11 Tools to Manage Distributed Teams

Managing a business these days is a lot different than in the past. It is no longer necessary to have an actual physical location for a business. Many businesses now operate remotely, and have distributed teams. There is no office or headquarters, and there are no set working schedules. Instead, there is a virtual office that is used as a business address, but no one actually works there. Employees can be anywhere in the world, and working at any time of the day or night.

Running distributed teams is a lot different from work in person with a team. There are a lot of challenges, and business owners need to use all of the tools at their disposal in order to succeed and be productive.

Luckily, there are loads of tools available to use that are reasonably priced, and some are even free to use. No matter what type of business you are operating, you need to be taking advantage of all of the tools you can get your hands on, both paid and free. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of the top 11 tools we have found for managing distributed teams.

toggl1. Toggl – This tool is designed to be a simple time tracker for both individuals and teams. It allows you to track time right from your browser, computer or smartphone. Its interface and reports are neat and it also integrates with other tools that are valuable for business.

The way Toggl works is that you enter your activity, select a project and client and then start timing. You can then easily edit the start and end time of any activity and you can use the reports for billing clients.

2. Flock by Teleport.org – There comes a time where your remote team might need to meet in person. Either for a retreat to instill culture, or simply to finalize a project, working online may not be possible.

Flock, a feature by Teleport is a service that will help you find a destination for your team to meet based on location, budget, and number of members in your team. All you have to do is enter the location of the team members, and you will be presented a list of possible locations to get the team together:

11 Tools to Manage Distributed Teams

time doctor3. Time Doctor – You need to use tools that are going to help improve productivity, and Time Doctor is one of those tools. This is for your own personal productivity, and you will learn just how much time you actually spend on little things like team chat.

Features include time tracking with screenshot monitoring, see how much time you spend working / breaks / meetings, track time for projects and clients, allow clients to log in and view the work that has been done for them, etc. You can even use it to pay contractors through integrations, and as a payroll module. This is the tool you need to really know how much time you are spending on everything.

google hangouts4. Google Hangouts – Team meetings have never been easier since this tool came along. You can use Google Hangouts to enjoy easy voice and video calling so you can always make sure everyone is in the loop about what is going on. Even if you just want to hang out and chat with your team, you can use Google Hangouts to do it.

Google Hangouts is the easiest way to be able to communicate with your  team. It is also a great way for you and your team members to get to know each other on a more personal level, because you can use it to simply chat and have fun hanging out. Of course, make sure that you limit the hanging out time and make sure that work is getting done first.

11 Tools to Manage Distributed Teams5. GitHub – Here is a development collaboration tool that is used for code collaboration. Many companies build all of their code through Github, so they always know what is going on with all of the projects, issues, etc. All work on development and discussion goes on here before projects are complete, and code is always reviewed by two people before it is sent into master.

GitHub makes development collaboration a whole lot easier for your distributed teams, and leave you with more time for other important things, like getting more work done on important projects. Your team will always know what is going on at any given time, and be able to discuss project changes, new ideas, and a whole lot more.

hackpad6. Hackpad – When you need real time collaboration, this is the tool you should be using. Hackpad allows you to collaborate when you have new ideas that you want to try out on your team members. Each team member will have access to all of the pads, and everything is easy to use.

In Hackpad, you can jot down comments and thoughts, and easily collaborate on projects from anywhere in the world. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways for teams to be able to communicate when each member is in a different location. You can have meetings that are just like in-person meetings, with everyone being able to add their own input to the conversations for project collaboration.

I done this7. I done this – This work log is a companion to Trello. It is great for handling all of your short term plans. You can make lists at the beginning of each week of the things that you need to do, and log progress of the things that do get done. This is a really easy way for everyone on your team to be able to collaborate and share the things they are working on.

With I done this, there will never be a moment again when someone is wondering what other team members are doing and how far along they are with projects. You will always know what is being done, and what is left to be done.

gotomeeting8. GoToMeeting – This tool is ideal for all of your remote meeting needs. No matter where you and your team members are, you can easily communicate and collaborate. This truly is an advanced video conferencing tool. It lets you integrate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology and phone calls.

Use GoToMeeting for advanced video conferencing. Support is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you can even enjoy live training sessions (these are for you, team members, and even clients). With great support and training, what is stopping you from using this tool today? Try it now and see how it can improve your company meetings.

mindmeister9. MindMeister – This is what is known as mind mapping software. When you want to do some brainstorming with your team in real time, this is the tool to use. It is perfect for the development of new ideas, because it allows everyone to be able to visualize thoughts easily. When you come up with an idea, it begins to look kind of like a bubble graphic organizer.

You can grow the MindMeister organizer as you expand on the ideas. This tool is going to make creating solutions a lot simpler, and it makes it easier to share the solutions with the rest of your team. Big businesses like Mashable and The Boston Globe use this tool, and it is ideal for businesses of all sizes, including small startups.

trello10. Trello – A web-based tool that allows you to organize your projects using cards that are organized on a board. Imagine writing tasks on Post It Notes (called cards in Trello) and sticking them in columns on a wall. You can write on them, take them off of the wall, and move them around.

Trello is organized by columns. Each column represents a different part of the project. As you and your team make progress on a card, you move it across the board. This lets you see the status of everything you’re working on with just a quick glimpse at the board. Trello offers nearly unlimited flexibility for your business because you have the ability to create as many boards, columns, and cards that you want.

fleep11. Fleep – This blog post wouldn’t be complete without Fleep, a messenger app that allows you to communicate with your remote team through team chat, project communication, and one on one conversations.

Fleep is built on three core principles. First, it is an open platform. That means you can communicate with any other Fleep user, whether or not they belong to your organization. Second, Fleep is built around the premise that communication is key to successfully complete projects. And finally, Fleep is email compatible. This means that if you message someone who isn’t a Fleep user, that person will receive your message via normal email.

John Larase


This is a guest blog post written by John Larase, who is a content specialist and marketer at Time Doctor.


Fleep is a messenger for your teams and projects.

Boost Your Business Writing Skills With These 8 Tools

Business writing skills are something no one really thinks about, but everybody needs. Whether it’s writing into your Fleep team chat or a more official message to your investors, communication is the key to success. So your business writing skills need to be strong if you really want to get ahead in your job.

business writing skills
If you’re unsure about your own business writing skills, there are plenty of tools out there that can help. Here are eight of the best tools to get you started.

business writing skills

1. Mail Mentor: While most of your communication is probably through team chat, sometimes you need to write longer messages to people via email. In those cases, good writing is essential. Just paste your draft into this tool. It will give you instant feedback, such as asking your shorten your paragraphs or simplify your language. It’ll even tell you how long it takes to read your email.

2. Boom Essays: Sometimes you just don’t have the time to proofread your own work. However, that doesn’t mean it has to go unchecked. Send it to this writing service, and they can proofread and edit it for you. They can even do so in tight time frames, so no matter how soon you need it back, they can do it.

3. White Smoke: This tool is one of the most advanced writing tools on the market. You can download it onto your PC or phone, or even into your browser of choice. It will go in depth proofreading your text, suggesting spelling, grammar, and even style changes to make your writing perfect.

business writing skills

4. Vocabulary: Need to improve your vocabulary? This is the tool for you. By playing word games, this intelligent system will learn what you know and what you need help with. By systematically exposing you to these words, it helps you learn them in a natural way. Plus, if you’re competitive, there’s leader boards too!

5. The Plagiarism Checker: Your ideas are your own, but you need to make sure that your writing reflects that. Protect yourself from accusations of plagiarism with this tool. Just paste your work in and it will let you know if anything appears plagiarised. It’s that simple.

6. Essay Roo: When you have a heavy workload, how do you get everything done on time? This writing service has the answer. When you’re overloaded, send your writing tasks to them. They can do them to even the tightest deadlines, freeing you up for other tasks.

business writing skills7. Readability Score: You may think your writing is perfect, but to others they may find it incomprehensible. Find out how easy it is to read your work with this tool. All you have to do is paste it in. The site will give you a readability score, based on several scales that will tell you the average reading age needed to understand your text. Then, you can edit your work accordingly.

8. High Impact Business Writing: Want to get really serious about improving your business writing skills? This course could be the answer. The whole course is held online, so you can access it wherever you are in the world. It features quizzes, interactive texts and exercises, so you practice the theory you learn and really get to grips with the skills. You can even connect with other learners, so you can network and learn from each other.

Try these tools out today and you’ll see just how quickly you can develop your business writing skills and become more productive. Like any skill, you need to practice it to make it perfect. These tools make it easy and doable within the average work day. Let us know how you get on with them, and whether you have any tool recommendations yourself.

Mary Walton

This is a guest blog post written by Mary Walton, who is a freelance writer and blogger at Simple Grad.

Fleep is a messenger for your teams and projects.

Interview with David Allen on productivity

We’re excited to bring you an exclusive interview with David Allen on productivity. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know who he is. Best known as the creator of “Getting Things Done“, David Allen is a productivity consultant  - or, if you ask us, a productivity guru.

Check out the video interview below, or continue to read what David Allen shared.

David Allen on productivity

David Allen (Source)

Hello, David! What did you write about productivity that was missing from the other books?

Most of all the other books I’ve read have very good things in them. They have a different perspective – and from different perspectives you get different ideas.

I think my perspectives are unique in some sense, because what I did was uncover one of the basic foundational principles at play when things really work – what are you doing that causes things to work.

We’ve all had better days than others, right? What makes the difference between one and the other? And I just uncovered what those were and made those principles explicit. So, once a principle goes from implicit to explicit, you can do it better and more elegantly.

For instance, a good example – most everybody has at some point felt overwhelmed or confused, then sat down, made a list and felt better. More in control and more focused. Well if you reverse engineered how that happened – nothing changed in your world, except how you engaged in your world changed.

If you figure out that “Oh, the way I’ve now engaged with my world changed by simply writing things down – it gave me more sense of control, more focus, more space in my head,” you’ll never keep anything in your head for the rest of your life. And I don’t! Your head’s a terrible office. So, I just uncovered that, and a lot of people have now copied it…

It took me 25 years to realize nobody else seemed to have come up with that the same way that I did. And that’s when I decided to write the first edition of “Getting Things Done”.

So yes – those kind of principles: that you do not have to go change who you are as a human being to be a lot more effective. But oftentimes there’s decisions you have to make and ways to think about things that produce a more effective result. That reduce the barrier of entry for you to get engaged in your world to get things done – and frankly, to be able to just relax.

getting things doneI just discovered them what those were because I needed them for myself, and it turned out that all those principles work for everybody else… So that just became part of the methodology.

I think another difference is that the Getting Things Done (GTD) system starts with where you are and not where you should be. Most people’s attention is on is not fulfilling their purpose on the planet, it’s the cat food they need and the babysitter that they need to change, and the holiday they are about to go on, the tyres on the car that they need to get… And that’s where people’s attention is. If that’s not under control, then don’t try to think about bigger stuff.

So, where most people are, actually, is down in the mundane aspects of their life. And GTD gives you a very effective methodology to deal with that. Not because that’s the most important stuff – it’s almost because those are not the most important things.

But if you don’t handle the unimportant things that you still have to do well, they’ll take up much more space than they ought to. The GTD methodology makes it easier to do that. I don’t think anybody else approached it from that way, because in a way, it’s sort of counter-intuitive.

People who work at startups often need to execute a lot of different tasks, so there’s a big context switch that can feel so unproductive… So is the solution to write down what you were just doing before the context switch?

the gtd methodology

Yeah! Well, you need a placeholder for it. If you don’t put a placeholder for that thing that’s not complete yet, and turn around to do something else, there’s a part of your pshyce still wrapped around that. And so, you’re not giving your full attention to the new thing.

Your psyche will try to multitask, but it can’t do it. That’s why it feels so frustrating and burns you out. If I write a note about that and drop it in a place that I know I’m going to get back to, my brain frees up and I can rapidly context switch.

Look at a martial artist who fights four people – they don’t fight four people at once, it’s one at a time. And each one is left nice and clean. There’s no residue from one to the next.

And indeed, there are times when you really do need to give yourself a longer timeframe to think more effectively about something, not switching those contexts. But it makes a huge difference when you have a really trusted personal system, to be able to keep placeholders for all those things that are not complete.

So, it’s about giving a pen and paper to our development team, and just let them write down the tasks like this?

Yeah, pen and paper and a tray that they throw the stuff into. And the process of emptying out that tray sooner or later, so that they’re appropriately engaged with that commitment still.

Sometimes, productivity is hindered by noise from the environment – so it is not under our control. How does your system help increase productivity between the person and the team?

First of all, there are no interruptions – there are only mismanaged inputs. You either shouldn’t get the input, so stop it – or if you should because it’s some commitment that you have, then you need to manage it well.

See, what GTD does is it actually improves every one of your intersections. The more out of control they are – the more in control you should be. So you don’t catch their virus.

Productivity simply means producing desired results or experiences. If you go to a party to have fun and you don’t have fun – it’s an unproductive party!

Most people think productivity has to do with business or busy-ness…  but no – productivity just means producing what you say you’re going to produce or want to produce.


What are the main obstacles for people becoming productive?

I think mostly it’s people’s addiction to stress. People are willing to tolerate having 3,000 unprocessed emails in their inbox. Why don’t you taste what it’s like to have nothing on your mind? That stuff just feels so uncomfortable.

But if you’re so used to it, you’re not motivated to do anything differently. You’re not motivated to do the things that actually produce a higher state of productivity.

“Life is OK.” – that’s the biggest problem, most people are not in big enough pain to change. And that’s why the first people to adopt my methodology graduated rapidly professionally and now they’re having to deal with whole new levels of accountability and detail. Their systems just crapped out, and it’s like “Oh my god, I need to get back to the control and focus that I experienced earlier on. Help!”

So it’s that sense of being out of control and not having the focus that they’re used to usually makes people the most interested in getting involved with this work.

But we’re also teaching kids this stuff – because they get it right away! It’s like “Oh, sure, that’s what you do!” That’s our big vision – let’s get it to the kids and into the educational system, so we don’t have to change a bunch of cranky adults.

Fleep is a messenger for your teams and projects.

Introducing Fleep Teams!

Fleep Teams

We have taken another step to simplifying your communication with your teams and project contributors – today, we’re introducing Fleep Teams to the public!

What are Teams in Fleep? 

Fleep Teams are groups of Fleep and/or email users. Fleep teams make it easier for you to manage and organize the conversations you have with your teams – be it your internal team, your project team that includes external partners and clients, your book club, or all of them!

Fleep Teams

What happens when you create a Fleep team?

Fireworks! Once you have created a Fleep team, you can add it to conversations – and all team members will then be able to see and access those conversations. These conversations become the team’s conversations – but don’t fret, you can also add individual people from outside the team into the conversation one by one, if you wish.

The best part? If someone new joins your organization, all you need to do is add them to the Fleep team, and they will automatically be added to all of the team’s conversations. Should someone leave your organization, removing them from the Fleep team will also remove them from all team conversations.

By default, all team conversations are organized under the team’s label in your list of conversations, and they are not shown under your Recent conversations. You can change and customize all of this in the Manage labels view, if you wish.

Fleep TeamsWhat if I already have a system in place with my team’s conversations in Fleep?

That’s cool too! We’re not trying to mess up your system. But there’s probably someone in your team who’s been responsible for adding new team members to team conversations or removing the ones who have left. They will probably appreciate having a Fleep team set up…

Creating a Fleep team and adding existing conversations to the team will help ensure that all team members indeed are in all the chats they need to be a part of. And while you’re at it, you can also clean up all team conversations with conversation bulk actions – by removing people from conversations they do not need to be a part of. 

Nice! Anything else I should know?
  • If you’re a member of a Fleep team, you will be automatically added to all of the team’s conversations.
  • You cannot leave a team’s conversation without leaving the team. If the conversation is not too relevant for you, muting the conversation may be a good idea.
  • All team members can add and remove team members, as well as add and remove team conversations. Because Fleep is democratic like that. And most teams have found that the self-organizing nature works well, lowering administrative overhead. (For the teams that need admin functionalities: these are coming soon.)
  • You can create and belong to as many teams as you wish. So, you can have your internal team, your Project X team, your Project Y team… You get the point.
  • The maximum number of members in a team is 200.

How do Fleep Teams work?
Can I belong to several Fleep teams?
Can I add external people to my team conversations?
How can I leave a team conversation?
Can Fleep teams have administrators?
Can I leave a team conversation without leaving the team?

Have any questions or feedback for us? Contact us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch through our social media channels - TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram.

Fleep: Q2 review and plans for Q3

The first half of 2016 is over – which means it’s time for our quarterly review blog post. Let’s take a look at what got done in Q2, and what we have planned for Q3.

Fleep q2

We had a furry friend visit us at our Q3 planning meeting :)

First, a review of what got done in Q2:

  • Fleep TeamsFleep Teams - Fleep Teams was our biggest project for Q2. This feature makes Fleep even easier to use for team conversations, allowing you to create and belong to several teams. Read all about it in this blog post.
  • Conversations bulk actions - this is a powerful feature that lets you quickly apply conversation actions to multiple conversations at a time: delete, archive, mark read, add and remove members.
  • Invite people – we added a button that you can use to invite your friend or colleagues to try out Fleep. Find it on the left pane – or if you’ve disabled it, you can always find it in the Account menu popup.
  • Sign in with Microsoft - we’ve supported sign in with Google for a long while already, and now you can also sign in to Fleep with your Microsoft account.
  • Several improvements to UX – new conversation flow rehaul, ability to create tasks and pins from taskboard/pinboard respectively.

So, what’s next? Here’s what we have planned for Q3:

  • fleep email integrationEmail list behavior - we’re putting the finishing touches on this one. It’s the option to have Fleep conversations acting as email lists for email participants, using the conversation email address as the sender. This will significantly improve the experience of big group conversations that include email participants.
  • Custom conversation email address – this feature will let you edit the conversation email address (that currently looks something like conv.3ak374r9djzioqoj@fleep.io), making it easier to remember and share. Also, it’ll go really well with the email list behavior described above.
  • Multiple VM’s support - we’re continuing work on scaling our server infrastructure to better serve increasing server load.
  • Managed teams and managed conversations – while all of Fleep is pretty democratic, some companies need admin controls over teams and conversations. So, we are developing what we call managed teams and managed conversations that will allow for administrative control.

Hopefully you like the direction we’re going in! Should you have any feedback or questions for us – don’t hesitate to reach out to us at support@fleep.io. Let’s also stay in touch via social media: TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram.