Anyone who is obsessed with Queer Eye as much as I am knows that all Fab Five members play a key role in the success of each lifestyle makeover.

For those of you who have no idea what Queer Eye is, I like to refer to it as “healthy” junk food for my brain (i.e. a chocolate chip cookie made with oats and honey.) The five experts on this Nextflix TV series form relationships with men and women who usually have different beliefs from them, causing them to confront major societal issues while providing fabulous style advice. They change at least one life per episode.

Each person chosen has obvious outward appearance challenges that the team tackles with fashion and grooming advice. But behind their look and style (or lack thereof), there is always deep-rooted communication, culture, and organization barriers that are preventing them from being their best.

In a digital agency, besides having top-notch design and creative talent, those are also the three main factors that can make or break any team or initiative: communication, culture, and organization. When operating fully remote like Gallardo Labs with the team spanning multiple time zones and languages, the importance of these factors running smoothly is even more critical.

In honor of Queer Eye’s Fab Five, we wanted to let you peek inside our team to see which five fabulous tools are working behind the scenes allowing us to do our best work.

1. Zoom

I can’t remember the last day I had that didn’t involve a Zoom conference. When we are not client-side meeting in person, we are using Zoom to conduct video conferences, work reviews, team brainstorms, quick internal chats, 3rd party introductions, weekly check-ins, you name it…

Video meetings have allowed us to get to know our clients and each other better by being virtually face-to-face. The number of decisions made, ideas created, and solutions hashed out is immeasurable. They have a “record” feature that we like to use to make sure we don’t miss any action items or important feedback.

One of the best things about Zoom is that I can send a link to a client for the first time and never even have to explain how to use it. I have yet to get a question on how to set it up. That just shows you how quick and intuitive it is.

Whether you choose to use Zoom or another conferencing tool, video is a must for remote teams. Without it, you’ll never have the human connection needed to build solid long-lasting relationships.

Slack is one of our Fab Five tools for working remotely.

2. Slack

Slack is what we use for ongoing conversations, quick questions, and general team topics like inspiration or project-specific threads. It’s our day-to-day talk space.

Asking someone a question on Slack is much quicker and organized then sending it to them via email. Each conversation is kept in an ongoing thread so you can always reference something from your history, in one place.

Slacking someone is also actually quicker than getting up and going over to their desk in a typical office to ask them in person. And it doesn’t interrupt anyone from what they’re working on because each user chooses how to set their notifications, leading to tons of time gained in efficiency. When you’re “in the zone”, there’s nothing worse than getting constantly interrupted with non-urgent questions. Slack is the solution for that.

In addition to one-on-one chats or small group conversations, we also create team threads per topic and project. This is super helpful for large initiatives with ongoing work, feedback, and ideas being passed back and forth. We have a #shareworthy thread to keep us inspired with the latest and greatest things we find in the design and tech space.

One other reason we love Slack is that, since we are all remote workers, we technically never “leave work at the office”. It is always with us and it’s harder to define boundaries between work and life. Slack has helped us by not allowing work conversations to get mixed in with personal text messages, vacation time, or most importantly, our beauty sleep.

Airtable is one of our Fab Five tools for remote project management

3. Airtable

I think of Airtable like Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye, our Grooming Consultant. It is where we keep our projects, clients, hours, and deliverables organized. At any time, a team member can log in and be groomed on everything they need to know about what they should be working on.

Airtable looks like a well-styled spreadsheet at a glance, but don’t let the grids fool you. The tool is powerful. The organizational capabilities are endless and it can be fully customized based on how your team is structured. We use Airtable to keep track of everything that is moving. It has a very helpful tagging system that notifies team members when they’ve been allocated to a project or mentioned in a comment. The team can see project details, dates, estimated hours, conversation threads, and client info. I also like it because it’s a very transparent system. Our entire team knows what projects we have going on and who is working on what. It doesn’t have to be this way but it is definitely aligned with how we work.

Airtable consists of “Bases”. Each base is fully customizable and can be shared. I would recommend having your most experienced Project Manager work with an Engineer to build your Airtable Bases exactly how you need them. So far, we have yet to come up with a need it hasn’t been able to address.

Our team shares files on Dropbox

4. Dropbox

Dropbox is the house for all projects on which we work live. It is basically a file system that can be synced across devices and shared easily. Access can be granted to anyone who is working on a project, and files can be shared externally in a secure manner. With Dropbox, we don’t have to waste time hunting down where the team put their latest files because we all use the same folder.

There is nothing too fancy about the concept, but it is the most essential tool of all our tools. It was the first thing we started using as a team and we are still evolving the way things are organized inside. Organization, file naming, and proper access rights are key. We structured our Dropbox by Client Name folders that contain subfolders for each project inside. Per project, we also always have an “Archive” folder and a “FNL Files” folder to make sure nothing is thrown away and no final deliverables get mixed in with work-in-progress explorations.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not this is the right file organization platform to use, check out their Help Center to ask questions, discover features, and see how supportive their community is.

Google Drive is one of our Fab Five Tools

5. Google Drive

While Dropbox holds the guts of our larger project work and design files, Google Drive has been essential for us to keep living, breathing, shareable collections of notes, ideas, articles, cadences, videos, and photos. With Google Drive, we have been able to collaborate real-time with each other and with our clients. Since internally we operate off of the Google platform for calendars and email, Drive was a no-brainer when it came to this type of organizational need.

Some of the most important uses for Google Drive have been around project planning and gathering business requirements. We can work together on defining sprints, delivery dates, and dependencies, then easily share with the client and open it up to them for comments and feedback. We also use it to manage and share every piece of copy that we work on. This includes not only client deliverables but also the very articles that are on our blog. The possibilities are probably underutilized by our team, but that’s okay because it is serving its purpose in the way we collaborate so effortlessly.

We hope you’ve learned a little something from our Fab Five list and are inspired to find your own. Any favorites tools or tips you want to share? How does your team run behind the scenes? And lastly, are you going to watch the Fab Five on Queer Eye tonight?

Photo credit: Header image via the Fab Five’s Instagram. Go ahead and follow them for a little sunshine in your day!

Posted by:Nicole Gallardo

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