For years now, the way we work has been rapidly digitised and distributed. Some have been at the forefront of this trend. However for many, the onset of Covid-19 accelerated this change and organisations everywhere have found themselves facing barriers with on-premise legacy technology as they tried to embrace this new norm.
At Cobry, we have always encouraged people to work in new, modern ways and push boundaries. As Google Cloud partners, all of our work takes place on Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) - Google’s business productivity platform. Luckily for us and our clients, Google Workspace equipped us with the tools to truly prosper in a work from home setting. This meant that as we had to part ways with our bonnie office in Glasgow almost a year ago, our transition to working from home was pretty seamless.
We have reflected on our use of Google Workspace as a distributed team over the past year and have shared some tips on how your organisation can implement these tools to succeed from any location. We hope that if you are already on Workspace then this article will provide you with ways to enhance your use of the tools; and if Workspace is new to you, then you gain some insight into how great the platform truly is. First though, for those who fall into the latter category let's discuss what exactly Google Workspace is.
What is Google Workspace?
Google Workspace is a cloud based IT system built specifically for business. Its core apps provide you with everything you need to get anything done all in one place. These include Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chat and Meet, to name a few. All of which are designed to foster communication, collaboration and productivity no matter where you are.
Google Workspace rebranded itself from G Suite in late 2020 to reflect the transformation that was happening in organisations all over the world. For many, work is no longer a physical place we go to and valuable interactions with colleagues are now largely happening online. Google’s vision (through Google Workspace) was to create a highly integrated platform that allows people to spend time on what really matters and foster human connections no matter their location. With consistent updates and additions to their core features, it is clear that Google is succeeding in its mission to solve the unique needs and challenges of a broad range of customers.
Google Workspace - Simple, Secure, Flexible
Security has never been more important as our world of work becomes ever more digitised. Unfortunately, this want for security oftentimes has resulted in tools becoming unusable and inflexible. On Google Workspace, however, this is not the case. Google is constantly innovating in order to deliver top level security features that help you create flexible and bespoke Workspaces.
No matter your organisation's device strategy, Google Workspace provides a world of quick and easy security wins that ensure your data will always be safe and secure. For example, Google Workspace operates on a Chrome browser-first approach, meaning that all work is carried out on the browser. As a result of this, there is no need to download tools or data onto your local device. This, in turn, eradicates the possibility of downloading viruses onto the device. Moreover, Google Chrome’s sandboxing technique will protect your organisation’s data online. This is a technique in which each tab operates in a restricted, isolated environment. Therefore, if a tab is exposed to malware, the other tabs and the rest of the machine won’t be affected.
And this is just one example. Through the Admin Console, there are quite literally hundreds of security settings that you can customise in order to suit your unique business needs. No business is the same, and Google recognises the importance of providing security features that mould to your organisation and use of the tools, not the other way around as is quite often the case.
So, that's Google Workspace in a nutshell. We've made our case for why we believe it to be a secure and flexible workspace platform that enables effective communication and collaboration - irrespective of device or location. But don't just take our word for it, let us prove it too. Read on to discover just some of the Google Workspace features that make it such an amazing platform.
Cobry’s Top 5 Workspace Tips
1. Structure your day with Google Calendar
Setting daily routines creates structure, increases productivity and helps you reach your goals. Although that is easier said than done, especially when we’re mid pandemic and so far away from what was normal only a few months ago. Google Calendar has some great features that will help you structure your day and work better with your colleagues.
Within Google Calendars settings, you have the option to specify your working pattern. This includes setting start and finish times as well as days. By setting your working hours, your colleagues will be able to see the days and times that you work, and will know not to book meetings or events with you during these times. Therefore, when you are off duty, you can dedicate your full time to relaxing and doing the things you love.
If you have colleagues dispersed over different countries, this is a super handy feature for you. In your calendar, you can display a primary and secondary time zone, as well as up to 5 world clocks. This means you can quickly and easily check your colleagues’ local time and plan meetings or catch ups accordingly.
2. Collaborate in real-time with Docs, Sheets and Slides
Each of Google’s productivity apps provides the opportunity to collaborate and communicate with your teammates quickly and effectively. Using the comments feature in each of these apps, you can discuss the work at hand and assign tasks to one another without ever leaving that tab.
Additionally, suggesting mode allows you to edit pieces of work without changing the original content. Your suggestions will appear in green text alongside the original content and will automatically appear as a comment. This allows you to work through edits as a team and provokes discussion which will result in high quality work.
3. Work synchronously with Google Meet
Despite working in what is becoming an increasingly digital and dispersed world, there really is no substitute for face-to-face communication. Google Meet is a video conferencing solution which gives you the opportunity to work and communicate with your colleagues at the same time. Meet is great for initiating projects, working collaboratively and having valuable discussions.
Additionally, Google Meet offers a range of tools and features to enhance your video experience. For example, you can enable captions in a variety of languages to ensure that everyone on the call can keep up with discussion, as well as audience tools such as polls and Q&A which heighten engagement.
4. Chat with Google Chat
Unfortunately, for just now, stretching across the desk to ask a quick question or spontaneous discussion in the office isn't possible. Instead, communication with your colleagues is now a much more deliberate and thoughtful process conducted through email or video calls as just discussed. These tend to be clunky and time consuming processes with long response times - not always the best conditions for inspiration.
This is where Google Chat comes in. Google chat is an instant messaging service which provides the potential for informal and spontaneous communication. You can chat to an individual, create group chats or even use rooms to communicate and collaborate with larger teams or in departments. At Cobry, we find using chat is the best way to facilitate quick and off the cuff discussion - some of which, we must admit, is not entirely work related.
What’s more, if these conversations quickly spiral and provoke creativity and inspiration, which is often the case at Cobry, you can start a Google Meet call from chat
5. Stay social with the tools
It’s not all work here at Cobry! We are a close knit group and whilst we miss our epic ping pong battles in the office, we have ensured that our shenanigans somewhat continue in the virtual world.
Each Monday and Thursday morning we jump on a Google Meet call and spend 30 minutes catching up with the rest of the team. During this half hour discussing work is forbidden and patter (Scottish for banter) is mandatory! This is a great way to keep in touch with everyone and get some valuable social time.
So, by reading this, we hope that we’ve managed to impart some of the things we love about Google Workspace upon you. At Cobry, we have spent over a decade experiencing and working with all of the amazing features of Google Workspace. The platform and its tools elevates our working lives and has been the solid foundation on which each and every member of our team has been able to prosper whilst working from home.
If you’d like to learn more about Google Workspace and how we can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.