Our collective understanding of the workplace has shifted dramatically over the last year, and now that the remote work genie has been let out of its bottle, it’s not going back in. Over 83% of organizations plan to offer their employees flexible work options on a greater scale post-pandemic, including full-time remote work and hybrid options where employees split their time between their home office and their employer’s premises.
Google Workspace has played a vital role in helping businesses thrive in the new normal by empowering teams of all sizes to connect, create, and collaborate together—on any device, from any location. Launched in October, the integrated productivity solution continually gets better with the addition of new features and innovations that help people better manage their time and build deeper connections as the future of work continues to evolve. This month, Google announced a variety of additional innovations that address the specific challenges and opportunities of the hybrid work world. Here are 4 of the most exciting recent Google Workspace announcements we’re looking forward to:
1. Spaces: A dedicated space for teamwork and collaboration
With chat and video meetings becoming absolutely essential during the last year, Google has introduced Spaces, a place in Google Workspace that enables distributed teams to bring projects to life by connecting the right content, people, and conversations in new and powerful ways. With Spaces, Google will be evolving the Rooms experience in Google Chat, turning it into a dedicated place for organizing people, topics, and projects. Rolling out over the summer, Spaces will boast new features like:
- In-line topic threading
- Presence indicators
- Custom statuses
- Expressive reactions
- A collapsible view
Spaces will also seamlessly integrate with files and tasks, enabling teams to get more done—together.
2. Companion Mode: A way to keep everyone in the conversation during hybrid meetings
Google Workspace was designed with collaboration equity—the ability to contribute equally, regardless of location, role, experience level, language, and device preference—in mind. While fully remote teams experience meetings in much the same way, hybrid work is introducing new challenges. How can colleagues participate equally in the same conversation when some colleagues are in a conference room together while others are joining from living rooms, home offices, or a remote co-working space? Google has responded to this conundrum with Companion Mode in Google Meet. Designed to seamlessly connect colleagues in the room with their remote teammates, Companion Mode gives every meeting participant, no matter where they are, access to interactive features and controls like screen sharing, polls, in-meeting chat, hand raise, Q&A, live captions, and more.
With Companion Mode enabled on personal devices, even colleagues who are in the same meeting room get their own video tile in Meet, helping them to stay connected with their remote teammates. Companion Mode will be available on the web in September, and it will be coming to mobile soon.
In addition, to assist meeting organizers in planning hybrid meetings, invitees will be able to RSVP with their join location, indicating whether they’ll be joining in a meeting room or remotely.
In the next few months, Google will also be introducing moderation controls for hosts, enabling them to prevent the use of in-meeting chat and prohibit presenting during meetings. The new moderation controls will also give hosts full control to mute and prevent participants from unmuting.
3. New security and privacy capabilities for hybrid collaboration
To help Google Workspace customers realize the full power of trusted, cloud-native collaboration, new security and privacy capabilities like client-side encryption are being implemented to help customers strengthen protection of confidential data while addressing a range of data sovereignty and compliance needs. There will also be new security enhancements for Google Drive, including:
- Trust rules for Drive that help control how files can be shared within and outside your organization
- Drive labels that classify files and apply controls based on their sensitivity levels
- Enhanced phishing and malware protections to help safeguard against insider threats and user error
4. Google Workspace for everyone
Over the last year, Google Workspace has helped millions of businesses, nonprofits and classrooms transform how they collaborate. Now, Google is extending these innovative productivity and collaboration tools to everyone else, making Google Workspace available to anyone with a Google account. That means that everyone will now have access to the full Google Workspace experience, including Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet and more.
In addition, the introduction of Google Workspace Individual, a new subscription offering for individual small business owners, will enable entrepreneurs to get more done, show up more professionally and better serve their customers. Google Workspace Individual is based on the consumer tier of Workspace but includes additional functionality like:
- Smart booking services
- Personalized email marketing
- Professional meetings
Workspace Individual is rolling out soon to six markets, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Japan.
Thrive in the new normal with SADA
SADA’s cloud consultants and engineers are here to help you power productivity and achieve more, together. When you mobilize Google Workspace with us, we put the enterprise-class cloud productivity suite to work for you – better, faster, and more effectively, helping you make technology a catalyst for collaboration and transformation. In addition, we offer a variety of helpful resources to guide you in your cloud transformation journey including:
- #CloudQuarters, a go-to hub to empower our collective community to boldly embrace the cultural shift to remote and hybrid work
- Our new video series, 27°, that offers an opinion, or a unique angle, on a particular topic in the realm of Google Workspace
- Our Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365 eBook that explores the key differences between the two solutions
- Our Getting out of Microsoft Office readiness checklist that provides 30 considerations for your team as you plan for the transition to Google Workspace