May 28, 2020

Google Meet – Enterprise Video Calls

With Google Meet’s current free availability, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some information on Google Meet - Google Workspace's (formerly G Suite) video conferencing solution. 

How Cobry use Google Meet

Firstly, I thought the best way I could go into more detail on Meet, would be to discuss how we at Cobry make the most of the tool. 

We’ve very much instilled a video-first culture at Cobry. Due to current circumstances and consequently the team working remotely, we’ve become increasingly dependent on Meet. Each morning at 10:30 we have a drop in call with the entire team, an informal chat about what our plans are for the day, as well as a smattering of nonsense conversations about anything, ranging from missing ping pong in the office to Wiktor’s coffee making exploits.

The regularity of the calls make working remotely far easier. It’s also a prime example of Meet’s integration with other Google Workspace (G Suite) tools. Being able to set up recurring events with Meet calls attached on Calendar is a really efficient way to reinforce a video first culture within an organisation.

Google Meet’s Tiled Layout

At a peak time, we have 9 team members on a call simultaneously, and let’s be honest - you want to see everyone you’re speaking to. Thankfully, with a recent update to Google Meet, it’s possible. Here’s a high quality meme to demonstrate:

The updated layout gives you the ability to view up to 16 participants at the same time, so theoretically, you could see everyone’s reaction to ridiculous suggestions - in this case Wiktor suggesting some scintillating social media content for your future delectation.

Google Meet’s Chat integration

Here’s a feature I’m particularly fond of. Google Workspace is notorious for integrating all tools to make your workflow as efficient as possible. I’ve already demonstrated how Meet works so well with Calendar, now it’s time for me to demonstrate the way in which it works with Chat. And by me, I mean Gordon.

Gordon gives a very brief run through of the feature on our recent Working From Home video series. The example he uses is particularly pertinent. When working from home sometimes it's just easier to talk to someone about an instant problem you face, as opposed to messaging on Google Chat or emailing. With Chat and Meet's deep integration, it's not only possible, but the default action.

Google Meet's Security

Any post about Google Meet worth its salt has to make mention of its robust security. Whilst the tool has so many great usability features as well as deep integration with other Workspace tools, it's incredibly secure. Here are 5 key security features - and I must stress there's many more.

1. No plugin or software is required to be installed when using a web browser.

2. Meeting URLs are 10 characters long, with 25 characters in the set - making it challenging to brute force attack.

3. End-to-end encryption and therefore no security loop holes.

4. External participants need to be admitted into the call by an existing participant.

5. Only meeting creators and calendar owners can mute or remove other participants.

Other Features of Google Meet

Google Meet also has some other innovative features that it's worth shining a torch on.

  • Record a meeting - hit the bottom right options button on the screen and simply click record meeting.
Google Meet Recording
  • Live stream a meeting - Follow these steps here to live stream a meet call.
Google Meet Live Stream
Google Meet Add Ons
  • Closed captions - Google's innovative machine learning is able to identify what you're saying, and portray that in closed captions on a meet call.
Google Meet Captions

There are even more innovative Google Meet features, which are expertly covered through Rowan's video which was part of our Working From Home video series.

Google Meet Hardware

Another way you can enhance Google Meet's innovative features, is by using Google Meet Hardware. This hardware allows for a streamlined videoconferencing experience, fitting any room of any size. Not only this, it's incredibly easy to set up.

Find out more about Google Meet Hardware here.

Overall, this blog post should give you an insight into how we at Cobry have made the most out of Google Meet and also a demonstration of some of its key features.


Interested in taking advantage of Google Meet's enterprise video calling capabilities? Book a discovery call to begin your journey


Contact

If your organisation is looking to revolutionise their internal communications and make the move towards Google Meet with Workspace, we’d love to help.

info@cobry.co.uk / 0333 789 01 02

March 24, 2020

8 Top Tips to Enhance Video Calls

We’re all busy people and sometimes committing to being in the office for your entire working day is difficult. Maybe you need to pick your kids up from school (or look after them while they're off) or you need to let the plumber in. We all have lives at the end of the day, sometimes these things happen.

Thankfully, we now live in an age where technology can solve these problems. Video calls have become a really useful tool to keep you in the office loop, stay on track with meetings and be able to discuss the matters of the day when an email or chat message doesn’t quite cut it. That being said, video calls from off premise has its perils; poor lighting, noisy surroundings or distractions can all dilute its undoubted benefits. So, to negate these potential risks we’ve done our due diligence and compiled a list of top tips for you to make the most of your videoconferencing experience.

1. Make it frequent

Video calls shouldn’t just be a rigid and scheduled thing. Why should it be taboo to just video call someone if you’re in an email conversation that’s reached its 50th reply and the message you’re trying to get across becomes convoluted? You can instantly set up a meeting for people inside and outside of your organisation to join. Hangouts Meet creates international dial-in codes so people can call on the phone from anywhere, and you can invite people via a Calendar event, by email or by phone.

2. Choose the right environment

Video calls are a good way to make conversation remain personal when out of the office. Part of that process involves letting the people you’re communicating with connect with you. A key part of that is by taking away any distractions the environment you’re operating in could cause. The pivotal elements of that include background noise, lighting and backdrop. So, when you’re next doing a call, go somewhere quiet and well lit which has a plain wall behind you so that you can be absolutely certain you’re getting your message across in the call.

3. Invite the right people

Once I’ve worked out where I’m going to be for the call, I need to start thinking about who I should get involved in the meeting. In a lot of cases, less is more as far as videoconferencing is concerned. It’s like being at a crowded meeting room, sometimes you can’t get your point across when there’s too many people speaking. Video calls are no different, make sure you are inviting the most important and relevant people for the purpose of the meeting. If you do this, you’ll get to block out the noise and concentrate on the key points.

4. Make the purpose clear

So you’ve worked out where you’re going to get the best of your call for yourself and you’ve chosen the participants. Now it’s time to think about what you want to gain from the call. It can be really helpful to make it clear what the purpose of your call is in order to make sure the other participants are prepared - as well as making sure you all make the most out of your time. It’s really useful doing this, you can get the point of the meeting across, and it also allows you to have a second think about who the relevant participants of the meeting are. This could be done by including a description in the event with a quick heads up about the topics you’ll be discussing or alternatively by attaching an agenda so your colleagues can prepare for the call. 

5. Change your screen layout to help read the room

Now you’re on the call, it’s time to focus on ways to get the best out of it. Hangouts Meet is brilliant for its versatility, allowing you to change the layout of your screen. Let’s say someone in the call is presenting which has sparked a lively discussion in the office. You can switch the focus of your screen to the people instead of the presentation. This means you can always take the most important information out of your meeting.

6. Struggling to hear? Use captions

I can personally say that in a loud place headphones don’t always do the job of cancelling out noise. Through no fault of my own, I’ve overheard numerous conversations in a coffee shop whilst trying to concentrate on work which has distracted me terribly (see point 2 to realise why I’m a fool). Hangouts Meet has the capability to create live captions in real time, similar to subtitles you’d see on TV. This means you don’t need to be overly concerned if you can't quite hear the person you’re on a call with.

7. If you’re presenting, only share what you need to

If you’re struggling with explaining what you can see on your own screen in front of you, then sharing your screen is the tool to negate that problem. It does however have its perils. Picture the scene, you’re on a call and sharing your screen and you’ve had a quick look at your inbox. You forgot you were sharing your screen at the time. Everyone in the call has seen your emails. Thankfully, you can share just the one window instead of the entire screen, saving you from letting people see what they don’t need to.

8. Be yourself

As alluded to previously, the reason you’re on the call in the first place may be because in some cases life simply gets in the way of getting into the office. If the culture of your workplace accepts it, there’s nothing wrong with showing a bit of ‘real life’ on the call. An example being letting your kid wave to the camera. Showing a bit of your life can make you more relatable to your colleagues, and in turn lead to deeper connections with them. 

Video Call Summary

Hopefully, you can take advantage of the tips we’ve provided and start optimising your video conferencing experience. Always think about where you’re going to be when in the call, why you’re having it and who it should be with. After that, it’s all about using the tools at your disposal to get the absolute best out of your experience.


Remote Working Help

We at Cobry offer remote working training, so that you can start making the most of working off-premises. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if that’s something you may be interested in. Alternatively, be sure to follow our social media pages for the latest Google and cloud news, as well as the most recent news on updates to G Suite products.

info@cobry.co.uk / 0333 789 0102

March 17, 2020

7 Tips for Effective Remote Working

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in a hermetically-sealed bunker), you’ll be aware of the increased instances of Coronavirus worldwide and the demand for remote working that this has created.

We don’t want to add to the number of fear-mongering articles that are already online. However, with the increased focus on remote working as a solution to prevent the spread of the virus, we thought we’d chip in.

If you feel the need to take precautions against the virus, here are our 7 top tips on remote working.

In the UK alone, more than 1.54 million people work from home. This increase is largely due to the benefits of remote working. In fact, if your business offers remote working opportunities you can expect:

And that’s before considering the benefits gained by doing your part to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (if it comes to that). So without further ado here are our 7 top tips for working remotely: 

Working Space

To get anything done and be as productive as possible you need to feel comfortable in your surroundings. Get plenty of natural light if possible, and if not consider investing in a daylight lamp, as this will help with keeping your alert and therefore productive. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch -- spaces that are associated with leisure time -- dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work.

Ensure that you are not hunched over and that your laptop is at a good height and if possible use a second monitor to maximise your productivity. If possible consider a stand-up desk so you can switch between sitting and standing.

Dependent on your personality get storage so your desk is uncluttered and use touches such as a low maintenance plant and some personal mementoes such as a photo frame will help inspire you. Make it your own space where you can shut the door and focus.

And make sure you choose the right music to fir the task you are trying to accomplish.

If you are working remotely on a temporary basis due to isolation then you will want to keep any costs to a minimum using the kitchen table is fine especially if you will not experience to many distractions (Tip: Use headphones and play music to help keep you focused)

Desk Chair

As you will be spending some considerable time at your desk it makes sense to invest in a good, ergonomically-correct and comfortable chair. If you are comfortable you will be more effective at your work. When you're uncomfortable it's hard to stay focused and productive.

Feel free to economise on other things. You don’t have to own a desk; you can move from the dining room table to den to the patio. But see your chair as an investment, not an expense.

Use the Correct Tools 

As with the chair ensure you get the possible tools to work. This includes a laptop, noise-cancelling headphones with a decent mic (we use a Jabra headset) and a good webcam (the ones built into laptops are generally only OK at a push) alongside a good phone be it mobile or a desk version.

But don’t forget none of the above is of any use if you do not have good broadband either at home or in the local co-working space or coffee shop!

And finally chose your software of choice carefully. We believe G Suite is the best for collaboration and fits in perfectly with a remote workers scenario as within its portfolio is Meet, Chat and Voice alongside its granular document sharing capabilities.

Plan Your Day & Create a Routine

Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15 to 20 minute break so we can recharge and get ready to achieve high performance on our next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking about an 8-, 6-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four tasks you will get done a lot more efficiently.

It might help to create a morning and nighttime routine.

The first thing you do in the morning is the most important thing you will do that day because it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

So prepare for that first thing the night before.

Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground running for the next day.

Communicate!

Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off the larger operation happening in the office. 

Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools (as mentioned under tools) can make it easy to check in with coworkers and remind you how your work is contributing to the big picture.

Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Overcommunicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself.

Exercise & Eat

Get up and move around every so often. If you are so inclined even go for a jog, whatever works for you but make sure you take a break from the screen.

Ensure that you drink water and eat healthily and at regular times as you would if you were based in an office.

See remote working as an advantage

The flexibility that working from home or remotely gives you means no lost time commuting, easy for you to get work done at odd hours -- hours you choose to work.

On your terms.

Contact

If you would like more information on how to set up your business for remote working with G Suite, please don't hesitate to get in touch, we would be delighted to have a chat about how we can help you transition to G Suite and make the most of the cloud.

info@cobry.co.uk / 0333 789 0102

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