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Google’s take on what’s needed to thrive in a hybrid environment

Google Product Manager sat down with Copper's CEO to share their 2022 Google Workspace roadmap

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Author photo: Christina Scannapiego

Christina Scannapiego

Director, Content Marketing

In our latest customer survey, we found that over 40% of our subscribers and customers are looking at sticking with a hybrid environment moving forward.

So, a couple of weeks ago, at our Q4 Coffee with Copper webinar, we sat down with Ramesh Nair, a product manager at Google, to talk about how Google Workspace is facilitating hybrid work with their new and upcoming features.

At Google, they’re focused on creating collaboration equity, which Ramesh defines as: “the ability to contribute equally, regardless of where you are, your role, your experience level, your language, your device preference or your time zone.” He adds that the nature of their products, in turn, reflect the new philosophy. (Catch our blog on understanding collaboration equity here).

Whether you’re working in the office, at home or a mixture of the two — Google Workspace’s primary goal is to make sure collaboration is simple for the entire team.

Here are some of the new and exciting ways they’re doing that.

Taking control of the calendar

In a hybrid work environment, our Google Calendars have become a crucial way to manage our time and stay connected. These new features help us do that even better.

The Time Insights feature

Meetings seem to galvanize a lot of time these days, and Google Workspace’s new Time Insights feature aims to help cut through the clutter to help you figure out how your time is spent across meetings and collaborators.

Time Insights breaks down one-time meetings and recurring meetings to show you exactly how much of your life you spend in meetings every day and on average. The insight into how you spend your time can help you organize your week and ultimately become more efficient.

Plus, this feature illustrates your “focus time,” so you get a real look at how much time you’re able to actually sit down productively with your work in a given week. If it isn’t enough, you can schedule in focus time to help you work more intentionally.

The Working Location feature

Another way Google Workspace has optimized Calendar for hybrid work is via the Working Location feature. Now, you can set your work location to “office” or “home” so everyone can see where everyone’s working from on any given day.

Ramesh talked about his personal experience using this feature. “I just went to the office recently, and I realized I was booking a [virtual] meeting with someone, and I realized they would also be in the same office with me. So, I changed that meeting to a coffee because, you know, we’re in person. Why not meet in person, right?”

This feature allows hybrid teams to hold more meaningful and productive meetings by making it easy to coordinate tasks with hybrid teams and helps set expectations for everyone.

Copper’s Calendar Integration

Keeping control of your calendar doesn’t just apply to internal meetings, though. Copper recently launched a Google Calendar integration so you can rein your external meetings into your organizational view.

This feature helps to contextualize your meetings by allowing you to look up event details, participants and materials directly from Google Calendar. With one click, you can also add new contacts to Copper without ever having to leave Google Calendar.

Bridging the gap in meetings

When everyone’s in-person or digital, it’s the same experience for all. But conducting meetings with a mixture of both can be challenging to manage.

Here’s how to take Google Meet to the next level and bridge that divide.

Improved hardware options

Many of Google’s offerings relate to their productivity suite software, but they also offer a bit of hardware to help create greater collaboration equity. Ramesh spoke about the following hardware options:

  • Series One Board 65 – This is a 65-inch, 4K display with a camera, audio and touch screen, which allows users in the room and digitally to see and collaborate on a “whiteboard” in real time.
  • Series One Room Kits – This option fits on a desk, and it’s perfect for 1-4 people. It has all the same features as the One Board 65, but it’s smaller. This works well for hybrid and fully remote teams as well.
  • Rayz Rally Pro – This device is ideal for workers whose primary device is their cell phone. It helps magnify the audio experience to help ensure the person working from their phone has the same opportunity to hear and participate in meetings as everyone in person.

Companion Mode

This new feature is a fascinating one. “It’s an interesting twist on collaboration equity,” Ramesh said. “We realized that when you’re in the office, you actually don’t have access to a lot of the features you have working virtually.”

After optimizing virtual meetings, Google realized that in-person meetings now lack many features we’ve all become accustomed to over the last couple of years. For example, features like raising your hand, sharing your screen, ongoing chat and more aren’t actually a part of in-person meetings.

So, Companion Mode allows you to use your laptop in an in-person meeting and get access to all the virtual chat features. You don’t join in with audio or video, but you’re still able to connect in the ways you’re able to in a virtual meeting.

Language settings

This feature is in beta mode now, but it makes working in a global environment easier. It allows you to have audio translated in real time to the language of your choice, so people from all over the world can collaborate in Google Meet and easily understand each other.

Improving internal collaboration

One of hybrid work’s biggest hurdles is keeping your internal collaboration and communication streamlined. Google Chat and Spaces help to make online collaboration easier.

Google Chat and Spaces

Google Spaces allows teams (big or small) to share a Google chat channel. There, they can chat about ongoing issues and collaborate on Docs, Drive, Calendar and more. They can also assign tasks and keep track of it all within the Space.

Google Spaces keeps a searchable history of that team’s chat, so it’s easy to reference past discussions or add a new team member to the space. A new feature they’re working on now is the ability to thread these conversations.

Threading allows users to make a comment and create a separate, threaded discussion around that topic beneath the comment without interrupting the main discussion, so it’s easy to have small chats inside of the larger conversation.

Ramesh said that Spaces is great for supporting asynchronous workflows too because, “You can leave a comment for someone who might be in a different time zone, and they can respond when they’re able to get to it.”

Google Spaces is a great way to simplify internal collaboration in digital or hybrid environments.

Collaboration with Copper

Copper was built to integrate seamlessly with a Google-based, collaborative workflow, with features like the ability to @mention colleagues in Copper, assign tasks, and easily create context in your Gmail using our new spotlight feature. Copper works with Google Workspace to help internal collaboration flourish.

Copper provides the type of flexibility necessary for hybrid teams. Users can decide if they want to just work in Gmail or just in Copper because you can do everything you need to do from both places.

It really allows each person to choose a workflow that fits their preferences.

The future of collaboration

Google is always thinking ahead to improve the collaboration experience. This is evident in their projects like Project Starline, which allows users to look through glass and see a realistic, 3D version of the person they’re talking to versus a static 2D image on a screen.

While Project Starline is still in development, it illustrates Google’s ongoing commitment to enhancing collaboration and communication as we move forward in our new, more hybrid reality.

After our conversation with Ramesh, one thing is clear: With Google Workspace’s new features and continual development and Copper CRM, you’re well-prepped to handle the challenges of a hybrid working environment.

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