May 16, 2022

How to make your business more sustainable (with examples from Cobry)

“Sustainability” largely entered the business lexicon around the time of rising environmental consciousness, when talks of “going green” were becoming increasingly pronounced. A few years ago there was a dramatic shift in the business landscape, spurred on by a tide of public opinion that called for changes to the way we do things in order to take us back from the cliff edge of global warming - for, as any climate change activist will readily point out, there is no Planet B.

Sustainability is often synonymised with being environmentally friendly, and this is indeed half the deck. This does mean there is also another half to it: the human side. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, used by many organisations (ourselves included) as a measurement of how sustainable their practices are, have ten of these goals relating to how we live as a society. Diversity, justice, good working conditions and innovation are just as important to sustainable development as eliminating your carbon footprint.

To put it in simple terms, sustainability can be thought of as an elimination exercise: an elimination of activities that will, sooner or later, result in somebody saying: “we can’t keep going like this”.

So how does one move towards sustainability? Having been through a sustainability push ourselves, here are some of the methods we use!

Going green: the environmental side of sustainability

How can you ensure that your operations are the greenest they can be? There are several solutions that we implement.

  • While the installation of recycling bins has become something of a sustainability cliche (and some even more cynical people may call it a hallmark of greenwashing), it is worth mentioning and implementing since landfill contributes to 11% of global CO2 emissions. With both points in mind, we’ll just quickly say we do it and move things along!
  • Select an office space that uses renewable energy: this was one of the key reasons why we moved our offices to where they are currently located.
  • Encourage staff to use greener methods of transport: Cobry participates in the cycle-to-work scheme as well as the more recently released electric vehicles scheme, and our offices are located near bus and train stations to encourage staff to take public transport.
  • Go paperless as much as possible - not only will it save you money in printing costs, but it’s also much friendlier towards trees. All of Cobry’s documents are stored electronically, on Google Workspace, ensuring that our paper usage is kept to a minimum.

Taking care of your staff: The human side of sustainability

Staff sustainability is one of the key reasons why sustainability is more than a nice-to-have, for several reasons. An enthusiastic workforce is one that is more productive, is more likely to go the extra mile and is easier to retain. And increasingly, customers pay very close attention to how a company treats its staff when making purchase decisions.

Therefore, taking care of your staff is a core part of sustainability. There are several ways you can achieve this.

Salaries are worth discussing in their own paragraph. Anything less than a suitable wage is a false economy: you can have all the coffee machines in the world in your office and throw a pizza party for the ages, but as long as staff can’t make ends meet you’ll be saying goodbye to them soon enough. Becoming a certified living wage employer, as Cobry is, is one way to ensure that your staff will have enough to survive and thrive relative to local costs of living. Note to any companies based in London: as the Big Smoke is pricier, the living wage there is two pounds higher than in the rest of the country.

Moving onto other benefits, here are some that Cobry provides to every staff member:

  • Constant learning opportunities, in the form of in-person training and online courses and reading materials.
  • Provision of out-of-work benefits, such as socials and free books.
  • Free coffee, which we get delivered to employees’ homes.
  • Participation in government schemes such as the electric vehicle and cycle-to-work schemes - some of these can be joined at no extra cost to your business.
  • Flexible hours - staff members can have all sorts of different personal preferences for when to work for various reasons. Some may be balancing work and care responsibilities, some may feel more productive at different times of the day and some may prefer to take a longer lunch break.
  • Generous pension contributions - even if your team is young, it’s never too early to prepare them for retirement.
  • Allowing people to work remotely - Cobry is a remote-first workplace, and four of our current eighteen staff members live outside of Glasgow where our offices are based. Reduced stress, increased inclusivity for disabled individuals or parents, and the ability to work from areas with lower costs of living are just some of the reasons why working from home has been a boon to the human side of sustainability.
  • A four-day workweek - this was probably the most ambitious benefit Cobry sought to provide to staff, and after a successful trial that found it significantly reduced stress and burnout, and that the aim of achieving the 80/100/100 rule (80% time, 100% pay, 100% productivity) had been accomplished, we decided to make it an official policy. Flexibility is key here: staff can choose which days to take off, can split time off across multiple days or can choose to opt-out altogether.

The company you keep: ensuring your suppliers are sustainable

However green your own operations are, partnering with less-than-responsible organisations will spill over onto your sustainability score. Additionally, responsible suppliers can become a strong talking point marketing-wise. Note that suppliers are not just limited to groups that supply your product’s components (which may have been the first thought to enter your head if you’re a service provider).

For example, consider where you get your coffee from (everyone loves a good cup of coffee, don’t they?) - we get ours from Dear Green Coffee, a Glasgow-based supplier with sustainability right at the heart of what they do - a recently certified B corp, they make sure to treat people and the planet well by not only looking inward but also vetting suppliers carefully.

Digital infrastructure is another supplier to consider for sustainability wins. One of the major reasons we partnered with Google is that it is the greenest cloud solution available: already carbon-neutral, by 2030 Google aims to have its data centres running on completely carbon-free energy and deliver six times the computing capacity of alternatives for the same amount of power. Additionally, Google provides its solutions for free to many sustainability-oriented nonprofits, and all Google Cloud customers can access a tool called the Carbon Suite which enables them to calculate their carbon footprint.

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With sustainability close to our hearts and technical expertise to match, Cobry is the ideal partner to move your organisation to a more sustainable way of doing things with Google Cloud (as well as a myriad of other benefits). Get in touch with us to get started!

September 30, 2021

Why You Should Adopt a Hybrid Model with Google Workspace.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the advancements in technology this has provided, a new way of working has become all the more possible. This blog aims to provide an insight into why Google Workspace is the perfect suite of collaboration and productivity tools to harness a Hybrid Model and therefore make the process of working from home, the office or anywhere for that matter any different or less efficient an experience.

So first, let’s set the scene.

What is Hybrid Working?

Put simply, hybrid working is a model in which employees split their time between the office and working remotely. The intention of this is to provide some flexibility for workers, making a work-life balance more easy to achieve and all the while not hampering organisational productivity. Some organisations may have this split between home and office working set fairly rigidly, whereby employees work from home half of the week and at the office the other half. Other organisations may allow their employees to simply choose which days they’d like to come in or not. The important thing to remember is there’s no right or wrong way to organise this split. 

That being said, there are fine margins for error when it comes to the tools at employees disposal. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the innovative Google Workspace features that can be harnessed to ensure hybrid working is seamless.

Google Workspace Hybrid Model Features.

1. Setting your availability in Google Calendar.

Let’s start with the basics. You work from home and you work in the office. But how are people going to be aware of this? This could be important for a plethora of reasons. Let’s say for instance you’re looking to host a meeting, or someone’s looking to invite you to a meeting. They may be able to meet you face-to-face if you’re in the office but know if you’re working from home you won’t be able to. 

Previously, there was no easy way to indicate this. With a new hybrid model geared update to Google Calendar, this once problematic situation is mitigated. Take a look.

Indicate at the top of your calendar where you'll be working from.

That’s not all though. For the avoidance of any potential confusion or a colleague turning up at your front door for a face-to-face meeting - when accepting an invitation for a calendar invite, you can indicate whether you’re joining virtually or in person.

2. Spaces - Your Place for Hybrid Model Collaboration

What were once ‘Rooms’ in Google Chat have been supercharged, becoming a hub for all of Google Workspace’s key principles; collaboration, communication, efficiency. This has been done through the power of tight integrations between Workspace’s innovative collaborative tools such as Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet and Tasks. 

Here’s an example. Your team is working on a new project and has started collaborating on a strategy document. They want to be able to communicate as they collaborate all the while in real-time. With spaces, users are able to still access their chat as they would in a ‘Room’ format, but can also collaborate and edit a Doc/Sheet/Slide all at the same time in the same tab.

This is such a powerful new addition to Google Workspace. It can be done from home, in the office, on your desktop or one your phone. It truly encapsulates how Google Workspace will help organisations fully harness a Hybrid Model.

3. Google Meet - Making Meetings Unified in a Hybrid Model

You can imagine it can’t you? Or maybe you’ve even experienced it. You’re in a meeting, some participants are in the office, some are at home, one person’s in a coffee shop having a double macchiato. It’s disjointed, it’s chaotic, it’s inefficient.

Google has put a lot of work into ensuring that when you’re in a meeting it’s a unified experience that goes without a hitch, irrespective of location or device. Rolling out in November, we’ll see Companion mode appear in Google Meet. 

With Companion mode, users can host or join a meeting from within a conference room using their laptop while taking advantage of the in-room audio and video all the while avoiding that terrible feedback you often get when someone else in the room forgets to mute their microphone or speaker. 

Additionally, this functionality lets users share content or see presentations on their own device, access the meeting chat and whiteboard, initiate and vote on polls, or post a question in Q&A, just as can be done from home. To ensure that users have greater choice over how they participate in meetings, live-translated captions will be available in Meet and through Companion mode some time by the end of the year!

Conclusion

We’ve listed 3 key features here that can help enable your organisation to collaborate efficiently and effectively with a hybrid working model. Whilst this is undeniably impressive, what’s even more impressive is that Google Workspace’s underlying principles have always supported the ability to work from anywhere on any device. So although some of these hybrid working features may be recent, they are being added on to foundations that have always supported the key principles of this working model.

If you’d like to find out how you can get started with Google Workspace and harness its ability to facilitate a hybrid working model or maybe you already use Workspace and want to get more from it, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

December 4, 2020

Google Apps Script – Automate your Workflow

Welcome to the latest edition of the Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge. Our weekly dose of cloud, company knowledge and - of course - caffeine! Join us on our mid-morning break and learn as we do. This week's topic of discussion - Google Apps Script. 

What is Google Apps Script?

Google Apps Script is a development platform included within Google Workspace that makes it fast and easy to build custom solutions that integrate with apps such as Gmail, Docs, Sheets and Drive.

Google Apps Script

Apps Script uses JavaScript programming language which makes it really easy to use if you have fundamental programming knowledge. The platform exists completely in Google Drive, meaning there is nothing to download or configure and no infrastructure to maintain - Google takes care of all of that. 

Why Use Apps Script?

Google Apps Script allows you to simplify your day-to-day routines, and automate workflows that would have previously been tedious to do. By automating these tasks and processes, organisations can save money, time and effort, and can focus on what really matters. Additionally, using Apps Script to automate workflows reduces the possibility of human error.

Cobry uses Google Apps Script to allow Workflow Automation

How does Cobry use Apps Script?

At Cobry, one of our core principles is the value we add for our clients as their Google Workspace Partner. We provide high quality service by identifying challenges faced by an organisation and finding the best solution to resolve these challenges.

By listening to the unique needs of our clients, we understand the day to day operations and processes of their business and how they can be improved. Oftentimes, our experience tells us that the solution to the challenges faced by our customers lies within Apps Script, and we are more than able - and happy - to provide this solution. 

Cobry's Folder Generator

Our Folder Generator is a great example of how Google Apps Script can automate workflows. It's a user-friendly web app that allows users to generate a folder structure at the press of a button. This is then replicated to create standardisation across the company Google Drive. Thus, saving the organisation precious time and effort.

Interested in what else we can do? Have a look at how Cobry can help you automate workflows.  

To sum up, Apps Script allows organisations to automate workflows and ultimately, save time, costs and efforts. As our very own Managing Director, Colin, puts it “Workflow Automation through use of Google Apps Script is exactly the future style of working that everyone should be aspiring to".


Ready to transform your systems and processes? Get in touch and we’d be happy to help. That's all for now. See you back here next week for the next instalment of the Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge.

November 20, 2020

Migration – The Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge

Migrating to Google Workspace | The Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge

Bored of insignificant, at-home coffee breaks? You no longer have to be, because you now have the opportunity to join ours! Each week, our team gets together for the Cobry Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge, a break dedicated to learning all things cloud technology. From individual apps to complex subjects, we discuss everything we know, and now we want to share our expertise with you! So get ready to quench your thirst for knowledge as well as coffee - this week we’re talking all things Migration! 

What is Migration? 

Migration involves hoovering up all of an organisation's legacy data and moving it to Google Workspace. This includes emails, calendars, contacts and files. Migration is optional, with some organisations choosing to move to the cloud with a blank slate due to messy and disorganised current systems. Want to learn more about moving to the cloud? We have loads more info here

Migration is moving all data

Why Migrate?

So, why bother migrating then if it is not essential? It is the Cobry way - we migrate to minimise disruption. By starting with familiar data, we can ensure users have the best possible experience with Google Workspace. This means they can learn to use the new tools available to them without the challenge of also rebuilding their working environment. 

Cobry’s approach to Migration

It is our belief that users should not experience the migration - they should experience the tools. Essentially, employees should log out of their old system on a Friday evening and by Monday morning they return to all of their same data - just in a new workspace! Whilst there are some nuances, all of our migrations follow this structure:

Cobry's Migration Timeline

There are lots of tools to tackle migration. The tool we choose depends on multiple factors, but primarily are:

  • Migration Speed - This is how fast items transfer from the source to the destination. Different tools are coded differently so they all migrate at different speeds.
  • Configurability - This is how configurable a tool is. Sometimes the client has some very specific requirements that we have to fulfill so configurability is pivotal in some situations.
  • Data Source - This is the most important factor when deciding a tool. Here, we consider where the data currently lies. This could be local, on the server, or on the cloud.

Once the migration is complete, that does not mean our partnership has to be. Our approach is to build trust and lasting relationships through adding value and tailoring Google Workspace to your exact needs. 

So there you have it, a whistle stop tour of all things Migration. Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s Cafetiere of Cloud Knowledge.

October 29, 2020

Google Workspace: All you need to know about G Suite’s evolution.

On the 6th of October 2020, a blog post from Google paired with social media activity, press releases and everything else you can imagine helped to pave the way for the launch of G Suite’s new incarnation - Google Workspace.

Change can be hard (we're experts at managing it) and it can cause a lot of uncertainty and unnecessary stress. This change is no different. However, we’re here to provide clarity and explain all you need to know about Google Workspace - the home of all of your favourite G Suite tools, with even more power!

Branding Change

With a new, invigorated Google Workspace comes all new icons. The new icons serve to deeper align with the Google brand image, taking on Google’s core colours to create a vibrant and engaging image. They help to demonstrate Google’s constant innovation and the blending of colours also help show how Google Workspace fosters collaboration, with key tools being deeply integrated.

https://youtu.be/bE31y5HbukA
A quick video demonstrating the icons' transformation

All Users: Connected

As alluded to above, the new icons for Google Workspace (G Suite) help to bolster how integrated the user experience is. So let’s delve into just how integrated this is!

Gmail, your one-stop-shop for communication

We’ll start where most people start their days: Gmail. You’ve just clocked on and are wanting to check your emails before you begin to start your activities for the day. You’re needing approval from a colleague so you can continue the task at hand. So you go out of Gmail and into Chat, and you send them a message. They reply, they’re suggesting a quick video call. So you go off Chat and into Google Meet. Surely this could be more efficient? Well, now it is. In the new and improved Gmail, users are able to message in Chat, use Google Voice, browse their emails and even start calls on Google Meet all from the one place.

Docs and Chat, integrated in Google Workspace

The launch of Google Workspace has put an even firmer focus on efficiency and making communication, collaboration and productivity as logical as possible. If you’re working from home like we are, our day-to-day lives are closer to our working lives than ever before. With this in mind, there’s a real pressure that we take that extra 30 minutes in the evening to finish a task. And with that you’re left wondering: could we streamline and save 30 minutes in the rest of the day to save you eating into your day-to-day life?

With the integration of collaboration and communication tools alike, it not only seems possible - it is possible. 

Docs and Chat becoming integrated means that you can communicate and collaborate simultaneously. 

This truly demonstrates Google Workspace carrying on G Suite’s hallmarks of real-time collaboration and efficiently communicating to make working easy!

Picture-in-picture video calls in Meet

Another huge update in Google Workspace is being able to see and hear your colleagues whilst working on Docs, Sheets and Slides with the extension of picture-in-picture video calls to these tools. This is another key example of collaboration and communication becoming easier, and even more efficient.

All new options for your organisation

The arrival of Google Workspace has paved the way for even more options for your paid plan. All of the current G Suite tiers still remain in place - until the end of your current deal - but if you're on a flexible plan, you will need to select a new product tier from January 2021. So if you’re wondering which tier would suit your organisation best, get in touch with the Cobry team - we’ve got you covered.


Contact us

0333 789 0102 / info@cobry.co.uk

September 17, 2020

Google Calendar: Tips to get the best out of your day

Working from home can put extra strain on trying to optimise the way you use your time. So it’s vitally important you use the tools at your disposal to ensure you’re maximising each day’s potential. Google Calendar could be the answer to your prayers, here’s some tips on how to harness its power to get the most out of your day.

Find meeting times that suit everyone.

My first of many Google Calendar tips may seem glaringly obvious, but it’s worth noting that it can actually be very difficult. People are busy with other meetings, busy with day-to-day life and that’s fine. With Calendar, the heavy lifting can be done for you. Here’s how:

Click on search for people on the left, type in the name of someone you’d like to meet with. If they’re from the same organisation as yourself, you’re able to select their name and see their calendar overlaid on yours. This increased visibility of your colleagues’ availability makes it far easier to find an open time slot, fill in the meeting details and click save.

Operating on multiple time zones? With Google Calendar, that's no problem.

With technology, the world is becoming smaller and smaller with people becoming increasingly connected. This being said, time zones still exist, complications can still happen with regards to scheduling meetings and it can become a barrier to effective communication. That’s why this tip is so useful. One of Google Calendar's great features is being able to display multiple time zones. 

It’s very simple to begin to display secondary time zones on Calendar, simply go to ‘Settings’. Scroll to Time Zone and click the box to display a secondary time zone and select the appropriate time zone. Need to add even more other time zones? Scroll to World clock and click Show world clock. By doing this, the time zones you’ve selected will show on the left side of your calendar below the month view. You are only able to display two time zones side by side on your calendar view, however you can have multiple world clocks.

This is a huge saver of time in your day, making the process of working out suitable times to arrange meetings with people over multiple time zones.

Want to make the most of your working hours? Share them with Google Calendar.

Being able to set your working hours makes setting up meetings so much easier. Not everyone has the same working hours, and it would be unfair to expect your colleagues to know your working pattern if it’s different to theirs.

With Google Calendar, users can easily add their working hours by exploring their settings section. One of the key benefits of this is that upon adding your working hours to Calendar, whenever any subsequent event invitation is sent to you, the invitee will automatically be notified if the event is outside your working pattern. This saves time, and takes any potential hassle out of creating events and allows you to focus on other parts of your working day.

Sharing is caring!

Let other users see your availability by sharing your calendar. Do this by adjusting your default settings in order to let others in your team or organisation view the full details of events on your calendar.

The benefits of this are plentiful but are best explained by looking towards a hypothetical example. 

I’m busy, in and out of meetings all day, it’s hard to divide your attention when you’re on a video call with someone. Due to this, I can’t get any free time within the parameters of my working day to do some deep work, like writing blogs. But there, in the near future on my calendar, I see it. 1.5hrs of free time. A beacon of light. I can finally churn out a blog about the benefits of Google Calendar and how it can help you make the most out of your day.

But alas, I check my inbox. I’ve been invited to a 1 hour call to workshop future hypothetical examples in my blog content during what should have been my free time. 

I can’t blame my colleague for this, they weren’t to know.

Fast forward a day and I’ve made my calendar available to be viewed by my colleagues. They’re able to see I have a slither of free time during my busy schedule and choose not to invite me to another crisis call about my lack of imagination - I am spared. They can instead look further on in my week to see a day where I’m less busy.

Give yourself breaks.

As is mentioned above, back-to-back meetings - although often necessary - can make your day more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why we strongly encourage you to leave yourself gaps between events in your Google Calendar. 

Often, when in back-to-back meetings, you either feel overwhelmed by having constant calls and no time to work independently, or you feel that the lack of respite between calls has left you unable to prepare for the forthcoming call. 

Giving yourself breathers between meetings can really allow for you to recharge, refresh and get your mind in the right place for your next meeting!


Hopefully by making use of these Google Calendar tips, you’ll be able to get the absolute most of your working day, ensuring that your workload has a nice even spread.

If you’d like to find out more about Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and how it could help make your organisation work smarter, book a discovery call!

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