Team collaboration app Slack is adding a subtle but important feature to its service today that borrows from age-old chat traditions: the status message. Once a staple of AOL Instant Messenger (RIP), to let your friends know what you were up to or to share very tacky late-‘90s emo lyrics, this feature should be pretty useful for organizations of diehard Slack users. Now you can let your co-workers now when you’ve gone to lunch or are out for the day or, most importantly, when you’re on vacation and would much rather not be bothered.
If it sounds somewhat trivial, it’s worth remembering how Slack users have handled this in the past. Right now, you can only denote yourself as online (green dot) or away (no dot). So if you needed to broadcast your status for any reason — say, being out of the office from date X to date Y — you needed to actually edit your username to tack those details onto the end so others would see it when they searched for you. For less extended departures, there isn’t really a good way to send this info out to everyone, except maybe with a dreaded automated email reply. Here at The Verge, we have an entire Slack channel dedicated to telling co-workers our whereabouts in the event we need to be reached.
Slack is adding some nuance here to bring the status message into 2017. For instance, you’ll be able to say whether you’re on a flight, out sick, working remotely, or commuting to the office by way of emoji icons that attach to your username. The whole package, which Slack is calling custom status, should be rolling out over the next few days for its desktop and mobile apps.