Whenever a workforce expert is asked for the best example of team collaboration, they inevitably point to Google and G Suite. The tech giant practically wrote the book on team collaboration thanks to its Project Aristotle experiment, which saw them study 180 Google teams, conduct 200-plus interviews and analyze over 250 different team attributes in order to codify the secrets to effective teams.
Dependability: team members get things done on time and meet expectations
Structure and clarity: high-performing teams have clear goals and well-defined roles
Meaning: the work has personal significance to each team member
Impact: the group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good
Psychological safety: the culture encourages everyone to take risks, voice their opinions and ask judgement-free questions.
These characteristics don’t happen by accident; they are positively fostered by providing those teams with the right tools to communicate and work effectively. It’s all about team collaboration and strong communication, and Google’s G Suite for Business, the Google collaboration software has been built specifically to enable collaboration and improved productivity, no matter the size of business.
“Since our shift to G Suite and the Google collaboration software, we have seen cohesion, flexibility, and efficiency within the team rise exponentially. We spend less time on maintenance, storage management, data recovery and upgrading software,” writes London-based digital agency Bright Lemon as it extols the virtues of Google’s collaboration apps.
Bearing in mind collaboration is not just about working with people, but also about using modern technology to unite teams from different locations and time zones, here are five ways Google team collaboration and a G Suite intranet can improve productivity for your business, no matter how large or small your operations are.
If you’re not already working in the cloud, chances are your work life is dominated by email – emails telling you about meetings, emails talking about project statuses, emails about wins and losses. Then there’s the emails with attachments that have also been emailed to 10 other people and you’re all meant to make amendments individually so that someone else can collate them later and produce a new document - let’s call it v2.17 - that will then need to be reviewed again. (Phew!)
Even if you have a strong culture of version control, email is not the best way to collaborate; Google’s collaboration software, the apps for business were developed in response to this mountain of paperwork. The real strength of the G Suite for lies in its real-time collaboration possibilities. Multiple team members can work on the same document at the same time, with each individual’s efforts highlighted in a different colour for ease of use. You can also revert back to any previous version of the document with a simple click.
The ability to get instant feedback on ideas and projects can be a godsend for productivity, saving those countless emails and development meetings, while making everything trackable and searchable because it’s all stored in the Google cloud.
Apps to try: Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides
Improving productivity isn’t just about getting your people to collaborate more effectively; you also need to ensure any systems and tools you’re using, whether across the board or by a specific team only, can talk effectively to each other.
So while email is a grandpa in tech terms, inevitably slowing down the rest of the team, instant messaging can be a jolt of caffeine in the arm. Only 38% of the average inbox contains relevant emails, with the rest just noise; integrating a platform like Slack into your G Suite for Business can get quicker answers and cut out the noise while remaining a searchable database. Ditching the good ol’ spreadsheet and Gantt chart for project management in favour of a tool like Asana can ensure parties receive alerts and notifications when things are moving or deadlines are looming, helping them to jump quicker into the next phase.
And a G Suite intranet can help to tie together all the different platforms into one easily accessible portal, while adding the usual intranet features like news, an ESN and organizational charts, while making it all incredibly mobile.
Apps to try: Slack for instant messaging, Asana for project management, Happeo for a G Suite intranet
User-friendly and intuitive
In an era driven by connectivity impatience, where we expect to find everything at a single click and where we’re easily frustrated by clunky user interfaces, the old ugly-but-it-will-do software of the past is not going to get your workforce excited to collaborate. You want your workforce to engage with the systems and tools you’re providing, and for that to happen you need to make sure those systems and tools are both user-friendly and intuitive – that is, they are simple to use, easy to get around, and easy to identify the right route to complete the task at hand.
“Getting acquainted with these tools is simple,” writes Kayla Matthews for MakeUseOf.com, discussing Google team collaboration tools. “That’s because the process for carrying out certain tasks (such as sharing documents) is identical across apps. Also, although you now have the necessary mobile app links, all the tools work in web browsers. Most even allow you to keep working alone or with others, even without an internet connection.”
With G Suite for Business, you can schedule a meeting or start a video call right from your email; with a G Suite intranet like Happeo’s you can build a simple-to-navigate organizational chart or easily-searchable databases that put the power of information in your employees’ hands. G Suite for Business has an entire marketplace for integrations aimed at improving productivity and collaboration in the workplace; the only limit is your imagination.
Apps to try: Happeo for a G Suite intranet, Google Hangouts
Backing up to the cloud
All those hours wasted searching for the right document in SharePoint only to find no one filled out the metadata properly and you’ve been working on an old version for the last week? Yeah, those days are long gone.
Quoting a study by TrackVia, Marcus Johnson writes for Instapage that companies believe using cloud storage positively impacts their effectiveness, with 47% saying the cloud makes them more productive and 40% saying it makes them more flexible.
Google Drive is a cloud-based team shared drive that anyone can get to from anywhere at any time on any device – no more excuses about not having access when away from the office. Working as any shared drive could and should - shared folders you can divide according to projects, teams or clients, and with the ability to restrict access to select individuals - Google Drive is backed up with the power of the Google search algorithm, meaning it’s easier than ever to find the right document at the right time. Plus, it’s a team drive which means if Jake leaves the development team, his documents won’t disappear when his profile does.
Apps to try: Google Drive, Google cloud search
The security of Google log-ins
So you’ve been pretty convinced about team collaboration for a while and have installed all manner of tools, both desktop and cloud-based, to make your employees’ lives easier. But each of those tools comes with its own log-in details, and that means either a post-it note or document somewhere with a list of passwords, or it means the same password being used for everything, both of which bring their own security breach potential. What happens if Deborah in HR uses the same password for the employee management system as for Trello, and Trello gets hacked and her password is posted somewhere on the Dark Net?
One of the big advantages to using Google collaboration tools is the ability to use your single Google login across all tools and apps. This not only helps the security manager to breathe a sigh of relief, it also saves time and increases productivity as it eliminates the need to log in to multiple systems.
Let’s not forget to add this: single sign-on and Google logins are second nature to younger workers, who have grown up in a world that can switch between websites quickly without needing to login separately. And heck, your Boomer workers are hardly going to complain about not having to remember 50 different system passwords!
Apps to try: G Suite for Business, Google Admin Panel
Supercharge your productivity with Google team collaboration
Not only is Google team collaboration built on the premise that working together is always better and more efficient, but Millennials and Gen Z are also incredibly familiar with the G Suite given its prevalence in education systems. Given those younger generations make up a large proportion of the modern workforce, it makes sense to opt for systems they know and love rather than shoehorn them into more traditional corporate software just because you’ve always done it that way.
Only 25% of the typical employee’s workday is spent working alone, but real team collaboration it’s not just about giving your people access to tools and sending them on their way; you need to make sure they understand how to collaborate within the G Suite for business ecosystem to get the digital workplace operating effectively. Google collaboration software can maximize productivity and make processes and status reports much more transparent than email alone, but your workforce will need training and guidance to get there.
Consider establishing a Channel within your G Suite intranet where employees can share tips and tricks to help colleagues get the most from Google collaboration tools and improve productivity. Technology isn’t there to confuse or make life harder, but it does need guidance to fit into your business’s unique culture.