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Seven Tools We Use Everyday As A Remote Design Thinking Consultancy

| Sam Hutchings

Sixty Second Summary

Earlier this month, after a couple of years of planning, The Familiar transitioned to a fully-remote company. Instead of an office, our team members now work from where they feel most comfortable and productive.

Here are seven tools we use every single day to help us keep in touch, work effectively together, and deliver outstanding value to our clients.

Full Article - 3 Minute Read

Our Favourite Tools for Remote Working

A key part of our preparation for fully remote working was the testing and selection of tools that would allow us to embrace this new way of working with minimal interruptions. Here are seven of the apps and tools we use everyday at The Familiar.


We’ve all heard of it now–having used it for work meetings, social gatherings, and even wedding and funerals– but Zoom still plays a vital role in the core communication at The Familiar. It’s how we conduct our morning standups and evening catchups. It’s the main tool we use for internal and external meetings. And we now use it for the delivery of Remote Design Sprints, Workshops and eLearning, for which the Pro plan is vital.

We’ve found Zoom’s Virtual Backgrounds to be an incredibly useful tool for branding and promotion, especially when talking at an event, as you can use them to display relevant messages in your view.

Alternatives include: Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Meet.

Zoom being used to show a presentation to multiple people
Zoom being used to show a presentation to multiple people


KanbanFlow has been a great addition to our toolset, replacing the physical Kanban board we used to have in our office. At the board level, it offers a level of customisation we didn’t have in our previosu tool, Trello, that allows us to have both columns and rows (known as swimlanes), making the board adaptable to our workflow. At the card level, each card can contain all the information that’s needed for a task and you can even import files from Google Drive or other sources as an attachment.

KanbanFlow’s automation is great for recurring tasks, where you can trigger the creation of a new card based on certain parameters and then have that card have its own due date, etc.

Alternatives include: Trello and Jira.

An example KanbanFlow Board showing multiple columns and cards
An example KanbanFlow Board showing multiple columns and cards

Google G Suite

Our core co-working tool is Google’s G Suite, which allows us to keep all our documents and files in sync across everyone’s devices. Google Docs and Sheets help us work together on documents and spreadsheets on the internet, whilst Google File Stream makes sure everyone has accessed to shared drives and resources. Gmail is included in Google Suite, giving us a powerful email solution that we can brand with our own domain.

Google Drive’s permissions are great for choosing who can see and edit specific folders and files. For example, we have permissions set up so that only certain people can access our Human Resources folders, keeping them safe from prying eyes.

Alternatives include: Office 365.

Google G Suite in use on a variety of devices
Google G Suite in use on a variety of devices


For when we need to run a creative session or workshop, nothing comes close to Mural. It’s near-infinite canvas provides plenty of space to explore and iterate on ideas, whilst its built-in templates provide a great starting point for productive workshops.

Our favourite feature of Mural has to be voting, where everyone in the board can secretly vote on their preferred idea or solution without anyone else seeing. It’s a great way to get a decision or feedback that isn’t driven by team dynamics or herd behaviour.

Alternatives include: Miro.

A Mural board provides an infinite digital whiteboard for a meeting conducted over Zoom
A Mural board provides an infinite digital whiteboard for a meeting conducted over Zoom


Slack is the main written communication tool for The Familiar. During the typical work day, 90% of communication within the company and with our partners will happen through written text, and most of that will happen through Slack.

Threads and reactions in Slack make it easy to keep conversation neat and to the point, but we also have a couple of breakout rooms for when we want to talk about something “off-topic” - such as what’s happening in the greater Design world.

Alternatives include: Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams.

A Slack conversation on macOS and an iPhone
A Slack conversation on macOS and an iPhone


Work isn’t always about being productive. Sometimes you need to take some leisure and social time with the team, too. So, how do you reproduce the social interactions and evenings that often happen in a colocated office?

At The Familiar, we love board games, but they’re not the easiest thing to play remotely. That was the case until we found Tabletopia, which makes it incredibly easy and fun to play board games over the internet.

Some of our favourites include: Spyfall, Scythe, and Santorini.

A game in progress on Tabletopia
Tabletopia makes it easy soo play board games with friends, wherever you are.

And many more...

There are many apps and tools we use everyday at The Familiar to allow us to work effectively and collectively as a remote team, these are just a few of our favourites.

But tools aren’t the only thing that allow us to work well remotely, there are also processes that we’ve put in place – such as hiring people who are well suited for remote workign – that allow us to continue to deliver Design Sprints and Workshops to our clients in an effective manner. But that’s a story for another time.

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