We started 6Minded in 2015 as a remote company, but always with the view of ultimately launching a physical office where our creatives could come together and work together.
This vision has only partially come true to this day. Our team members are distributed across different geographies and VERY mobile, so bringing them all together is impossible anyway. Besides, pandemic hasn't helped realize this plan either.
Still, we do have an office in Krakow, Poland. And while everyone on the team is welcome to visit whenever they wish, this happens rather rarely. Our clients are also global (London, Zurich, Warsaw, Oslo, New York - you name it), so the way we play is 99% remote.
But while our clients and employees might be based in various places around the world, we keep our data, documentation, and collaboration under one roof.
Here are 14 tools that make it possible.
To collaborate, we need to communicate. And while most of our interactions happen asynchronously, via project management and collaboration platforms, we still believe that nothing compares to a quick video call when we lack clarity or need an issue to be resolved fast.
Interestingly, we have also found that some tools can be highly disruptive when you're trying to get into the zone (see why we don't use Slack).
So, instead of initiating an endless string of back-and-forths or spending hours on email follow-ups, our team hops on a Zoom call when things need to get sorted quickly and efficiently. We also use it to discuss project status with our clients.
When on Zoom, we keep our cameras on;)
Asana is the ultimate teamwork management platform, and we are its hardcore fans. We use it to track and update every single project, internal or external.
The main reason to fall in love with Asana is its clean, crisp user interface, which does all the project management job.
When anything needs to get done, one of our Project Managers creates a quick task in the selected project, provides the brief and the deadline, and adds any additional inputs, such as images, diagrams, or Client specs. Then, he or she assigns the task to the appropriate person in the team.
The assignee can trace all tasks in progress on a simple dashboard. Every time when updates occur (e.g., when a new task is assigned or someone adds a comment or a mention), the person in charge gets an email notification. This way, we can be 100% sure that everyone is in the loop and aware of their workload and deadlines.
On successful completion of over 120 projects, spread over more than 8,000 tasks, we know this process simply works.
While Asana is our go to app for coordinating internal collaboration, when dealing with Clients, we opt for Notion. With this central project management hub, it takes us only a few clicks to organize client-facing work into easily-managable Kanban workspace boards.
Notion allows all processes to be easily mapped out into a board and assigned the appropriate status - one of "To-Do," "In Progress," or "Completed". Having project information presented in a condensed and visual format helps us keep on track and transparent with our Clients, who can immediately display the progress of each task.
Notion enables building Kanban management boards in a flash [Source: Notion]
💡 Confluence by Atlassian is another popular collaboration Wiki tool that uses Kanban boards. However, we find it more appropriate for enterprises, as it's a massive platform that offers a wide array of features (with added complexity).
Our creative team at 6Minded consists of professionals covering a variety of roles, from copywriters, through UX designers, to software developers. Figma brings all of their inputs together in one place.
The platform provides a collaborative interface for comprehensive website design tasks. It allows designers to build their website wireframes and prototypes from the ground up and bring them to life with smart animations and dynamic overlays.
When designs are ready, other team members can provide feedback through comments. This feature is also very useful when it comes to proofreading and verifying the final version of the website copy.
Additionally, Figma makes work much faster for us in pure HubSpot website implementation projects. This is because many of our Clients already use the tool (it's free and runs on Mac and PCs). It only takes them one click to share specs with our developers to be deployed in HubSpot.
We've seen too many examples of done being better than perfect to endlessly chase perfection. To avoid getting stuck in an infinite loop of edits and iterations, we've developed a tried and tested process for website design. It makes life easier for everyone and allows us all to proceed with work smoothly.
First, we collect customer inputs and requirements and pass them on to our experienced team members (using the communication tools already described). Then, our experts get down to work on prototypes. They gather feedback in stages, apply necessary tweaks and updates, and keep on rolling with the next batch of work.
To make all of that happen, we often use InVision.
Even though UXPin is often listed side by side with InVision as a prototyping tool, we take advantage of these platforms in a slightly different way.
InVision is mostly used by our web designers, while UXPin is where our content creators and copywriters organize website copy before designers proceed with their work.
Instead of writing down all copy in a Google or Word document, our content specialists create landing page layouts with the final copy right away in InVision. These drafts are then shared for feedback with the Client who comments on both, the wording and the webpage layout at once. This helps us save precious time and move on with our projects faster.
Checking two tasks off the 'TO=DO' list simultaneously - that's what we call super productivity!
Another app we use to stay on pulse with distributed projects and teams is Miro, an online collaborative whiteboard platform.
As a real-time board for remote teams, Miro does a great job at bringing team ideas together when we work on a website’s architecture or need to map a sales process into HubSpot.
By enabling live comments and editing, the tool gets as close as it gets to a face-to-face brainstorming session. It also offers a visual mapping and diagramming feature to explain complex processes easily, as well as agile workflows that provide immediate project visibility and transparency.
Miro is so efficient in organizing meeting notes and insights, that we even used it as a whiteboard during an on-site meeting with a Client sitting in the same room!
Clear visual graphs help us break down any process into easy-to-follow steps [Source: Miro]
PandaDoc is a versatile document tool that offers various management functions for quotes, proposals, contracts, forms, and other document formats. However, we use it mainly to draw up client and freelancer agreements with templates prepared by our lawyers, and get them signed online securely.
Streamlining document processes through automation, a drag-and-drop editor, and one-click uploads helps us get rid of paperwork and find more time for work (and play).
Our business happens online. So do our payments, enabled by Stripe.
The online payment platform allows us to accept, process, settle, and reconcile payments from all our Clients, regardless of their country of business operations or currency they use.
💡 Stripe is actually a good alternative to PayPal, with more customized options and extra features like extensive API integrations, embeddable checkout, or custom reporting.
PandaDoc is excellent for contract drafting and signing, but when it comes to preparing proposals for our Clients, we prefer Proposify.
As the name suggests, the software simplifies proposal workflows by applying a scalable, traceable process to drafting and managing proposals. Thanks to re-usable templates, workflow automations, and data integration, it makes the deal design process smooth and error-free.
Additionally, Proposify allows our Clients to view and engage with proposals from any device and at any time, as they see fit. As a bonus, on our end, we can see which proposals perform best to identify the approach that brings best results for our team.
11. Google Docs
Blog posts, e-books, website copy, social media copy, ad campaigns... We produce copious amounts of text daily. Most of it in Google Docs.
The tool needs no introduction, as it's used by millions of creatives worldwide to produce, edit, and share documents with their teams, wherever they are.
Cloud-based collaboration is the core benefit of the platform, but there are a few other things we particularly love ❤️ about Google Docs:
- History tracking, which allows us to revert to the previous versions if anything goes wrong.
- Interactive comments, which make asynchronous collaboration possible, which is especially important as we often work in different time zones.
- Offline work mode, allowing our creators to progress with work under any circumstances, while they travel, or when connectivity is down.
12. Google Drive / Dropbox
Remote work could not happen without the cloud.
Using cloud storage services allows our distributed team members to manage files, share data, and work together freely regardless of their whereabouts. Additionally, they get things done faster, as instead of exchanging emails back and forth, they can organize all work in a shared workspace and collaborate synchronously and asynchronously.
13. Password Managers
With so many apps in use, it's our responsibility to ensure all company and client data stays protected.
We implement various security measures to keep logins locked and data safe, which I won't detail in this post. However, what I can disclose is that one of the means to strengthen access security at 6Minded are password managers.
Tools like KeePass, LastPass, and Keeper not only provide trusted means to secure account details for all the different platforms and apps that remote teams use at work, but also save users the hassle of remembering tens of secure login/password combinations.
It might be true that the shoemaker's son always goes barefoot. But not in our case.
As an inbound agency that implements HubSpot for other businesses, we use HubSpot extensively or our own benefit, too.
Our website, blog, landing pages - they all run on the world's favorite CMR platform. We use its modules to reach out to our audience, grow traffic, engage with the Clients, and automate low-value tasks.
From generating leads to sustaining customer interest,
we use HubSpot to deliver exceptional services from top to bottom [Source: HubSpot]
(🤫No, we don’t use Slack)
Or actually sorry. That's a lie.
We occasionally use Slack when our Clients ask us to do so. But we never use it for internal communications or as the preferred method of interaction. And here's why.
Creative work thrives in the zone. And the more interruptions, the more time needed to go back to that focus space. In a physical office, employees get constantly distracted by 'a quick word,' a 'short call,' or innocent chit-chats. A few short interruptions here and there, and suddenly the entire workday is gone.
Of course, remote work has its challenges, too. Yet generally, most our team members find home-based work environment much more conducive to concentration and intense work than traditional workspace, precisely because of the lack of such interruptions. As long as they don't use Slack.
As much as we tried to embrace Slack as a collaboration tool, it just didn't work for us. Even with status updates, paused notifications, and other features aimed to eliminate distractions, we still found it far more disruptive than useful.
So, instead of getting lost in a constant stream of DMs, conversation threads, and mentions on Slack, we communicate asynchronously on Asana via comments that don't get in the way of our work. While on Slack, we had to browse conversation history to find particular information, on Asana, all comments are displayed conveniently in the dashboard in the context of a specific task.
Best remote collaboration tools. What's your pick?
The above list is by no means exhaustive, but it provides a decent overview of how we get things done in our agency.
And how about your experiences? Have you used any of the above tools to coordinate and manage remote work? Would you recommend other solutions?
Share your thoughts! We're always open to experiment and find new, better ways of doing things! Share and comment on LinkedIn or Facebook.