile picture in the top right corner of the app. From there, click Set yourself as away or Set yourself as active depending on what your current availability is set to.

What is the Do Not Disturb function in Slack?

You can also set a Do Not Disturb (DND) function on Slack, to give yourself time for deep work.

Setting up Do Not Disturb automatically is a great way to create an ongoing schedule of work time, breaks, and focus.

You can set up Do Not Disturb manually by clicking on your profile picture in the top right corner of Slack. From there, hover over the Pause notifications button and set the amount of time you’d like to use DND. You’ll see options from 30 mins to Tomorrow, and even a Custom option. 

Here, you also have the option to Set a notification schedule which will create designated times that the DND function will be automatically triggered.

For example, if you don’t want to receive notifications after 6 pm on weekdays, this is a great way to set that boundary.

Once activated, the DND function shows up as a Z on your Slack availability. Notifications, sounds, and haptics will be paused during times when this function is set. 

Why should I automate my Slack status?

Automated Slack statuses are a great way to indicate to your team when you are available, away, or engaged in focused work time. By setting firm boundaries and muting notifications during important work sessions, teams can more effectively manage their working time.

While you can always update your Slack status manually, automated status updates are a great way to set distinct and repeating boundaries within your schedule.

For example, if you often find it hard to make time for a daily lunch break, creating a designated “🍴 On a lunch break” automated Slack status can help you build this routine.

As well, if you find yourself taking work home far too often, or dislike receiving work messages late into your evening hours, you can set an automatic Slack status that shows you are away or have your notifications turned off. This is a helpful way to build your ideal working week and also lets your team know that you won’t be responding during those hours. 

How can Slack statuses build team culture?

Healthy employee communication helps team members create better bonds with each other. This enables better collaboration and teamwork, as well as creating an environment of respect and trust that drives worker productivity.

By using automated Slack statuses, team members have the ability to clearly communicate when they are available or unavailable for communications. This gives them the power to design their workdays in a way that best suits their own productivity. 

When every team member feels comfortable in their working environment, trust is inherent. From there, it’s all about nurturing that trust, building respect, and encouraging personal boundaries to create a working environment that is truly individualistic

How Slack statuses can help you focus

According to a study done by the University of California, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get yourself back on task after being interrupted. This means if you’re in the midst of a deep work session and you’re getting bombarded with Slack messages, your productivity is decreasing with every new notification.

For modern teams, especially remote teams, this is a huge barrier to worker efficiency. 

Creating custom, automated Slack statuses can improve worker focus and productivity by muting channels, snoozing Slack notifications, and minimizing disruptions during important moments of focused work.

While manual Slack statuses can be helpful when inspiration strikes, automated Slack statuses can help you build specific blocks of focus time in your working day.

How Slack statuses can avoid awkward moments in the workday

We’ve all encountered an awkward situation at work where our boss or colleague questions where we are, what we’re doing, or how we’re doing it.

For most workers, these situations call into question our individual productivity and degrade our comfortability in our working environment.

All workers want to be trusted, have their time respected, and put their energy to use where it’s most meaningful.

In order to achieve this, workers need respect from the top down. This means no one is questioning their whereabouts or outputs throughout their working days.

By automating your Slack status, you can clearly communicate where you are, what you’re doing, and how you’re managing your day.

This will help you avoid another team member feeling annoyed that you didn’t answer their message right away. It can also help your boss understand not to message you while you’re on a designated break.

For workers, automated Slack statuses create clear boundaries for daily communications and collaborations.

For leadership and colleagues, automated Slack statuses manage expectations around worker availability.

What unique Slack statuses do teams use?

Slack statuses are completely customizable, so there are endless ways to get creative when creating your own.

Many teams have curated their own style when creating automated Slack statuses. Managers of company Slack accounts can also create Slack status suggestions for team members to choose from. 

Below, we’ve put together a list of common Slack statuses that teams are currently using.

For more fun status options, check out our Slack Emoji cheat sheet. You can also create a custom Slack emoji to use in your regular messages.

Focus time

💭  Focus time… DND

Lunchtime

🍴 Out to lunch… back at 1 PM

Daily exercise

🏋️  Getting some movement in!

Virtual coffee

☕Virtual coffee

Taking a break

😴Recharging… back in 20

How to automate your Slack status

Slack offers a number of ways to automatically set your Slack status through third-party apps.

With certain apps, like Holopod, you can set Slack to automatically detect your state of work based on the tools you are using. For example, if you are in a Zoom meeting, you might see a status like this: 

slack zoom status example

Here are some of the apps you can use to automate your Slack status:

  • Holopod
  • Google Calendar
  • Zapier
  • RescueTime

How to automate your Slack status with Google Calendar

The Google Calendar app for Slack allows you to sync your GCal with your Slack status. This means if you have a scheduled meeting, your Google Calendar integration will automatically update your Slack status to “In a meeting” at the scheduled time.

Google Calendar will also send you notifications directly in Slack to inform you when a meeting is approaching. 

The GCal integration will never override a status you have set for yourself, so keep this in mind if you’ve already created a custom status for the day. 

If there are any overlapping events, Slack will set your status to match the event that starts first or that lasts longer.

How to automate your Slack status with the Holopod Smart Calendar

The Holopod Smart Calendar works much like the Google Calendar app, but it takes your automation abilities a step further.

With this app, you can sync both your Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar to your Slack channel in order to maximize the effectiveness of your Slack status.

You can also use this app to automatically trigger Do Not Disturb and create customized statuses while in that state.

For example, if you have a calendar event that has the word “coffee” in it, you can program Slack to trigger a  “☕” status. This means that regardless of whether your event is, “Coffee with Ana” or “Virtual coffee” or “Out for a cup of coffee…” your Slack status will automatically update itself accordingly. 

Here are a few other automatic Slack statuses you could trigger:

  • 🧸 Picking up the kids
  • 🧠 Collaboration time!
  • 🍽️ Daily lunch break

How to automate your Out of Office status with Holopod

If you’re going on vacation or have an important dentist appointment scheduled, you may want to set up an automated Slack status to inform staff and teammates that you’ll be away.

With Holopod, you can easily set and schedule your OOO time in advance. This will automatically update your Slack status and snooze notifications during the specified time.

To do this, go to app.holopod.com  and click on the Calendars tab. 

Next, add in your vacation dates. You can also import this data from your calendar by clicking Connect calendar.

You can choose to create a custom status that lets your team know when to expect you back and that you are away.

When the time for your vacation comes around, Holopod will automatically display a vacation status and snooze any incoming notifications so you can relax and enjoy your time off.

example of automatic vacation status in Slack

How to clear a Slack status 

If you like sticking to a steady routine, automating your Slack status is a great way to set a schedule. But, what if you want to clear your Slack status manually  as well? Say, after finishing a deep work session or your morning workout early.

You can clear your Slack status manually at any time by clicking on your profile in the top right corner and then clicking Clear Status. Or, while on the Set a Status screen.

When you pause your notifications manually, you will see Slack’s built-in options for 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, Tomorrow, or Custom status updates. Once selected, your Slack status and availability will automatically clear and change at the specified time.

example of different time options for automatically clearing your slack status

For example, if you choose to trigger Do Not Disturb every weekday at 6 pm, your Slack status will automatically change from available to away and your notifications will be paused. 

Automated Slack statuses help you do better work

Ultimately, the more pieces of your daily routine you can automate, the more time you have to focus on your work.

Automating your Slack status allows you to combine your calendar events, daily schedule, and focus time with your most-used daily communication tool. This creates a cohesive, easy-to-follow schedule that lets you make time for important breaks, lunch, and focus time. 

As well, it gives you an opportunity to set clear boundaries with your colleagues, which gives both them and you more peace of mind in the workday.

Remember, automating your Slack status isn’t the only way to improve your Slack productivity. Other features, such as Slack read receipts, or muting your Slack channels can help you build in focus time and get more productive work done. 

Did this post get you excited about Slack automations? Sign up for Holopod today to start improving your Slack experience.