Company Culture

The 6 Best Slack Apps to Build Team Culture in 2021

April 20, 2021

Like any office, Slack traditions help build remote team culture. Supercharge your virtual office with these six Slack apps.

Corine Tan & Annie Yan
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4 min
Like any office, Slack traditions help build remote team culture. Supercharge your virtual office with these six Slack apps.

Get your questions answered.

Building a fantastic company culture without an office isn’t easy. There’s a lack of casual moments at lunch, team celebrations on the floor, and between-meeting conversations. As a result, remote teams have to be more deliberate with how they build trust. The best teams align their company values with all their processes, whether it's a leadership decision for the whole company or a message between teammates over Slack.

With over 8 million daily users, Slack has become the virtual office for remote teams. Like any office, culture-conscious leaders create Slack habits and traditions to build trust and foster open communication. Last week, we shared a few tips to get more work-life balance and bonding out of Slack. This week, we’ll discuss our favorite Slack apps for scaling company culture.

What’s a Slack app?

Slack apps are integrations for your Slack workspace. They slot right into your channels, messages, and DMs to add key features you wouldn't otherwise get. They can do everything from helping you create polls in Slack to notifying you about your deal pipeline. Like the Apple App Store, there’s a variety of free and paid apps.

The best Slack apps for creating culture in 2021

Company culture is as much about the large-scale mission, values, and goals as it is interpersonal relationships, water cooler chats, and funny memes over Slack. Culture leaders have to think about scaling little moments virtually.

Thankfully, our favorite Slack apps make small wins feel like a big deal. Whether it’s a birthday celebration or a GIF of a cat with a piano, these Slack bots help teams do everything for building company culture:

A handy infographic of the best 6 Slack apps for company culture
Created by Annie Yan.

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To say thanks

We’ve talked extensively about the importance of gratitude. Managers that make a habit out of saying thanks benefit team morale, mental health, and trust. Unfortunately, it’s hard to build a gratitude habit while remote. The flurry of meeting links and Slack pings can push kudos to the bottom of the priority list. By the time 1:1s and team huddles roll around, good deeds can be glossed over instead of recognized.

That’s why we recommend HeyTaco!

A screengrab of HeyTaco!

HeyTaco! is a fun and quirky rewards system that helps teammates send taco emojis (equivalent to kudos) over Slack. Teammates are limited to five tacos per day and the person with the most tacos gets placed on a leaderboard. Each taco is intentional and can be tied to company values with tags. With enough tacos, teammates can even cash them in for virtual gifts and prizes.


To spark casual conversations

Among the hundreds of remote managers we interviewed, the majority described a lack of water cooler conversations as the biggest learning curve. These casual interactions create crucial touchpoints for relationship building. Without them, teammates feel siloed and trust decays.

The problem is that casual conversations while remote often feel forced. Coworkers need to plan a Zoom call or DM a teammate on Slack, making it increasingly difficult to meet new faces or socialize with folks at all.

For water cooler conversations, we recommend Donut.

A screengrab of Donut

Donut is a simple Slack app that pairs random teammates for quick coffee chats. Donut creates a group message with participants and coordinates availabilities to make meet-ups painless. Its simplicity adds to its versatility. Some of the best remote teams use Donut to encourage inter-department bonding and CEO meet-ups.


To fight burnout

Understanding how remote teammates are doing goes beyond the simple “How are you?” Struggling coworkers get lost behind a two-inch Zoom screen. Bad days lead to miscommunication. In a global pandemic, companies have experienced record-high levels of burnout and isolation.

Frequent check-ins are an essential part of caring for your team. Visibility on team moods adds crucial context for teammate interactions, reducing miscommunication and making it easier to support teammates through rough times.

Of course, it can feel odd or even overbearing to constantly message folks and check-in. That’s why we built Kona.

Our culture platform, Kona, built for remote team wellness.

Kona sends a daily mood check-in to your team’s Slack channel, creating a shared space to talk about life outside work and factors affecting your mood. With custom emojis and lightweight inputs, Kona makes it easy and fun to get a read on your team. Every input adds to a Slack dashboard, helping managers assess their team’s needs and make data-based culture decisions.

To encourage feedback

The best managers we know create 360-degree habits that ensure they give feedback to direct reports and receive feedback in return. Whether it’s a short check-in after a meeting or a larger conversation for professional growth, feedback helps teams learn and iterate fast.

Regardless of how you get feedback, you’re probably better off getting it more frequently than a once-a-year performance review. That’s why remote teams rely on pulse surveys. We’ve covered how to write these surveys extensively in our last blog post.

For pulse surveys, we recommend TinyPulse.

A screengrab of TINYpulse

TinyPulse is both small and extensive. Its integration makes it easy to survey teammates, submit anonymous suggestions, and send celebratory “Cheers” without leaving Slack. Outside of Slack, TinyPulse has an extensive web platform for customizing survey questions and reading engagement data. This powerful Slack app helps you understand teammates without creating long SurveyMonkey or Typeforms for them to fill out.

To share a laugh

If you’re going to spend hours on Slack, you might as well make it fun and hilarious. GIFs help teams do just that. GIFS encapsulate our reactions and inside jokes, adding a lot of color to otherwise monotone conversations and threads.

For adding GIFs in Slack, we recommend Giphy.

A screengrab of Giphy

Giphy is one of the most popular GIF Slack apps because of its ease of use. Giphy provides an entire library of hilarious GIFs that you can search in seconds. With the slash-command /giphy cats, coworkers can quickly send a cat GIF without breaking the flow of conversation.

To celebrate

We all love it when a coworker remembers our birthday. Without a remote office though, it can be hard to remember a coworker’s birthday and find time to celebrate. Instead of plopping a sheet cake on a coworker’s desk, remote teams rely on personal reminders and personalized gifts to make employees feel cared for on their special day.

That’s why we love BirthdayBot.

A screen grab of Birthday Bot

This little Slack app keeps track of birthdays and work anniversaries so you can clear up your Google Calendar. When a special day is upcoming on your team, the bot DMs teammates a quick reminder and starts an announcement when the day arrives. BirthdayBot also collects personal wishlists and gift cards to make it easy to send gifts that mean something. When it’s time to celebrate (and that’s often), you can rely on this little bot to start the party.


Get your questions answered.

If Slack is your office of choice, be sure to build culture traditions that fit your virtual environment. Check out our other resources for supercharging your Slack:

Meet the Author(s)

Corine Tan

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Corine is Co-Founder of Kona. She writes regularly on emotional intelligence and empathetic remote leadership. Her work has been featured by Yahoo, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business School, Forbes, and more. She’s a speaker at remote work conferences like GitLab Commit 2021 and she’s advised Fortune 10 companies on remote strategy.

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