Developing a Learning Culture

Slack Vs. Hipchat: Which Works Best for Informal Learning?

Full disclosure: At eLearning Mind, we love Slack. The platform allows us to easily talk between departments and helps to close the gap caused by having offices on opposite sides of the country. But we were also curious about Slack’s biggest competitor, Hipchat. When compared side-by-side, both have their pros and cons.

Both are methods for informal communication. Both make learning from colleagues easier than ever. But they might not be right for every business. Find out why informal learning and person-to-person communication is such a vital part of ELM culture.

Straight to the Source

One of the benefits both Slack and HipChat have going for them is the sheer efficiency factor involved. In more formal methods of training, learners have to hold onto their questions until the appointed time. With informal methods, learners can ask the right question at the right time–no waiting.

Consider how effective this strategy is when working between two departments. Sales has a question for the design department, and can ask a colleague directly within the Slack or Hipchat platform. Seamlessly organized by channel, Slack is a clear win for ELM, since the nature of our work requires collaboration between all departments. It’s no big deal to shoot a question over to one department, and have someone upload a document in response. Those questions and docs then become searchable for later recall, which cuts down on the time and frustration often associated with formal learning methods.

User Experience

We’ve heard the difference between Hipchat and Slack as the difference between a PC and a Mac: Most feel that Slack is much more user-friendly and offers a more intuitive experience overall. And, when adopting new technology in the workplace, user experience is among some of the most important factors to consider. You’ll have a hard time getting everyone on board if the service is confusing.

At ELM, we value transparency as one of the factors to our success, and with Slack, that transparency is built into the user experience. Everyone can see the questions and comments posted in any channel they follow, so everyone stays in the loop and feels equally connected. It helps break down some of the walls that can inhibit creative collaboration in typical formal meeting settings.

Cultural Caveat

We consider Slack a total win for ELM, and perhaps we are biased because we are an eLearning company, and that Slack is not necessarily right for every industry. When working in an industry with strict privacy standards (think medical or financial) it’s not appropriate to share via an open communication tool. Still, corporate social media networks on secure servers are a possibility–with the proper privacy considerations, of course.

In the end, it might not be about the platform, but the way in which they’re used. Both Slack and Hipchat allow users an informal way to communicate with colleagues, making learning an evergreen, ever-relevant, and everlasting process. After all, why call a long training meeting when a few sentences and a well-placed emoji will do?


Wesley Faulkner says:
September 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm
From what you said above: “We’ve heard the difference between Hipchat and Slack…”

It is hard to tell if you have even used HipChat. Is it possible for you to use it, then compare the two?

Amy Masters says:

Hi Wesley – thank you for your note. Some of us have used Hipchat. As a company, we use Slack. Would love to dig deeper into Hipchat.

Tweet us and we will walk you through everything you need to know. @HipChat