How to get the most out of Slack

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:4 December 2019
Author:Good Practice Team
Approver:Good Practice Team
Who this is for:Members of the Government Statistical Service

Slack is a website and an app that can be used for collaboration. It allows you to find and communicate with colleagues across the GSS who may be working on similar projects to you.

It allows the right people and the right information to come together, helping everyone get work done.

The GSS has a workspace on Slack that you can join:

The cross-government data science partnership also has a Slack workspace you might find useful:

Join up!

It’s easy to join – simply create a Slack account and add yourself to the GSS workspace ( with your government email address.

You must sign-up with your government email address as we need to ensure everyone on the GSS workspace works in the government.


You can access Slack on an internet browser (internet explorer, chrome etc), but there is also an app. If you are using the desktop version, it is worth adding email notifications to your preferences to ensure you don’t miss anything useful. Click on your username (top of left sidebar) > Preferences > Notifications > Enable Desktop Notifications.

Make sure people know who you are

There is a searchable workspace directory which can be useful for finding colleagues across the GSS.

To enable this to work effectively, please ensure that your user name is in the standard format: firstname_lastname_departmentacronym, e.g. John_Smith_HMRC.

In the profile section add a photo and a few lines about your interests or skills.

Use it!

Make sure you use Slack – make logging in or checking notifications part of your daily routine.

Keep your information up to date

Ensure you keep your details up to date. If you move department, please update your username e.g. John_Smith_BEIS.

There is no need to open a new account, simply update your existing one with your new email address. Go to Profile & account > More Actions (the three little dots) > Account settings > Email address.

Be sensible

The platform is to be used for professional conversations. You should consider all posts as being in the public domain and should not post anything which is outside of your departmental policy.

You should be aware that anything posted on Slack could be subjected to Freedom of Information requests.

Establish networks

Connect with topic experts and colleagues with similar interests – join relevant channels, start conversations, ask for advice, find out who else is working on a topic.


Use slack to find out what other work has happened in your area of interest – are there any useful papers or tools? Is there someone you could collaborate with?

Advertise or look for jobs

Is there an opportunity in your team? Share the details and links to Civil Service Jobs on Slack. Looking for a secondment or similar? Ask your colleagues about opportunities available in their departments.

Share your work

Have you developed some fantastic code? Have you written an interesting report? Share it with your colleagues or ask for feedback.

Advertise events

Share details of upcoming conferences or events to your colleagues across government.

Share interesting articles or publications

Have you found something of potential interest or use to others? Share it with your colleagues.

Start a debate

Use Slack to as a way to converse on topics of interest. There is a useful poll tool you can use for easy research purposes or simply ask a question e.g. Should I use R or Python for my analysis?

Ask for help

Ask your colleagues for advice or support!

Slack channels

These are areas for conversations about specific topics. Here are some tips for using channels:

  • Look at the current channels – are there topics of interest? If so, simply click on channel and add yourself.
  • Introduce yourself on the channel and highlight your areas of interest or expertise.
  • Channels can be organised by team, project or whatever else is relevant to you – let us know if there is an additional channel you would like added.
  • Channels can also be made private to just invited members if that is needed.
  • Every channel should have a clear topic and purpose.
  • If a channel is no longer needed or used it will be archived.
  • Use message threads within channels to keep conversations organised.

Asterisks (*)

These can be used to make words bold

Underscores (_)

These can be use around text to make it italic.

Star icon

Keep track of useful conversations by tapping the star icon in the top right-hand corner. This will then add them to your favourites list on the top sidebar.


Tag your required audience to ensure they see your message. You can use @everyone for the entire network, @channel for a specific channel or @username for a specific person.

Slack search code

Search for conversations or threads by using the advanced search modifiers in the Slack search box. For example “in:[channel]” for messages and files in a specific channel or ”before:[date]”; “after:[date]”; “on:[date/month/year]”; or “during:[month/year]” to look for messages from a specific timeframe.

Review frequency:

This guidance is reviewed annually.

  • If you would like us to get in touch with you then please leave your contact details or email directly.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.