R/GA is a global agency headquartered in New York City that works with brands such as Nike, Samsung, Verizon and Google. A company designed “for the connected age”, R/GA lives up to the tagline by connecting their ever-expanding group of 1,700 employees in 15 offices around the world through Slack. For R/GA, Slack has become the central tool for communication across departments, disciplines and offices. R/GA also happens to be the largest advertising agency worldwide using Slack, and they’re using it well.
“We’re working as a team across 4 different locations right now in 3 different time zones. Slack is what has kept everyone up to speed.”
Keeping so many far-flung offices in disparate time zones all in sync isn’t easy, and Slack has become indispensable for teams at R/GA. As R/GA’s Chief Technology Officer Nick Coronges puts it: “People work across multiple time zones and geographies and we depend heavily on real-time communication in Slack to work collaboratively without slowing down the pace of decision-making. On a given project we may have 3–5 offices working together and email doesn’t cut it as a communication medium.”
Slack allows everyone from client services, experience design, production, engineering and PR to join one of dozens of concurrent projects and do work with teams regardless of their role or location, something that wasn’t easy or possible before. R/GA is seeing quicker decision making, they’re holding fewer internal meetings and there’s a great deal more transparency into what everyone is working on, which also means more accountability. Technology Director Katrina Bekessy says, “We’re getting better work out of people.”
“Now our clients see in real time how hard we’re working for them. They can see exactly what every single person on the team is working on without us having to track that manually.”
Most of R/GA’s work is done on behalf of clients, and they’ve seen great gains in productivity and both client trust and appreciation when clients are invited into their Slack teams. R/GA can share mock-ups, report when a task is complete or alert the client that a new version of their app is ready to test the moment it’s available with an automated message. Client managers at R/GA no longer have to write long email summaries or schedule presentation meetings for clients when the work is ready to evaluate – the clients can simply follow the teams inside Slack and provide immediate feedback quickly to R/GA.
Technology Director Katrina Bekessy says it even brings clients closer to the project team: “It makes the process more human and less business-transaction feeling. Even though it’s all asynchronous and very tech-based, it helps facilitate that human connection a lot better than even phone calls can.” Ultimately, Bekessy estimates decision making is 30–40% faster in projects where the clients are members of their Slack team.
Each team bring their own tools into Slack (the design team depend on the Dropbox and Trello integrations, while engineering use Jenkins and JIRA) and R/GA has even built tools for their Slack that help their team do more. The aptly named RGABot can be used to see who’s working on what projects and how people are connected. The chatbot is integrated with R/GA’s internal Skills database system and anyone at R/GA can see who is an expert in say, mobile development, figure out which office they work in, what their past projects included and whether they are free to take on new work.
“Slack is not only great at connecting people, it’s great at connecting the tools and the systems we already have.”
Slack has quickly become the connective tissue that brings people, projects and information together inside R/GA. Thanks to being cloud-based, staff can use the mobile apps on the move, access discussions from home as well as in the office and find anything they need, no matter where they are.