We’ve been working from home for 386 days.

I don’t think many people envisaged that they’d be working from home for over a year back in March of 2020. Temporary workstations set up in bedrooms and kitchens are now permanent fixtures housing iMacs, plants, and about 5,000 cables if you share a desk.

For us, working from home has certainly had its pros (quick access to the fridge, cuddles with the dog) and cons (lack of space, fighting over the broadband). What it has resulted in, is a closer look at how we work as a team. 

Before the pandemic some of us at here at Morton Ward were well used to working from home so we already had a lot of processes in place when Covid hit. Since it seems increasingly likely that the future will be a blend of this “new normal” and old office life, we thought we’d share a couple of tools we’ve used over the past year to keep collaboration well on track. 

  1. Miro – brainstorming made easy 

Arguably, one of the hardest parts about working from home is brainstorming as a team or with a client. A lengthy session on Zoom can be fatiguing and spur of the moment ideas drawn on paper don’t always translate when held up to the camera. 

In lieu of the office table, usually covered in bits of paper and drawings, we have now over 40 boards on Miro filled to the brim. Miro’s interactive zoomable canvas offers a blank slate where anyone granted access can add text, imagery, drawings, videos and more all in real time. Our boards include everything from banks of useful resources to creative campaign concepts. We also use Miro to breakdown complex sitemaps for new websites into simple diagrams covering UX and UI design. 

Having a digital canvas to tackle creative projects on has been invaluable for remote working. We’d argue that being able to bring a high level of interactivity and visual referencing to our meetings has allowed for a much better understanding all round. What’s more, our clients can easily add their own ideas and feedback, so every project really benefits from the combined brainpower of a team.

  1. PageProof – all your edits in one handy place 

Keeping track of edits can be snowball into a mammoth task, especially when you’re waiting on a few people from the same organisation to review a piece of work. 

We started to use PageProof last summer to streamline our editing and approval process. It’s an online proofing tool that can be accessed by anyone on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device. Clients can leave feedback directly onto the latest version of a document, animation or web page by using a simple red pen to denote alts. You can circle errors, attach files to replace imagery or text and even tag other users in a query and reply to comments. Every version is stored in the same location online and proofs can be viewed side by side for an easy comparison when cross-checking your past edits. 

Proofs go through a step-by-step workflow, meaning different people within your organisation have editing powers at the right stage of the process. If you need numerous people to review a piece of work simultaneously, this is easy to set up, with a final ‘approver’ able to sign off at the end. 

We receive the feedback instantly in the form of a ‘to-do’ list and one of the biggest benefits of PageProof is that it integrates seamlessly with Adobe software. To-do lists are checked off one by one as a designer makes their way through the requested alts. PageProof can also be integrated with project management software like Asana, Slack, Basecamp and Trello.

As a tool we’ve found that PageProof makes editing faster, more accurate and ultimately strengthens the final piece of work. It’s been a massive help during remote working, both for us and our clients, making the proofing process transparent and painless, and saving precious time for everyone involved. 

  1. Scoro and Trello – balancing the workload

A number of surveys on the past year have explored changes in the nation’s working habits. Many of these reported that productivity and time spent working has gone up, which might sound astonishing to the millions of us juggling childcare and other responsibilities. 

In fact, findings showed that the line between home life and work has become pretty blurred. With no commute and most dress codes relaxed, it’s come as no surprise that dipping into emails during the evening or wearing loungewear all day has become pretty standard. Whatever way you prefer to work, it feels more important now than ever to strike the right work-life balance.

Like most agencies, we already used project management software before the pandemic to manage workloads. For us, Scoro is the perfect place to combine all of our different tasks in one online platform. It has an array of features to help the entire team plan and prioritise work, keeping track of who’s on what and the resources available. Scoro can also generate nifty reports from key metrics and dashboards and integrates with a ton of other popular tools. 

Trello is another platform we’d recommend in order to avoid lengthy lists from piling up in your head. Simple, concise and agile, it’s ideal for creating to-do lists and categories as you see fit. It’s even useful for keeping on top of tasks in daily life as well.

As we’re an agency on the smaller side, Scoro and similar tools help free up our time to focus on delivering the creative itself. Keeping our processes streamlined gives us a definite advantage over larger, corporate studios.

These are just a few of the top tools we’ve found that work best for us and our clients. 

If you have others, we’d love to hear about them. 

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