How Chatbooks uses Slack to empower working parents

Slack channels allow this remote team to coordinate across time zones, state lines and busy child care schedules

chatbooks working parents a parent and child sit together looking through photo books

Chatbooks is on a mission to serve working parents: not only with its products but through the flexible work opportunities it offers its team. Co-founded by Vanessa and Nate Quigley, Chatbooks creates photo books, photo prints, greeting cards and other accessories for families that are too busy to sort through thousands of photos in their digital albums.

In 2016, we met Chatbooks’ team of remote, part-time working mothers who call themselves the Momforce. These parents explained how flexible work opportunities allowed them to grow their careers while raising growing children.

“What I’ve found from my own experience—and what I’ve heard from others who’ve taken leave—is that Slack gives them a way to quickly understand what’s been happening while they were gone, and I think that’s really egalitarian.”

– Rachel Hofstetter, Chatbooks chief marketing officer
Rachel Hofstetter
Chatbooks chief marketing officer

Since then, Chatbooks has grown too. The Provo, Utah-based company now serves over 1 million Chatbookers and has added a variety of product offerings along the way. Rachel Hofstetter, Chatbooks chief marketing officer, says Chatbooks’ remote work policy has been key to the company’s success.

“We really want men and women to be able to take family leave when a new child joins their family,” she explains. “It’s an important thing we prioritize at Chatbooks. What I’ve found from my own experience—and what I’ve heard from others who’ve taken leave—is that Slack gives them a way to quickly understand what’s been happening while they were gone, and I think that’s really egalitarian.”

We caught up with the team again to see how Chatbooks’ use of Slack has evolved as its community of working parents continues to grow.

Managing Chatbooks’ remote workforce with dedicated Slack channels

Remote work is becoming commonplace, thanks to technology like shared workspaces, file sharing services and video conferencing. According to a 2017 Gallup survey, nearly half of the American workforce has spent some time working remotely. Worldwide, 70% of workers have telecommuted, according to the Swiss research firm IWG.

Chatbooks is participating in this global trend with the help of Slack channels—a single place for a team to share messages, tools and files. The Chatbooks team uses dedicated channels for communicating during the key stages of production. While all Chatbooks employees use Slack, it’s especially beneficial for the company’s remote workers. Here’s a glimpse into some of their favorite channels.

#Marching-orders: daily stand-up meetings

As director of support, Angel Brockbank’s responsibilities include assigning tasks to remote workers on her team. To keep conversations organized in a single place—and not distributed over multiple emails and threads—Brockbank created a channel called #marching-orders, which she updates every morning with assignments for the day.
chatbooks channels image
The channel serves one purpose, and Brockbank says that keeps conversations streamlined. Hofstetter adds that many other teams, from marketing to software development, also have their own channels for daily assignments and they use those channels to hold digital stand-up meetings two to three times a week.

#Queens-of-quality: product quality control

You probably don’t have time to sort and delete all those duplicate and blurry photos in your camera roll, but Chatbooks’ “Queens of Quality” do. This dedicated team handles image quality issues, and it documents conversations about product quality in the channel so other team members can quickly refer to solutions.

#Mayday: crisis communication

“We have many customers who add photos to their books via Instagram or other social media channels, so when a source like that goes down it’s an emergency,” Brockbank explains. So what’s a team to do? At Chatbooks, team members head to the #mayday channel to flag the problem for the team of people who can fix it quickly.

The holiday season is among the most hectic time for Chatbooks. Brockbank explains that the #mayday channel is particularly useful when winter storms delay Chatbooks’ deliveries. When the weather outside is frightful, the Chatbooks customer support team uses Slack to keep track of deliveries and keep customers in the loop.

Slack Tip: Triaging team requests

Set a designated channel, pin instructions on how to post project requests, then have others review and approve or deny them.

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#The-why: remembering the mission

In our recent Slack Future of Work study, we found that nearly 100% of employees across the U.S. want to feel more connected to their teammates and 85% of employees want to feel more connected to remote coworkers. The Chatbooks team is no exception.

“We want people to choose the type of jobs they want, whether or not they’re here in Utah, working full time, part time or jumping on a project while their kid is napping, and Slack helps with that.”

– Rachel Hofstetter, Chatbooks chief marketing officer
Rachel Hofstetter
Chatbooks chief marketing officer

When workers are looking for a boost of inspiration and connection, they can turn to #the-why to read and discuss customer stories. In particular, Brockbank described how a mother contacted Chatbooks after she lost her little boy to cancer. She thanked the company for helping her capture her son’s life with memorable keepsakes. The Chatbooks team shared her story in #the-why to remind employees how the work they do every day makes a difference.

“We want people to choose the type of jobs they want, whether or not they’re here in Utah, working full time, part time or jumping on a project while their kid is napping,” Hofstetter explains, “and Slack helps with that.” That kind of flexibility aligns with Chatbooks’ mission to serve busy families.

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Slack is the collaboration hub, where the right people are always in the loop and key information is always at their fingertips. Teamwork in Slack happens in channels — searchable conversations that keep work organized and teams better connected.