Mindful Slack status messages

Written on May 19, 2022
Updated on January 10, 2024

Communication is key in any organization.

In a distributed (remote) company, it’s even more important.

Slack has become one of the essential tools for remote work.

While Slack is good for synchronous communication, it is also good for asynchronous communication. Especially in the form of status messages.

Status messages can be an effective way to communicate to your co-workers about when they can expect a response to something they need.

Here are a few examples of status messages that I’ve found useful when communicating with my co-workers.

Mindful Slack status message examples

Emoji Message What it communicates
🧠 Deep work; may be slow to respond I put this message up when I’ve got my head down and doing deep work. I want my co-workers to know that I will get back to them, but just not right away.
💬 BRB I use this when I’m away to grab a snack or taking a quick break.
⌨️ AFK Similar to BRB but could be used more broadly to indicate you’ve stepped away from your computer.
🤒 Sick Whether it’s a headache or illness, I use this to indicate to my teammates that I’m away because I’m not feeling well.
🦞 Lunch I’ll rotate the emoji, just to keep things interesting.
🚶🏻‍♂️ Walking One of the benefits of working at a remote-first company is that I can take walks. This just communicates that I’m currently away from the keyboard. An alternative to this is 💬 AFK
🩺 Dr. appointment Indicates I’m out at the moment due to medical needs.
🚙 Picking up kids I’m a parent and I’m either dropping kids off or picking them up from school. For this reason, it indicates to co-workers that I’m currently away, in the car.
🌴 OOO - Start to End OOO is short for out of office. This indicates when you’re out because of vacation or paid time off. The “Start” and “End” are dates to indicate when co-workers can expect me to be back. I also use this if I’m out partial days too.
🤳/💬 Meeting I’m in various meetings throughout the day. This lets co-workers know that I’m at my desk, but will be slow to respond.
🧍🏻 Standup meeting I’m part of several teams which have quick status meetings called standups. This indicates I’m in one.
🏃‍♂️ Errands I’ve seen my some co-workers to indicate that they are away from the computer because they are running errands. Thought that was a clever use of emoji and status message.

Clear message and pause notifications

When I’m setting up the status message, I will usually set up a time/date for the Slack message to also clear itself.

This is so my messages clear automatically at an anticipated end-time.

Along with the message, I will usually also set Slack to pause notifications. This is so that I’m not distracted depending on what I’m doing and can be fully invested with what is at hand.

Benefits of using away messages

I’ll admit, Slack makes it super easy to “shoulder tap” your co-worker if you need something.

In using away messages, a benefit may be, that when your co-worker sees the message, it’ll make them pause and ask themselves, “Do I need this response from Sarah now?” — replace Sarah with your name.

Hopefully they will re-evaluate and decide an immediate response isn’t needed and thus choose a more asynchronous form of communication such as email or commenting in a task management system such as Jira.

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