How Google Workspace Ups Your WFH Game

Tools to focus and connect

Key Takeaways

  • Google has unveiled new features for its Workspace software designed for mobile workers. 
  • The upgrade includes tools for categorizing your focus time in Google Calendar and Chat, enhanced ways to join Google Meet, and a version of its office suite. 
  • Google is tossing in a way to track how much time you’re spending in meetings every week. 
The people working remotely, from a kitchen table at home.
Andrew Neel / Unsplash

Google Workspace’s new features can help you work more efficiently when you are away from the office, experts say. 

Nifty enhancements for Google Workspace include tools for categorizing your focus time in Google Calendar and Chat, and enhanced ways to join Google Meet. The overhaul is intended to make Workspace, a collection of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, better suited for remote workers. 

"One of the most significant updates to Google Workspace is the 'one-click' access to Google meetings via third party hardware and apps," Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, an employee-bonding firm that works with companies including Apple, Amazon, and Google, said in an email interview.

"For example, you could provide one-click access to clients that use another calendar system or internal departments that are on another system."

Set Your Time Zone

One key new feature in Workspace for mobile workers is the ability to set your statuses, such as out of office and working hours. You can create an event called "Focus Time," which limits the notifications you will get.

You also can set your location, so co-workers might know when you are available in your time zone. Services like Gmail and Chat will know your status and location, and adjust notifications accordingly. 

Getting all your messaging and productivity apps in one place could help mobile workers. 

“When you are working remotely, the most important things you need are great video-call software, good document-writing software, calendar, and presentation-making software..."

"On average, businesses currently use between 5-6 different communications technologies, and they often don’t integrate with each other," Peter Tsai, a tech expert at Spiceworks Ziff Davis, said in an email interview.

"We might use Gmail for lengthier communications, jump over to Slack for a group text chat, but then hop over to Zoom for a video conversation, and then use a separate telephony product altogether." 

Google is tossing in a way to track how much time you’re spending in meetings every week. The "Time Insights" breakdown only will be available to the individual user and not your boss. 

Same Meeting, Many Screens

Another cool and possibly convenient feature will be "second-screen experiences" for Google Meet. This lets people log in to a meeting from multiple devices, so you can share screens without the session taking up your whole laptop.

For example, you could join a discussion on your phone, but still display a presentation from your laptop. 

The Meet video calling app is getting some new features, including polls, Q&As, and live captions. Other new features include a mobile tile view, so that you can see more people at the same time on smaller displays. There also is now support on mobiles for split-screen and picture-in-picture. 

The new Workspace features arrive on top of two new Calendar updates to help workers juggle personal and professional commitments.

Segmentable working hours lets users split working hours into multiple segments throughout the day. The calendar also is getting recurring out-of-office entries to help users communicate when they're out of the office, without creating a new entry each time.

"When you are working remotely, the most important things you need are a great video-call software, good document-writing software, calendar, and presentation-making software, and Workspace has all these things," tech enthusiast Naman Bansal said in an email interview.

If you don’t want to sign up with Google, one of the best alternatives is Zoho Office Suite, Reuben Yonatan, the founder and CEO of video conferencing comparison site GetVoIP, said in an email interview.

"Zoho offers unified communication and workplace collaboration with apps such as a word processor, spreadsheets, online meetings, and a social intranet," he added. 

Bansal touted Microsoft Office 365, calling it "a complete alternative from Microsoft."

But Christian Newman, director of Rise Digital, said in an email interview that Workspace beats Office because it’s cloud-native, "meaning remote-friendly features deployed faster and integrated more deeply with one another."

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