After a year of epic challenges, it is a pleasure to start 2021 talking about a positive change. Anything that makes our workdays simpler and more productive is worth celebrating. You may have seen the new Google logos for its productivity and collaboration tools, but this is more than just a rebranding exercise. There are some practical changes that signify where the tech giant is heading with these flagship products.
What about my existing tools?
If you’ve already been using G Suite, you can relax. All your favourites, like Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and Chat, are still there — they’re just better integrated under the single Google Workspace umbrella. So, you can still enjoy online meetings, write reports, and design presentations just as usual.
This won’t be one of those changes where you have to relearn everything. You won’t be frantically searching menus to find where it has relocated the save or table functions. Still, there are some new features worth checking out.
The first thing you’ll notice is those redesigned logos mentioned earlier. They’ve got a lot of attention on social media, and I'll admit they took a few days to get used to. But if a bit of slick design work is the most controversial part of the change to Workspace, it means Google hasn’t made the mistake of overplaying its hand.
Instead, it has opted for the introduction of thoughtful tweaks and enhanced integration that will delight, rather than bewilder, its user base. The most important updates for most users will be the ability to create and collaborate in chat rooms, working with contacts on documents, and previewing linked sheets and slides without having to open another tab. This makes it far easier to organise increasingly busy workspaces without the usual juggling act and awkward silences.
Another neat feature is the creation of a pop-up ‘smart chip’ that appears when you @mention someone in a document. It shows contact details and suggested actions, like emailing or video calling the contact. These clever touches reflect the attention the design team has paid to the way people work. It takes a combination of insight and control to make meaningful adjustments instead of falling for the trap of change for change’s sake.
The picture-in-picture mode already available in Gmail and Chat, enabling Google Meet video catchups, will be added into other apps including Docs, Slides, and Sheets soon. This indicates the integration journey is something we should see as an ongoing process.
What about pricing?
On the whole, pricing will stay the same, but there will be more price brackets to choose from, so you may be able to find a better fit. One of the main additions is a Business Plus plan, which includes a raft of security features and mobile device management capabilities. It also comes with compliance tools like Vault, so it is worth considering, especially if you are dealing with sensitive data (who isn’t?) or have a highly mobile workforce.
Other pricing plans are designed to suit organisations according to user number and storage requirements. This could be a good prompt to review your needs and check whether another plan may suit your usage better.
New to Google productivity and collaboration tools?
Google’s investment in design and integration signals its intent to grow in the collaboration and productivity space. If Google Workspace wasn’t already on your radar, it probably should be. Now is a good time to take a fresh look at what is on offer and see whether it would be a good match for your organisation.