The best Slack bots for remote teams

Originally published to the International Association of Business Communicators’ Catalyst blog.

I’ve been working remotely for longer than I care to remember. One thing I have always missed is the randomness of office life. You just never know who you’ll run into in the kitchen or which new connection might be waiting for you around the corner.

For content creators and brand journalists, that type of serendipity brings with it not just story ideas but relationships that connect you more deeply to the organization.

So, after years of living in Slack, a free application for team communication and collaboration, I suppose I’m just as comfortable there as anywhere else. Which is why, when I recently started an EMBA (virtual of course), the first thing I did was install Snack, a Slack app that randomly connects colleagues for a conversation.

These apps do one thing really well: they bring back the random magic that is networking. Although nothing quite replaces waiting in line for a drink at an open bar at a networking mixer, this comes close! Just like waiting in line, you are randomly paired with someone to chat with. It enhances connections and builds organic bonds between teammates (and strangers, in the case of my EMBA classmates).

I’ve always enjoyed Slack apps as a way to infuse that serendipity into the sameness of our remote lives. I’ve tried more than I’d like to admit. Here are a few that I recommend. Give them a shot and see what happens — you just never know what will come of these random interactions.

One tip: like any other tool, adoption is a challenge. You must lead by example and be an advocate for participation; otherwise, these will be the latest discards on top of the tool graveyard.


Snack brings together random teammates for virtual icebreakers and “get to know you” games. The app prompts each participant at preset intervals, asking if they are available to take a “snack break.” Those who say yes are brought into a breakout room to chat, and a prompt starts the conversation. Free plans can have five-minute snack breaks on a single channel, while paid versions can add snack breaks to unlimited numbers of channels and set their own snack break time limits.


Donut takes connectedness to a new level. It not only randomly pairs colleagues for virtual coffees, but it also expands into peer learning, diversity and inclusion, mentorship, onboarding and other unique ways to build community and culture.

Donut calls these deeper conversations “connection programs,” a clever and refreshing way to nurture deeper connections among colleagues. Rather than a single interaction, the connectedness extends over time and becomes a core part of the company’s communication culture.

Random Coffees

Random Coffees is a Slack app that connects two different colleagues together each week via direct message. They can choose how to connect: over coffee, during a walk or whichever way works best for them. If you’re looking for a simple tool to facilitate virtual coffees, this is the one. It’s unfussy and easy to set up. The name is clear and the price is right: it’s free.


Hallway is meant to replace, well, the company hallway! The true spontaneity of the workplace often lies in the randomness of running into people as you walk to and from meetings, head out to lunch or come and go from your desk. Those types of interactions are replicated in this app, which encourages people to take a short break with co-workers.

Hallway is less scheduled than some of the other apps, which can make it feel less like another thing to do on the schedule and more like an actual break. I like Hallway because it’s similar to how office workers can take stock of their current productivity and decide to leave their desks for a little office walkabout. It’s a neat tool that really does provide a much-needed dose of socialization for those feeling disconnected during a long day of working from home.


Karma is a bit different than the other apps listed here. That’s because it’s not just about keeping those connections, but also building a culture of gratitude. It gives teams a way to show appreciation and acknowledge excellence. The “Karma bot” makes it easy for people to give micro-feedback and say thanks to one another.

Employees earn karma points, which can then be redeemed for real-world perks. You can set up those perks to be anything you’d like to incentivize your team in ways that fit your company culture. The disconnect between remote work and feedback is quite real. Reduce the isolation that comes from working alone by leveraging tools to show gratitude — it’s a major human motivation.


While we’re on the topic of recognizing colleagues as a means of connectedness, consider HeyTaco. If your culture is more playful, the mustached taco logo should give you a clear indicator that this app is for you.

The app is super simple and (unsurprisingly) uses the taco emoji as its main currency. Any time someone adds a taco to a message, it’s a sign of appreciation and also contributes to a leaderboard. Everyone can see who has earned the most tacos, adding a satisfying gamification element that is low-pressure and fun. Tacos also can be redeemed for rewards, which gives companies a way to craft incentives that work best for their specific workers.


You may also want to encourage your remote teams to check out privacy tools, such as these privacy apps for iOS and these privacy apps for Android. Remote workers are at risk of being hacked so privacy is especially vital during #WorkFromHome.

Why this untapped resource is your secret brand marketing hack

All brand marketers are looking for affordable AND effective channels to evangelize their company’s messaging. Yet, some overlook an untapped brand marketing resource right before their eyes: employees and contractors.

This cohort has a vested interest in seeing the company succeed. And, if the culture is strong, this audience has a passion to share their love for the company where they work. Even if the culture leaves a little bit to be desired, a savvy brand marketer or corporate communications professional will engage this group.

When done right, investing in this audience delivers dividends over time. Employees become part of a strategy to disseminate content and share brand values — all without spending much money.

Think of this as internal influencer marketing!

Identify internal influencers

Every community has influencers. Companies are no different. There will be thought leaders in each department, and oftentimes they’re not the people that you would expect. Make a list of those that you consider internal influencers and then methodically test this initial list against your own bias.

Consider things like social media presence, participation in company initiatives, activity on the company intranet, and contributions to external professional and community organizations. As a rule of thumb, you want to look for someone who has an engaging presence that other people respond to. It’s those kinds of people that Internal communications initiatives hinge on.

Segment smartly

Now that you’ve verified your internal influencer list, it’s time to segment. This stuff is often overlooked — because there’s never enough time. It seems slightly unnecessary and is an easy one to ignore when the to-do list is long.

However, we don’t recommend skipping this step. Ignoring the fact that different segments have different needs is dangerous. Without proper segmentation, the initiative is likely to fail. This is because the content cannot be effectively targeted to the right segment.

Remember that the goal is to match brand messages with internal influencers that are most likely to share them. And then once was messages are shared, those who follow those influencers will ideally engage with them. So if the message is not targeted to the individual, then the person who follows that individual is also less likely to engage.

Each organization will have its own segmentation. You might want to segment by department, by function, or by geography. Or perhaps you want to do it by which channel the influencers are most engaged with. This creates interesting opportunities to bring together those internal influencers who are very popular on Twitter, for example. This fosters a new type of community and the company, which encourages others to be active on these types of social platforms. By giving influencers a voice in the process, you foster ownership and increase the chances of success.

Assign a channels strategy to each segment

What’s you have your segments, you’ll have a pretty clear idea about which digital channels work best for those segments. You also should have some insights into which you might want to experiment with, such as increasing employee use of mobile apps or using a chatbot to engage with employees. In the most recent Gatehouse study, the majority of respondents were aiming to increase usage of mobile tools by employees, for example.

Data from Gatehouse 2018’s report on internal comms.

The reason for this step is that you want representation of influencers across the different channels you’re looking to engage with. This helps disseminate the content across as many channels as possible, increasing the ROI on content already created. It’s important to recognize that not all digital channels are created equally, just like all influencers are not the same.

Offer perks

While gamification and leaderboards have dropped out of favor, there is still a place for healthy competition in the workplace. Consider deploying tools, such as EveryoneSocial, that automate much of this employee engagement. These tools can help you segment as well, saving time and making it easier for you to push out different types of content with the employees. These types of programs are solid extensions of an existing company Internet.

Remember that any perks you offer must be managed. So if you’re going to do a leaderboard, especially via vendor, you’ll need to allot resources to manage the project. You can offer other perks, just be sure that you deliver those perks accurately as promised and on time. Disillusionment is easy when promises are made and not kept. Take pictures of any perks earned by employees — and promote those as well!

Sometimes a perk is simply an acknowledgment. Whether via the company intranet or a companywide announcement, acknowledging those who are strong advocates for the brand sets an example for the rest.

Bonus points if you can convince your executives to lead by example and develop strong sharing sensibilities across the most important digital channels. Gallup found that only 13% of employees strongly agree that their leaders are effectively communicating with the organization — a cogent strategy that involves leaders could provide organizational benefits beyond free distribution for your brand marketing messages!

And…don’t forget your customers!

Sales enablement often gets all the attention when it comes to creating content that converts potential customers. But don’t forget your existing customers! They can be a fantastic resource for sharing content, and generally evangelizing your brand.

Whether it’s creating an official ambassador program, or simply emailing relevant articles for sharing, craft a strategy that works for your company. Clients are usually more than happy to share content from companies they love, especially if the company is responsive and relationship-oriented.

When it comes down to brand marketing, it’s about engaging those who care the most to disseminate the messages that matter the most. Take the time to invest in a program upfront, and the return on this minimal investment will only grow over time!