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Google Workspace: better workflow and teamwork



SUMMARY


What is Google Workspace? Under this name, Google bundles a wide variety of applications that can be used via a cloud-based communication platform and create a virtual working environment. Google Workspace is a multifunctional collaboration software that is made available via a cloud. The Google Cloud allows teams to access data, digital diaries and project plans and coordinate tasks across spatial distances using an internet connection and a browser. Sharing functions as well as real-time synchronisation enable joint editing of a document.



CONTENT

  • What is Google Workspace?

  • These tools are part of Google Workspace

  • Advantages and disadvantages of Google Workspace

  • Google Workspace: Subscription models


WHAT IS GOOGLE WORKSPACE?


The complete package with file storage, word processors and communication tools is also known as Google Apps for Business. In 2016, a rebranding took place: Google combined various apps under the new name Google Workspace and expanded the series with new features. With this measure, Google competed with Microsoft. Many components of the app series resemble Office applications and Microsoft's cloud-based solution Microsoft 365. Since then, Google has offered its tools combined in a subscription model. The following services belong to the paid Google Workspace:

  • Gmail (email program)

  • Google Calendar (online planner)

  • Google Drive (cloud storage)

  • Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides and Notes

  • Google Meet (video conferencing and messenger service)

  • Google Sites (tool for creating public and internal websites)

  • Google Vault (archiving and management function)

  • App Maker (development platform)

Although many individual services such as the email program Gmail or the Google Calendar are also available to private users free of charge, they are often available as a slimmed-down version.


Other features also distinguish Google Workspace from a private Google account. For example, it is only possible to set up a corporate Gmail account and use a company email address via a Google Workspace account.


The subscription variant is aimed at small and medium-sized companies, but also at large corporations or self-employed persons. For a monthly or annual fee, you basically get an all-round carefree package. You can use the entire range without restrictions and benefit from additional management tools. The latter allow project managers, administrators and supervisors to define release options for certain files via a central dashboard and to better connect different apps with each other. In addition, telephone support is available at all times.


The Business and Premium variants grant companies almost unlimited storage space. Compatibility with software solutions from other providers has also been improved so that, for example, external archiving functions can be integrated. Those who value more data security receive additional security options. For example, a multi-level authentication procedure makes access by unauthorised persons more difficult.


With the cloud solution, Google Workspace has committed itself to the groupware idea. Whether in the home office or on a business trip: All employees work in the digital workspace regardless of time and space. In any case, the applications are optimised for mobile devices. Thanks to cloud computing, companies can outsource their IT infrastructure to the virtual cloud and at the same time access inexhaustible storage capacity. The only prerequisite is a fast internet connection because the full range of services can only be used online. Alternatively, it is possible to store data on the PC or in one's own data centre and process it offline.



THESE TOOLS ARE PART OF GOOGLE WORKSPACE


It is worth taking a closer look at the individual tools of Google Workspace. In this way, you can better assess whether the fee-based software package would make your everyday work easier and how individual apps differ from common Microsoft Office tools and other applications.


Gmail

The well-known email program is also available as a corporate variant and part of Google Workspace. After logging in, employees access their emails and see the latest status of their correspondence, regardless of the device and location from which they access it. In addition, administrators can manage accounts in one place. Unlike a private account, it is possible to use individualised addresses and place the company name in the domain. In addition, the paid version is completely free of advertising.


Other features prove to be just as practical. For example, the inbox has a chat function. Since Gmail is also connected to Google Meet as part of Google Workspace, you can alternatively make video calls, for example, to formulate important business emails together with colleagues.


Google Calendar

With a digital calendar, individual employees keep track of upcoming client meetings and deadlines and are reminded of these appointments in good time if desired. Similarly, entire teams can use a shared calendar to note regular group meetings or keep track of holidays and other absences. Instead of laboriously coordinating appointments with each individual, the tool automatically checks whether a colleague is available for a meeting at a certain time. Google Calendar is also compatible with several other online schedulers, saving you from duplicate entries.


If you want to keep the entire department or partner companies informed about important events and project processes, integrate the calendar into an intranet page created via Google Sites. To do this, those responsible can determine at any time who has access to the calendar and which details can be viewed. The room planning function also proves useful. You can integrate a plan of free meeting rooms or let the tool search for externally available conference rooms and reserve them via Google Workspace.


Google Drive

Google Drive is at the heart of Google Workspace. This cloud system gives you a central place to store all data important for collaboration, which you and your colleagues can then access regardless of location. The feature is fundamental for sharing and collaborating on data that is updated in real-time.


If you don't want to build an in-house data centre, you can basically move everything to the cloud. The storage space is almost unlimited with 1 TB per user. Only the Basic subscription limits the capacity to 30 GB. It is important to know that the data of all tools is stored on Google Drive. This means that all emails managed via Gmail are also stored there and deducted from the storage space accordingly.


Do you prefer to store important data locally and make it available offline on desktop computers? This is also possible - the data is then automatically synchronised with the cloud. Various controls also allow you to set sharing options and control access for individual employees and departments. In addition, a machine learning-based function is integrated that independently assesses which data is currently relevant and makes it visible for quick access. The storage space can also be subdivided in favour of a better overview. Those who have previously used Microsoft Office can transfer the documents to Google Drive via a plug-in without cumbersome data entry.


Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides and Notes

With these applications, Google Workspace offers a complete office package with which you can create text documents, start surveys, share spreadsheets and create slides for a customer meeting. Here, too, you enjoy the benefits of a cloud-based solution. All activated employees can work on a document at the same time. The changes are immediately visible to everyone and can also be undone. Chat functions save you from having to send large data packages back and forth and communicate change requests via comment functions. All tools can also be used in offline mode, but only via the Chrome browser.


The layout, functions and user interface are very similar to Microsoft applications. So if you are used to Microsoft Word, you and your team will hardly have any problems when switching. However, you will have to make concessions in terms of the range of services. If graphically sophisticated presentations and diverse formatting options play a major role in your field, Google Workspace definitely cannot keep up with the competing product Microsoft 365. So weigh up whether you can do without it and whether the other tools of Google Workspace outweigh this disadvantage. Since the Google range is compatible with Office applications, you can also use them in addition.


Google Docs:

This word processing program is very similar to Microsoft Word. It has all the basic tools for text formatting and page layout. However, the design options are much more limited. On the other hand, you can add some fonts and other elements via add-ons. You can easily import many third-party formats from Microsoft and Adobe or save your documents in these formats.

Google Sheets:

Make calculations, evaluate data and visualise it as a chart: This is possible with the Google Workspace spreadsheet app. Excel tables can usually be imported without any problems. Only the commands for entering formulas differ in some cases. Google Sheets has all the usual cell formulas. However, Excel is still the first choice for more complicated tables.

Google Forms:

With this tool, you can quickly create a survey or questionnaire. There are numerous ready-made elements for different question forms. You can add images and integrate the company logo to get a visually appealing form. Here, too, the advantages of a software package become apparent: the table tool evaluates answers in real-time and presents the results graphically.

Google Slides:

With this function, each employee presents his or her project results in a diagram or illustrates his or her ideas with drawings, videos or animations. With the help of various templates, this can also be done by employees who are less experienced in graphics. In terms of template diversity and design functions, however, this app cannot hold a candle to PowerPoint.

Google Notes:

Jotting down a flash of inspiration and sharing a mind map for the project kick-off without running the risk of misplacing or even losing the notepad - Google Notes allows all this. In addition, the app supports organisation: for example, you have the option of creating to-do lists and setting up reminder functions for tasks and appointments. You can highlight the notes in colour and add photos, drawings and audio files. The search function, with which notes can be filtered by colour, labels and other categories, also proves to be practical.

Google Meet

This virtual conference room saves you travel costs and valuable time. If the team is spread across different locations or some colleagues are in the home office, you can still hold meetings or have face-to-face conversations. Meet includes video conferencing, voice-only messages and text-based chats. If you integrate other Google Workspace tools, Google Calendar reminds you of upcoming meetings or easily sends invitations via Gmail. Colleagues who are cut off from the internet can connect on the move via an individual dial-in number. The connections are easy to set up.


Compared to the Microsoft service Skype, Google Meet has more features. However, users have to accept a loss in video quality.


Google Sites

Even without IT knowledge, you can set up a website in no time thanks to numerous tools. With Google Workspace, this can be done within the framework of a multifaceted networked platform and data can be integrated more quickly if necessary. Intranet pages for a clearly defined group of users are just as conceivable as publicly accessible websites. Templates for layout and user interfaces facilitate creation. This makes it easier to set up a user interface for individual projects, a notice board, customers or an event.


Google Vault

This app serves as an administration tool and makes it easy to archive files, emails and other content and store them in a legally secure manner. For this purpose, you can divide the data generated via Google Workspace into different packages, arrange them clearly and export them. It is also possible to view history logs and collect data specifically for audits. Furthermore, Google Vault is used to manage user accounts. To comply with data protection guidelines, you can define retention periods.


App Maker

With App Maker, you can create apps entirely according to your own ideas in order to have a useful application at hand that facilitates, for example, the specific distribution of tasks within departments and other work processes. The tool is designed as a low-code development platform, i.e. you develop your app using various templates without having to write time-consuming code. At the same time, it is possible to connect the app with other Google Workspace applications.



ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF GOOGLE WORKSPACE


The cloud-based Google Workspace has many advantages, but it also has its limitations. How serious the disadvantages are depends on the individual company. Depending on the business area, employee structure and corporate culture, every company needs different software solutions. Therefore, it is important to weigh up whether Google Workspace (formerly Google Apps for Business) is worthwhile and actually simplifies work processes. To help you decide, we compare the advantages and disadvantages.


Advantages of Google Workspace

The main feature of Google Workspace is the complete relocation of data storage and processing to a cloud. This distinguishes it in part from Microsoft 365, making the platform virtually predestined for location-independent teamwork and a useful collaboration tool. Companies whose employees are often away from home for customer meetings, conferences or sales tasks can stay up to date, access all data and take part in important meetings despite their physical absence.


Those who allow their employees to work in a home office also ensure that they stay up to date. The same applies to companies that are spread across different locations or have to regularly coordinate with external partners, service providers and customers. The communication platform with the cloud storage space ensures that every activated user, wherever they are, has simultaneous access, regardless of whether they are using a laptop, tablet or smartphone.


Start-ups and smaller companies in particular save resources if they do not have to install their own hardware and software; data storage and computing processes are carried out externally. This eliminates the need for a company-owned data centre and its maintenance. For this very reason, Google Workspace can also be interesting for self-employed people who often communicate directly with customers and collaborate on projects from outside. In terms of cloud-based collaboration, Google Workspace has the edge.


Compared to Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 is only a rudimentary cloud solution. While Google Workspace synchronises all editing processes in real-time, this usually only works via an intermediate step with the Microsoft counterpart, and in any case not automatically. Basically, Office saves locally first. Only when you then upload the document to the cloud storage OneDrive or activate cloud functions, can it be viewed and edited by others. Microsoft 365 therefore also offers an interface to the cloud and has groupware functions, but networking is not completely automatic.


On the other hand, those who opt for a hybrid solution and want storage on hard disk and in the data centre need not fear any disadvantages with Office in this respect. However, the collaboration component is more pronounced with Google Workspace.


Disadvantages of Google Workspace

A complete cloud solution makes you dependent. Google Workspace requires a fast internet connection in any case. Especially when using mobile devices, the model reaches its limits. However, should the connection ever be cut, many functions offer the option of switching to offline mode and synchronising files afterwards.


If you forgo local copies, these are stored solely with an external provider, in this case on Google's servers. It is true that Google employs security experts and, as a large corporation, has a correspondingly sophisticated infrastructure to prevent data loss. However, even the best system is not one hundred per cent immune to technical breakdowns, temporary server failure, data theft and hacker attacks. Google also reserves the right to block the account for certain reasons, but this is more of a worst-case scenario.


In general, as a user of Google Workspace, you also place sensitive data in the hands of the company and must trust that it is protected from unauthorised access. Because you can hardly make use of your right of control. It is also a fact that this means that your data ends up on the potentially insecure servers of a third country where generally different data protection regulations apply. Security certifications such as ISO 27001, which certifies that Google complies with international standards in IT security, are supposed to dispel concerns. Nevertheless, the NSA affair showed that secret services can gain access to data at server locations.


Moreover, Google's data protection regulations are not fully transparent. This suggests that the company wants to retain certain freedoms - after all, the processing of user data is Google's biggest business pillar. This regularly calls data protectionists to the scene.


However, it is also important to pay attention to data security in your company. A one-time login is practical, but it is not a big hurdle for hackers. If the password is hacked or accidentally falls into the wrong hands, a lot of data is accessible because it is ultimately bundled on Google Workspace. To provide more security, Google alternatively offers multi-level authentication procedures and other security features. You can also change the access data at any time via the admin account. Via mobile device management, you can secure data from mobile end devices in case one is lost. In some cases, Google Workspace also allows you to use external security tools. This applies to Gmail, for example, where you can also use your own certificates for S/MIME encryption of email correspondence.


Internally, it is also necessary to keep secrets across different departments and levels and to additionally protect particularly confidential data, especially personal data of customers and employees. To ensure this, you can, for example, set individual access rights for each user so that not everyone can view, edit and download all documents.


Google Workspace gives administrators many options. For example, they can save the chat logs of employees and manage user accounts and personal data. According to its own information, Google Workspace complies with EU data protection requirements. Nevertheless, it is advisable to have a legal expert check whether one's own use of the platform complies with the GDPR. In addition, there are companies that have agreed to their own contractual clauses with Google regarding data processing.


Several tools from a single source

A cloud-based work platform that combines various applications ensures a better workflow.


  • Better overview: Google Workspace makes it easier to coordinate all work processes and keep track of meetings, deadlines and work progress. This saves a lot of time, especially with large teams and when external people are involved. A platform that combines various coordinated applications ensures that all employees are up to date. Search functions make it possible to quickly filter out relevant information from a multitude of data stored in the cloud.

  • Simple administration: For administrators, there is a central location that does not require any additional configuration files. Since everything runs via a cloud, administrators save themselves the trouble of managing accounts and licences for several applications distributed across different servers. There are also various options for evaluating, controlling and managing access rights.

  • Ease of use: One login is sufficient to access all Google Workspace tools and documents. Real-time updates eliminate the need to subsequently update various files and share them among colleagues. Since most of the apps, such as chat and word processing functions, are similar to well-known Microsoft applications and the Gmail account is widely used, you can easily introduce Google Workspace in your own company. For the most part, it should not be necessary to train employees on how to use Google Workspace. There are also numerous options for transferring data generated via other services to the Google platform.

  • Integrate external tools: Whether for data migration or function enhancement, Google Workspace is compatible with numerous external services. These include customer relationship systems as well as accounting programs. A list of the programs that can be integrated can be found on Google Workspace Marketplace. In addition, Google Workspace is compatible with all Office applications. For example, a text created with Google Docs can easily be saved as a Word document, which could compensate for one or two disadvantages. Those who miss the range of functions of the Office applications do not have to do without them but should weigh up whether Microsoft 365 alone might be more worthwhile than a solution integrated into the Google Workspace. You can also integrate in-house developments via an interface.


GOOGLE WORKSPACE: SUBSCRIPTION MODELS


Subscribers can choose between three models. These differ in terms of the scope of services. More functions are reflected in the price. Sometimes, however, the slimmed-down version already meets the requirements. In any case, it is worth comparing the versions.


  • Google Workspace Basic: The basic version includes all important applications such as video conferencing and word processing programs. Only for administration are fewer functions available. In addition, the cloud storage space is limited to 30 GB.

  • Google Workspace Business: The advantage of this version is the almost unlimited storage space. Up to five users can each use a maximum of 1 TB. The additional features include tools for archiving and activity tracking as well as a low-code platform for developing your own apps.

  • Google Workspace Enterprise: The premium version is suitable for companies that need special functions for data security and administration. In this area, it has significantly more options than the Business version.


Google Workspace costs are somewhat lower if you opt for the annual subscription. However, this means that you commit to Google Workspace for one year. You pay the annual amount as a monthly instalment. If a team downsizes, there is no option to reduce the number of users until the annual subscription expires. This subscription model is therefore more suitable for companies with a constant number of employees. You have more leeway with the flexible subscription, where you can add or remove users as you wish and only incur fees for the current number of users. This billing model is the better choice, especially for companies with a high staff turnover. In addition, it is possible to cancel at any time.


Non-profit organisations can get free access to the platform. For educational institutions, the costs are significantly reduced. "Google Workspace for Non-Profits" and "Google Workspace for Education" are linked to several conditions.


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