The 8 Best Collaboration Tools for Virtual Teams

Working remotely in more than nine different countries

At Time Doctor, we work with remote staff members in more than nine different countries.

As you can imagine, team collaboration has a range of unique challenges. There are a number of tools that we use in our company, most of them are free.

With over 10 years of experience under our belts, we’ve tried the best and worst of many collaborative tools – we thought it would be valuable to share the tools we we use and what exactly we use them for.

Free Bonus!  We’ve created a Cheat Sheet for this article that you can download for free. So, what’s in this cheat sheet? Point-by-point comparison of our recommended collaboration tools, what it does and how we use it on our businesses. Get it here

Google Docs

Googel DocsGoogle Docs provides free online spreadsheets and document management with a Gmail/Google Account.

The spreadsheet feature is particularly useful when you need to have multiple people working on the same spreadsheet at the same time (something you can’t do with Dropbox). It doesn’t have all of the features of Excel, but it’s very useful for collaborative editing of documents (including text files).

You can use Google Docs effectively as a company “wiki” where anyone in the company is able to add any information to the document.

How we use Google Docs: Domain management, financial reports, feature suggestion lists, payroll coverage, performance appraisals, ranking reports, login information, directory lists and online resources.


Jing Screencast

Although you need to pay for some features, Jing is a fantastic free collaboration tool.

It allows you to take a screen or video capture of anything on your desktop. Screen captures can be easily annotated, and you can record your voice along with any video to easily explain something.

You can upload the capture to and they’ll turn it into a simple link where anyone can view the capture. This is perfect for communicating with designers for example when you wish to write comments and explain to a designer what needs to be changed.

Here’s an example of a screencast:

How we use Jing: Communicating with designers and developers, creating training and instructional videos for induction, walkthroughs when screen sharing isn’t an option because of different time zones.


Skype20 years ago, if you’d told someone you’d be able to have a meeting with five people in different countries it would have seemed like an absurd notion, particularly for if you mentioned that it was free.

Skype is now commonplace and has become the standard for voice calls over the internet–as well as chat, video conferencing and file transfers.

It’s free to use across a number of devices, including smartphones, tablets and just about every system known to man.

More than 520 million people worldwide use Skype – if you haven’t joined the party yet, you should download it and create an account today.

If you’re an existing user and chat or video conferencing is part of  your business, you might want to think about how to make your Skype usage more productive; Firstly you want to make sure that team members are not distracted by messages from friends. So consider a policy where all team members have separate Skype accounts for work, and the rule to only use this account with work contacts.

Also if a text chat discussion starts going past a few sentences at a time, it’s usually faster to switch to a quick phone call and discuss thing the old fashioned way.

How we use Skype: Training, quick questions to other team members, all of our phone calls (including to clients), video conferencing, daily meetings for our development team, simple screen sharing.

Screen sharing technology –  Skype allows you to share your screen to another user, and Jing allows to record your screen.

If you need something extra, there are some great screen sharing technologies around which are perfect for technical support or sharing information that needs a visual demonstration on a person’s computer screen. There are several companies that provide this technology, the ones we recommend to try are: Yuuguu , Team Viewer and Dimdim.


DropboxDropbox is one of those ideas so simple you can’t help but wonder why you didn’t invent it yourself.

It makes file sharing a breeze and nearly guarantees that you’ll never need a USB storage device ever again.

Whenever you add something to your Dropbox folder it will be automatically available to other people with access to the folder.

For example, you can put an Excel spreadsheet in a Dropbox and if one person makes changes to the spreadsheet it will be saved to the cloud and will be available to others with access to the shared folder (Google Docs however is better for simultaneous edits where two people are editing the spreadsheet at the same time).

With Drop Box if there are simultaneous edits, two separate versions are created and you then have to manually edit and combine the two documents.

How we use Dropbox: sharing training materials, files, sharing files with clients, backing up documents, images, passwords, accessing files from multiple computers.


MantisMantis is an online bug tracking script, free under the GNU License).

It’s a great way to record and log any bugs, improvements or feature requests.

It’s designed for development teams but you could probably use it for any issue management collaboration where teams are involved.

For a fee bit of software it has an impressive feature list. You need your own server to install and use Mantis.

How we use Mantis: Bug tracking, feature requests. We use Zendesk for support tickets and knowledge base, and Snapabug for instant chat support. Issues are forwarded to Zendesk using and anything that needs to be fixed ends up on Mantis.


freshbooksFreshbooks is simple to setup and is probably the most widely used web based invoicing application.

It has a neat feature set and allows your staff to manage and add time to a company invoice.

Freshbooks also has some neat add-ons like Basecamp integration. We have plans to integrate Time Doctor with Freshbooks within the next months, and it will automatically sync clients and projects between the 2 platforms.  Not really a “team collaboration tool” but a great tool for business.

How we use Freshbooks: invoicing clients, managing billable timesheets, creating estimates.


basecampBasecamp is an online collaboration tool which can be used to effectively manage projects, tasks lists and team communication.

It takes a very nuts and bolt approach to optimizing workflow and is far less complicated than many of their main competitors like Central Desktop.

There’s an increasing number of new collaboration tools that are similar to Basecamp – most of them are hit and miss or get bogged down because of feature overkill.

How we use Basecamp: Managing tasks assignment, managing projects, communication and team spaces. We are using Basecamp mainly for internal messages and discussion now as Time Doctor (see below) effectively manages most tasks and do lists.

Time Doctor

timedoctorLast but not least, Time Doctor.

Think of it as the infrastructure for your virtual business.

It’s like having a “virtual office”  and fills in the gaps that other applications seem to have forgotten about.

You can use Time Doctor for time personal and team time tracking so that you know exactly what everyone is working on and how long they are spending on these activities. It increases productivity of a virtual team in multiple ways, and helps to prevent productivity problems such as personal Internet use during work hours.

Time Doctor can also be used for monitoring attendance, which is sometimes difficult with a virtual team.

Time Doctor is also a great collaboration tool for virtual teams because it helps managers and team members know what others are working on. Daily reports to managers show the top priorities of their team and the tasks accomplished in the previous day.

How we use Time Doctor: Managing to do lists, managing attendance, automatic time sheets, website monitoring, application usage monitoring, automated daily reports, improving productivity.

time tracking software

Leave a Reply

July 13, 2015 5:52 am

Great List…GrouRocket is another Team Collaboration Software, it’s Key features include advanced search which gives you the required content that is stored anywhere, sharing of files as well as uploading and downloading them and sending push notifications about group activities.

June 19, 2015 5:46 am

Excellent write-up, however you neglected to mention an excellent application from DRE Application referred to as the particular BCN. This bcn provides several great characteristics for taking care of group collaboration similar to personal spaces, debate message boards, task to-do provides, some sort of record selection, plus a calendar, etc., plus it has a internet conferencing heart thus it’s similar to a couple of tools for the buying price of 1. They provide you with infinite facts storage far too as well as their particular customer service is a plus. They are truly on the job as well as aided… Read more »

June 11, 2015 4:11 pm

Nice recommendations Rob. I wonder if you have tested a team collaboration tool?

K Lenc
June 9, 2015 2:05 pm

Have you considered adding to the list?

nishit singhania
May 8, 2015 5:31 pm

I haven’t heard of Time Doctor as yet, will check it out though. We are using Framebench ( to collaborate with our virtual team members and clients. As we are a digital agency, we needed a tool which supports all media files and has a cloud storage for saving versions. This tool helps us making hands on changes as per the client’s requirements. This is a perfect tool for any digital agency I suppose, it has inbuilt chat box and also a feature for one can multitask with this.

March 21, 2015 3:30 pm

There is a new tool available for video conferencing online at It allows you to have online video calls from anywhere as long as you have internet access. Also it does not require installation or any additional equipment. The test version is available for free in March.

John William
February 19, 2015 5:28 am

Nice List !

I’d like to add Invoicera to the list of tools. It is a web based invoicing application and can be used to effectively manage projects, tasks lists and team communication. You can track the work done by your team through daily time sheets.
Manage your team on the go by using it’s mobile application.

Lottie F.
February 6, 2015 1:22 pm

I use Beesy (iPad/Web) because it is for project management ant collaboration but also for self productivity and organization. Its strong real-time collaborative features (shared project, to-dos and note taking) enables a reliable communication between collaborators while its dynamic note taking feature and automated to-dos lets you manage your own professional business routine.
Have a look at it:


[…] and on the phone. However, there are many tools you can use to make collaboration easier. Here are eight basic virtual team tools to add to your virtual business’ tool […]


[…] here are collaboration tools you can use to manage remote […]


[…] TIP: For more tips on how to managing a  remote worker, take a look at these 7 useful strategies for managing virtual staff. See also the 8 best collaboration tools for virtual teams […]

George Campbell
October 10, 2014 8:01 am

In addition to above, you may even want to try using WebEx, GoMeetNow, Gotomeeting, RHUB web conferencing servers etc.

Matt Bowd
August 13, 2014 4:43 am

indeed! we are using that tools too and so far it’s a great progress. We work well with my virtual team using that collaboration tools..

Alejandro Navia
August 6, 2014 7:03 pm

Riffpad fosters information flow within the secure environment of an enterprise space. It allows dispersed teams to work together seamlessly and productively.

Unlike bloated “full featured” software that is difficult to comprehend, it is designed to be simple to learn and use with a vastly reduced learning curve. This makes Riffpad the ideal collaborative platform for small companies.

Denis A.
April 18, 2014 8:53 am

For quick questions to other team members, video conferencing, daily meetings for our development team we use
It’s a very fast way to call other teams members: we can see everyone at every moment and start a call in no time.
All of this in a private “team space”, so you don’t get interrupted by friends while working

February 28, 2014 5:10 pm

The above mentioned tools are the best ones for personal use, how ever if you are technical consultant like me, I suggest sophisticated solutions that would ease up your job in terms of tracking updates and communication log regarding the document, Microsoft Drive and SharePoint I found are extensive and useful, off late I am using HighQ which I seem to like more than any other one.

January 24, 2014 1:58 am

3single (dot) com is a great site. It also has live chat so you can chat to other people online. Good luck.

James Connor
November 8, 2013 7:43 pm

For our marketing and creative teams, we use Workgroups DaVinci for team collaboration. It’s great because we can proof a file together in real-time and we can all see everyone’s annotations and comments.

Maria Sarramito
June 7, 2013 8:27 pm

To this list, I would add 10,000ft. It provides great insight into the business side of a design firm and can be used both in a high as well as low interaction way. The main benefit is that rather than focusing on detailed tasks, this software gives you the big picture of the state of your teams and projects. Basically it highlights the key information of each project, such as team members allocation, projects progress, remaining budget, and future deadlines. Good option if you’re looking for a high-level management tool. Here’s more independent and unbiased information about this tool:

May 28, 2013 1:23 pm

Thanks for an article and great list as well. I just want to add KanbanTool . Do you have any experiences with this tool?

Vishal Kapur
February 25, 2013 8:30 pm

We’re working on collaborative screen sharing tool called Screenhero:

People are using Screenhero for pair programming, remote code reviews, design reviews, etc. We want it to become an indispensable tool for remote teams. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Edwin Frondozo
February 17, 2013 11:49 pm

Great article. One thing that you are missing is virtual phone systems and how they connect the team with each other and their customers over one unified platform. We launched a tool called Slingshot to meet this very need. Try it out for free :-)


Rick Gadbois
January 26, 2013 12:41 am

Good article. I would love to see what you are using now in 2013. How about an update?
Rick Gadbois

July 19, 2012 10:09 am

I can offer one more tool which I can advise and which I use. This is Comindware task management system which is just ideal for team work and collaboration.

March 28, 2012 12:43 pm

great article. we use teamlab in our team and google docs for documents

February 24, 2012 6:32 pm

Great article.

I love the section on DropBox.

Dropbox is amazing, and not only is it a ubiquitous thumb drive, but I want to use it for my virtual software development lifecycle. (VSDL).

If you and your developer are sharing a code-base on Dropbox, what could be better?


February 20, 2012 10:26 am

Thanks for the wonderful article! I’ve tried almost 70% of those listed above and Dropbox is very convenient. I would like to add to the list!

Nicholas Hughes
November 11, 2011 7:41 am

Great list just want to add TABB
Our team is using it and it is worthy to try.

November 8, 2011 9:15 pm

Hadn’t heard of Binfire till just now. Have heard of Deskaway though. We looked at that and Basecamp when we chose Dooster. Dooster has been so good for us. We couldn’t get our act together and were missing meetings. The increase in business was much wanted but we could hardly cope with it and it was devastating missing meetings. I reckon all these softwares are quite similar and they’re effective. I’m not technical but Dooster has good customer service so I have been okay. Best of all I’m no longer terrified… Read more »

Cristian Marine
October 31, 2011 5:58 pm

I’d love to know if the Freshbooks integration was finalized after the 6 months period that the blog post indicated. If so, where can I find more information?

Thanks in advance,


January 25, 2012 9:09 pm

Hi Christian, we’re working on Basecamp integration first which should be completed early 2012

February 28, 2012 3:51 am

Hi Katherine,Thanks for rediang the post and sharing your thoughts. I find the whole are of research in neuroscience interesting, even when it isn’t persuasive. If you are looking for interesting insights into the relation of empathy, neuroscience, and group processes I can’t think of a better resource than Ralph Stacey’s book, Complexity and Group Processes. I would have integrated its insights into this post but must admit that, at least for now, I remain unable to integrate its convincing analysis into my own thoughts around empathy and collaboration.

July 8, 2011 4:24 pm

Hi! I’m sure you’ll be amazed with Binfire. Binfire has cool collaboration features you will surely love working on projects with your team. Binfire has what other project management solutions don’t, like enabling users to follow or not follow tasks; organize milestones by context; it allows tagging of milestones for quick searching and organization; make a quick view of item history; and clear hierarchy of tasks and milestones. I find Binfire project management and collaboration tools very helpful, and so I highly recommend that you get to try it too!

In order to use Binfire, please visit this website:

February 14, 2011 10:17 am

It’s a good article entailing FreshBooks, Google Docs and Mantis but one can add DeskAway to the list as a feature rich and simple to use project collaboration tool for virtual teams. It’s got free and paid versions and economical compared to some of the other project collaboration tools.

February 11, 2011 1:00 am

I started using Time Doctor two weeks ago. Since then, I have fired one Vworker that spent at least 2 hours each day studying facebook, adult sites, online games, itunes downloading etc, and he probably spent even more time before I installed TD. So TD has saved me thousands already. Imagine i had hired this guy for another year? I’ve used dozens of PM tools over the years, none come close to what TD does. I’m sure my team saves more time daily, because I save at least 1 hour daily by using it for myself! Thanks Rob Rawson, and… Read more »

November 25, 2011 6:30 am

You should try hiring on values and behaviours and treating your workers like adults

January 26, 2013 3:19 pm

I think if you feel the need to make a comment like this, you have not had any experience managing virtual teams. It has nothing to do with believing your staff is unethical, it has to do with understanding the power of the internet’s ability to draw people’s attention at every moment and become the time-such many employees (and managers) become victim to.

July 30, 2013 1:18 am

I have left jobs because of this software. I use proprietary online software as a contractor, when the company learned what software I used. They kicked me out. Bad thing was, they didn’t know how to use it. They wanted to re-hire me, but I won’t.
Personally, I find it devaluing my work into “hours” spent than finished projects. I find myself slowing down my work process because I was working “hourly” not because I wanted to finish it. For example, I can do a presentation in an hour but is scheduled to be done for a day but because of… Read more »

February 28, 2012 2:44 pm

Yes… you should definitely hire on values and behaviours as best you can. I could be wrong, but Simon are you indicating using Time Doctor means one is NOT treating workers like adults?

If not then ignore what I am about to say… If so then I think you may be naive. Do you have any idea how much money businesses lose due to lost productivity from employees doing what they should NOT be doing. It’s in the billions. Even after interviewing, checking references, and doing the best you can to weed out problem employees there are… Read more »

December 13, 2011 3:05 am

I completely agree with you. I think a stringent hiring process solves 90% of your problems before they start

December 9, 2010 4:35 am

Hi Liquid Planner guys. There are literally dozens and dozens of competing online project management tools such as Basecamp and LiquidPlanner. Here are ten examples to choose from: Wrike, Central Desktop, huddle, 5pm, teamworkpm, glasscubes, mingle, Goplan, attask. Had a look at the overview of yours and it looks pretty cool and probably applicable for some companies.

None of these online project management tools competes with Time Doctor or has the features of Time Doctor specifically:

1. Time tracking that actually works. As in… Read more »

December 8, 2010 3:39 am

Interesting post. If you moved over to LiquidPlanner, than you could eliminate the need for Basecamp AND for TimeDoctor. LiquidPlanner is an excellent collaboration system an also has integrated timeshets & task management.

David M
December 7, 2010 7:43 pm

All tools listed have proved to be extremely useful for collaboration. I’ve gone through the majority of those applications myself, and definitely agree with you. I think you should take note of business management applications, as they can be the best wish of a virtual team.

Proper business management applications bring collaboration to the front of all business operations. If you look at WORKetc, this application makes managing every aspect of your small business much simpler, as its a combination of CRM, PM, and billing features. Not only are you managing all of this under one system, you’re collaborating on… Read more »

December 3, 2010 4:37 pm


Great list just wanted to add

Best regards,

December 3, 2010 2:25 pm

Office 365 is another tool to add to the list – it will be out early next year and includes Office Web Apps, e-mail, online collaboration technology and unified communications with instant messaging, Internet phone and video conferencing.

Jodi E.
Microsoft SMB Outreach Team

December 3, 2010 1:31 pm

Good article, but you neglected to mention a great tool from DRE Software called the BCN. The bcn has several cool features for managing team collaboration like virtual spaces, discussion forums, project to-do lists, a file library, and a calendar, etc., plus it has a web conferencing center so it’s like 2 tools for the price of 1. They give you unlimited data storage too and their customer service is great. They are really hands on and helped me not only with technical support but also with process support. I would highly recommend the bcn. … Read more »

November 27, 2013 9:09 am

I haven’t heard of the BCN. What’s that stand for? Someone should probably update this to Google Drive – huge fan. Also for business version of Similar with chat and video chat, but productivity tools built in.