Staying productive from a distance.

27 April 2020
Read time: 5 mins

Written by:
Graeme Leighfield.

Whilst working remotely - remaining productive is a vital part of striving to operate "business as usual".

In this blog post, I've hand picked a few of the most important things that I've felt have kept us at GEL Studios operating as effectively as possible in these uncertain times, in a hope that this may help others.

A lot of these amazing tools are available for free, or offer free trials so be sure to try them out in your teams.

G Suite.

Essential day to day business tools.

Cost: FREE! (Paid plans available).

We use all aspects of G Suite (Formally known as Google Apps for Business/Work), email, calendar, cloud storage, however in these recent weeks, Google hangouts has been the most important.

The ability for us to be able to quickly and easily setup a video conference, with no software installed, and to send to team members/clients a link to join in has been invaluable. Sure, there are many other alternatives out there such as Zoom, Webex, Skype, teams e.t.c but none of these can get you into a meeting this quick. Speed, is of the upmost importance. It's been super reliable, and the ability to customise your video/audio settings to suit your internet connection is pretty handy too.

Google has also given everyone the ability to have access to its premium features during the COVID-19 lockdown, which includes recording your sessions. Super handy when you need to look back on things.


Constant lines of clear communication.

Cost: FREE! (Paid plans available).

Sometimes, a brief message is enough - and this is where Slack fits in. We've been using slack at GEL Studios for years now, and are fully using its features. We have channels for general communication, projects, and also use channels to display our production deployment progress, support requests and product build updates.

Automation is why I love Slack. Through its web hooks and various integrations, It allows all members of the team to know whats going on with their peers, and gives management an instant update as to when invoices are received, or goals linked to projects are met.

We've always used the free version, and thats been fine for us as a team of 7 (mainly because we've had G Suite so don't use any of its calling features).

Active Collab.

A working overview that provides transparency and clarity.

Cost: Free 30 day trial, then 7 USD per user per month.

At any one time in GEL Studios, we have between 10 - 20 active pieces of work. Ensuring that management know whats going on, when, and by whom is of the upmost importance. Active Collab has become an integral tool for us, as we all use it, all day - every day.

Depending on your role, the use of the system changes - however a brief description is:


Watch those pennies, and keep your finger on the pulse.

Cost: Free 30 day trial then from 10 GBP per month.

Ensuring you keep tight control of monies in and out have never been more important. Xero does just that. We've been using Xero for almost a year now - and its integrations with our CRM, and our own in house set of tools means we know at any time in the day, whats paid, whats owed, and whats due! Perfect when you need to keep a watchful eye on the purse strings...


Not all CRMs are created equal.

Cost: FREE! (Paid plans available).

At the heart of our operations, is our CRM - Bitrix24. We searched high and low, and have invested heavily in our CRM, to build it into a system that is integral to all that we do.

in someway shape or form, everyone of the systems above communicates with our CRM, and ensures that everyone is up to date, about all aspects of work, for all of our clients, all the time. No mean feat!

It's safe to say that it has been an uphill battle over the past 12 months in terms of setup, however now we're seeing some real benefits in our day to day operations and more importantly - beyond.

In these uncertain times, the ability to accurately project work load and opportunities has provided us as a business with a great deal of comfort.


These are only tools that you and your teams can use, what will truly matter and ensure adoption of them is how you manage your team, and how you lead them.

Below are a few points, from my experience of leading my amazing team:

Above all else keep morale high. In these uncertain times, it's your job to lead by example. No matter what's going on in the bigger picture, it's your responsibility to keep moral in your team high. Display your energy in your meetings, and have an unwavering attitude of optimism. It will inspire others to have the same outlook - and let's be honest, we can all do with some optimism right now.

If you're reading this, I hope you found it useful. If my team of I can be of any help to you or our business, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us using the form below.

Stay optimistic, stay positive, and most importantly - stay safe.


Written by:
Graeme Leighfield.

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