Fleep: How to work in a remote team?

How to work in a remote team

Fleep is a distributed team. Our people work remotely from two different cities, and for most of our team members, working at home is common. So, we have our own tips to share when it comes to the oh-so-current question: how to work in a remote team?

Handling the team in itself is not really an issue for Fleep, however… trying to pull all the people together virtually can be a challenge in itself.

How to work in a remote team: Communication

It can’t be emphasized enough how important good daily communication is for remote teams. Especially for the ones that are building a communication tool themselves.

Our day-to-day business, conversations, development, bug chats and discussions all take place in Fleep. We pride ourselves for dogfooding our own product. This helps us understand best if we are building a useful product that would work for start-ups and teams similar to us and helps us pull our remote team together.

Jeff Atwood from Stack Overflow writes: “You need a way to casually ping your fellow remote team members and get a response back quickly. This should be low friction and available to all remote developers at all times. IM, IRC, some web based tool, laser beams, smoke signals, carrier pigeon, two tin cans and a string: whatever. As long as everyone really uses it.”

And that’s the case with us as well. It’s not unusual that conversations in Fleep carry on during non-working hours in the evening or even on weekends. It’s up to the team members to decide whether they’ll respond right away or when the new workday starts, different people have different approaches, but the conversations stay there, always in sight, whenever you sign in.

With Fleep it’s easy to see who has read the messages and who’s currently active in the chat as well (with our Presence features). This adds speed and relevance to the lean development efforts.

Face-to-face conversations for longer topics

Regardless of how great the chat application is, it can never really replace human behaviour and honesty in real eye-to-eye conversations. In our team, whenever we see that a chat conversation is taking a wrong turn or misunderstandings arise, we call each other using Skype. Adding audio to your communication adds a special layer of trust and understanding. From someone’s voice you can easily detect if they’re agreeing with you or are hesitant and confused.

“Regular catch-ups and conference calls should be scheduled so that work can be fairly distributed and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.” states The Guardian in the article How to manage remote working teams

It’s the same for us, we have a regular weekly meeting either in-person or via a Skype call with the team during which we discuss topics that need further discussion or clarifications. We also use these opportunities to share what we did during the previous week and what we will be up to in the upcoming one.

Bringing the team together

Staying in touch with the team using chats and calls is not all it takes for remote teams to feel like they’re connected. Every 2nd week we bring the whole team together to Tartu or Tallinn and make sure that people get enough time for those important one-to-one conversations. Oftentimes that is all that it takes to get on the same page and get some of those invaluable insights shared between team members.

“Developers and designers often need long, uninterrupted periods of time to get meaningful work done,” explains Chad Halvorson, CEO of thisCLICKS in the article Are Remote Teams the Future of Work? written by David Hassell.

Apart from design talks and development discussions (read: heated conversations) it’s also crucial to make sure that the junior engineers working in the team get the chance to learn, progress and tackle the more complicated tasks together with the senior engineers who are not always co-located. This works a lot easier if the person who is helping you is sitting right next to you.

How to work in a remote team

Always in touch, but not stuck together

It’s easy to fall out of touch with remote team members if you’re not sitting across the table with them and it’s vital from the start-up culture point of view to make sure people get the feeling of being united, whenever they come to the office or even when they don’t. That’s why we have a continuous Skype call going on day in and day out between the Tallinn and Tartu office TVs. That way we can see if someone is in the office, if they’re currently busy or simply joke about the fact that they’re playing ping pong on the other end of the line.

Ultimately, the decision about how distributed a team can be comes down to the needs of that team: do you need to talk every day? What type of people are in your team? What are the personal habits of the team members? Once you know all this, you can easily decide which of the solutions works best, or which 2-3 tools you need to make the most out of communication.

We hope you found these tips useful! What kind of tools are you using to make sure the team feels united even when there’s a long distance between them? Feel free to ping us via Twitter or Facebook to share your thoughts!

Fleep User Story: SprayPrinter

Fleep User Stories is a series of blogposts that highlights the cool people, teams and companies that use Fleep in their daily business.

This time, we are putting the spotlight on the SprayPrinter team. This is a team that believes there’s nothing more uninspiring than a boring blank wall. It’s also a team that uses Fleep as their main team communication tool.

Sprayprinter team

The SprayPrinter team, from left to right: Mihkel, Sirje, Alo, Richard, Henry

We spoke with Richard from SprayPrinter about what they do and how Fleep helps them in that. Read on if you’d like…

What is SprayPrinter?

SprayPrinter is a smart and exciting device that delivers photos, designs and artwork of the user’s choice to any wall. No more uninspiring boring blank walls.

how sprayprinter worksWith SprayPrinter, anyone can be an artist. You choose the image you want to print on your wall from our app, activate the printer and enjoy the process – pixel by pixel, color by color – it’s as simple as that!

sprayprinter fleep

We have already gathered a strong community of artists and designers behind SprayPrinter, creating real value to the users of the device. It might be fun to print a selfie to your wall once or twice, but for professional designs, we are creating a marketplace where designers, artists and photographers can upload their creation and set their own prices. We take 10% in between and everyone is happy.

We are on Indiegogo for crowdfunding – find out more and support SprayPrinter now!

How did you find out about Fleep?

In the Summer of 2015, I helped my friend out in organizing a sailing trip for the Fleep Team. While sailing, I learned a lot about Fleep directly from the CEO, and when I returned to the office the next day, I became a user immediately.

How do you use Fleep?

At first we used Fleep for all of our internal communication and task management, and by now we also use Fleep to communicate with colleagues and partners who are on Fleep. It’s a really convenient tool for discussing tasks and managing all of our online communication.

fleep user story

We have a dedicated conversation for every major topic – finance management, marketing, production etc – and the whole team is included in these to make sure everyone knows what’s going on. Within the team, we also have 1:1 chats to discuss more detailed stuff.

What do you like about Fleep?

I like the fast customer support. But also the fact that the founders of Fleep develop it for themselves – it makes Fleep a really fast-developing and comfortable tool.

What are your Fleep tips?

Watch the tutorials and use all of the capabilities of Fleep.

Fleep usersWho would you recommend Fleep to?

I would recommend Fleep to every organization that wants to make sure everyone on their team knows at all times where is their contribution point.

Thank you for sharing your Fleep story, team SprayPrinter! You can find all featured user stories under the Fleep User Stories category. Make sure you also follow Fleep on Twitter (and #fleepstories) and Facebook to keep an eye on our news and updates!

Chat for teams

Conversations bulk actions in Fleep

bulk actionsMany of you asked and we listened: bulk actions for conversations are here!

What this means in practice is that you can now select multiple conversations and apply one of the following conversation actions to all the conversations you selected: mark read, archive, delete, add members and remove members.

How do bulk actions work? There are three ways in which you can select conversations to apply bulk actions.

You can select multiple conversations one by one, select a range of conversations, or select all conversations under a label.

Option 1: Select multiple conversations

bulk delete

In the simplest version, all you need to do is right-click on a conversation on the left pane, and choose “Select multiple” from the conversation actions. Checkboxes will appear that allow you to select multiple conversations.

Then, all you need to do is to click on the action you wish to apply from the top header - mark read, archive, delete, add or remove members.

Option 2: Select a range of conversations

bulk select

You can also select a range of conversations to apply bulk actions to. First, choose a conversation with the “Select multiple” action, then press down your Shift key and click on another conversation – all of the conversations in between the two will be selected, too!

And then just click on the action you wish to apply from the top header - mark read, archive, delete, add or remove members.

Option 3: Select all conversations under a specific label

bulk selection

Now, if you click on a label, you can “Select all”. This will select all conversations under that label that are visible. It will not select the conversations that are at that point hidden under “Show more” (if there are any).

Again, choose the action you wish to apply - mark read, archive or delete – and it’s done.

Why bulk actions?

The conversations bulk actions are especially handy for those of you who have connected your email with Fleep or just have a lot of traffic in Fleep. We hope the bulk actions make it easier for you to manage your conversations.

Nice! What’s next?

Conversations bulk actions are the most recent update to the left pane – following the improved sorting logic and more elaborate label management functionality. We hope you’ve enjoyed these updates!

We will keep learning from your feedback, though! Currently, we’re developing some new functionality that helps teams use Fleep more easily. More on that in our quarterly review blog post.

Do you have feedback or questions for us? Contact us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch through our social media channels - TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, Instagram.

Fleep User Story: DreamApply

Fleep User Stories is a series of blogposts that highlights the cool people, teams and companies that use Fleep in their daily business.

If you’ve ever attended university, you’ve probably filled in an application and been through the steps of an admission system. DreamApply specializes in exactly that – it is the leading student admission platform. More than 90 university admission systems across Europe run on the DreamApply platform.

DreamApply Fleep user story

The DreamApply team (from left to right, starting from the front): Ahti, Kert, Sten, Safak, Rene, Ieva, Triin and Lauri

And guess what? They use Fleep as their team communication tool!

We sat down with Safak, Kert and Triin from the DreamApply team for a little chat… here’s their Fleep User Story:

How did you find out about Fleep?

Kert Kivaste DreamApply

Kert from DreamApply

Kert: I was the one to introduce Fleep to the DreamApply team. As I joined the team I felt that we need something better than endless Skype chats and conversations. I had used HipChat previously when I was working on my startup but I wanted to try something different and remembered that I had once heard Henn (CEO of Fleep) speaking at some event so I decided to give it a try – now, one year later we’re still using it actively :)

The benefits of Fleep are becoming especially clear as the team grows (we are now 11 people strong, a Latvian-Turkish-Estonian team!). We did take a look at a few different options for a chat for teams, but decided to go with Fleep as it covered all of our requirements perfectly – and Fleep being a fellow Estonian company to support was like a cherry on the top.

How do you use Fleep?

Kert: First and foremost, we use Fleep as a chat application for the team. Several members of our team work remotely or travel a lot, and Fleep works really well with remote work. In short, Fleep helps us to stay in touch and to collaborate at a distance.

We have both one-on-one and group conversations – some conversations are also project-based or around a specific topic. And, of course, there is a separate Watercooler conversation.

What do you like about Fleep?

Safak Samiloglu DreamApply

Safak from DreamApply

Safak: I like that Fleep is web browser based. I just have it open in one tab, and switch to it when necessary. Also, I use the Android application a lot – it’s very handy to have it when I’m on the go. Additionally, I like how it’s really easy to create group conversations and share files!

Kert: I like how the search works really well across conversations – and how the attachments are all in one place in the conversation. Personally, I have also forwarded all of my GitHub notifications to a specific conversation (with the conversation email address). In this way, I get a feed of updates, all conveniently in one place.

Triin Tartes DreamApply

Triin from DreamApply

Triin: Fleep is more customizable than other team communication tools – so you can really make it your own.

Who would you recommend Fleep to?

Triin: I would recommend Fleep to anyone who has project-based communication, for example I think it would work well as a chat for university students. During my graduate studies, we’ve used Fleep as the team communication tool, too.

DreamApply

A snippet of the DreamApply platform – see more on their website.

Thank you for sharing your Fleep story, team DreamApply! You can find all featured user stories under the Fleep User Stories category. Make sure you also follow Fleep on Twitter (and #fleepstories) and Facebook to keep an eye on our news and updates!

Chat for teams

Fleep: a look back at Q1 and plans for Q2

The first quarter of the year is over, which means it’s time for our quarterly review! Let’s take a look at what Fleep delivered in Q1 of 2016 – and what we will be working on in Q2.

fleep

A picture from our quarterly readouts & Spring offsite. We’re not really that aimless, honestly.

First, a review of the biggest improvements and launches in Q1:

  • Fleep emailEmail linking - the feature that enables you to connect your email account with Fleep. This means you can send and receive emails in Fleep with your existing email address!
  • ­Labels 2.0 – this update to Fleep conversations labels lets you manage the labels in an improved way. You can customize what conversations will be shown in the conversation list and which conversations will appear under the Recent and Muted labels.
  • Forward message action – this feature means you can now forward messages with just a few clicks. Simple as that!
  • New integrations – we added outgoing webhooks, IFTTT integration, Slack integration and the Giphy integration.
  • Some UI redesigns – in case you haven’t noticed, the Taskboard, All Conversations view, and Create new conversation flow got a new, fresh look!
  • API v3 – this means a new syncing logic that significantly improves speed upon sign in across platforms.

So, what do we have planned for Q2? We’ll start with finishing unfinished business and then move on to new things. Here’s an overview of what we will be focusing on in Q2:

  • Conversations bulk actions – this is something the Fleep users who have gradually replaced their email clients with Fleep have fleeprequested, but all users will appreciate. A quick, handy way to organize your conversations: delete, archive or mark several conversations read with one action.
  • Teams - We are closer than ever to this long-awaited functionality. The teams feature will enable you to create teams – and then add or remove the whole team from conversations with a one click action. Perhaps even more importantly, if someone is added to an existing team, they will also be added to all team conversations. And vice versa – if someone is removed from the team, they will also be removed from all of those team conversations!
  • Email list behavior – we are working on the option to have Fleep conversations act as email lists, using the conversaiton email address as the sender. This will significantly improve the experience of big group conversations that include email participants.
  • Server infrastructure reorg - Behind the scenes, we’re also working on scaling our server infrastructure to better serve increasing server load.

We hope you like the direction we’re going in! If you have any questions or feedback for us – do not hesitate to reach out to us at support@fleep.io.