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‘We were made for this’: How Slack became king of the remote-work world

The workplace-productivity company became essential amid the coronavirus crisis, and in the process, rediscovered itself.

The Monday after the start of daylight saving time in the United States brings the U.S. and Europe an hour closer together, and the extra hour of workday overlap between the two continents has traditionally resulted in a jump in simultaneous users on the digital messaging platform.

But that Monday, something unexpected happened.

Concerns about the coronavirus had been taking hold the previous week across the United States. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google began to tell employees to work from home. Stanford University canceled in-person classes. South by Southwest called off its Austin festival completely. MGM postponed the launch of the 25th James Bond movie from Easter to Thanksgiving. Its title: No Time to Die.

“We expected to see a spike on that Monday morning,” says Cal Henderson, Slack’s CTO. The company has “an internal channel that automatically posts when we set a new record,” and its automated chime went off more than once that day: Slack’s worldwide connected users hit an all-time high. The number of daily messages sent did, too. “We didn’t build Slack for a global pandemic,” says Henderson, just over a week after hitting this benchmark. “But it is hugely applicable to what’s happening in the world.”

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