Virtual meetings, remote collaboration, flexible hours: it’s becoming clear that these new ways of working are here to stay. In my conversations with customers and business leaders since the onset of COVID-19, I’ve seen workplace transformation go from an almost theoretical long-term goal to an urgent priority. Employers and workers want more flexible ways of working, and delivering on this requires the right technology.
But flexibility isn’t the only thing that workers want. Remote working has significantly increased the demands we’re getting from many directions—in both our professional and our personal lives. People tell us they feel overloaded with too much information and too many tasks across too many different tools. Instead of learning another tool, we need the tools we already use to be even more helpful, and work together, in an integrated, intuitive way.
That’s why today, we’re introducing a better home for work. G Suite now intelligently brings together the people, content, and tasks you need to make the most of your time. We’re integrating core tools like video, chat, email, files, and tasks, and making them better together, so that you can more easily stay on top of things, from anywhere.
Customers like Colgate-Palmolive and ATB Financial, who’ve previewed the new product experience, are giving us great feedback about this integrated workspace. Gene Molloy, VP IT End User Technology at Iron Mountain, said it “seamlessly brings together the best of G Suite to make us more efficient with less context switching, allowing us to focus on the task at hand with fewer distractions.”
Bringing things together
As we looked at ways to deepen the integration between email, chat, and video—three core pillars of communication—we started where most of us begin our workday: our inbox. To easily join video meetings straight from your inbox, we brought Meet into Gmail on the web, Android, and iOS—and made it free for everyone. And last month, we brought Google Chat into Gmail on web to help you communicate more seamlessly, without the disruption of switching tabs. Soon, Chat will join Gmail on Android and iOS, making it even easier to do more from one place, wherever you are.
We’re also enhancing the collaboration features in Chat rooms by adding shared files and tasks, making rooms an even better solution for longer-term projects. With quick access to shared chat, important documents, and to-dos in one place, it’s easier for everyone in a group to stay on the same page. Plus, Chat lets you create rooms that include people outside your company, like contractors or consultants, so your group can be not only cross-functional but also cross-organizational.
To make rooms even more useful, we’ve infused them with real-time collaboration by adding the ability to open and co-edit a document with your team without leaving Gmail. This makes it easier for you to collaborate directly within the context of where you’re doing your work in the moment—so, for example, you can chat about the changes you’re making to a document in real time, or assign a new task (or mark one complete!), without switching between screens.
This new integrated workspace also makes it easy to access your favorite third-party apps, including DocuSign, Salesforce, and Trello, so you can get updates and take action within any kind of conversation—across Gmail, Chat, and rooms.
Making things better together
One thing we’ve heard again and again from our users is how switching between apps interrupts their flow—and their focus. That’s why in this new integrated experience, we’ve been thoughtful about how to help you work more fluidly.
A few examples: you can quickly join a video call from a chat, forward a chat message to your inbox, create a task from a chat message—everything connects together in a way that makes it easy for you to manage the flow of your work and get more done.
Next, because quickly finding what you need is paramount to productivity, we’ve also expanded Gmail’s powerful search capability to include Chat, so it’s easier to find everything in one place.
And lastly, we’re introducing several tools to help you prioritize and stay focused. You can now:
- Pin important rooms so they’re easier to find and access
- Set your availability to “Do Not Disturb”
- Better protect your time with status notices like “Out of office”
If you’d like to try this new integrated workspace out yourself, you can sign up here. We’ll be expanding availability to more customers over the following weeks, and you’ll be notified when it’s ready for you to try.
Enhanced security for Meet and Chat
For flexible work models to succeed, organizations must continue to maintain security and compliance for their users and data. More than 6 million businesses trust and rely on G Suite to protect their most sensitive data. Today, we’re also announcing several new security features for Meet and Chat.
In the coming weeks, we will be rolling out new security capabilities for Google Meet that give hosts even more control over meetings, such as who can join or collaborate within them. Starting with consumer and G Suite for Education customers, these features will include:
- Knocking controls: Once an attendee is ejected, they won’t be able to attempt to join the same meeting again by knocking, unless the host re-invites them.
- Safety locks: Hosts can now decide which attendees can chat or present in the meeting.
In addition, we’ll be extending the strong phishing protections that we’ve built within Gmail to Google Chat. For example, if a user clicks on a link in Chat, it will be scanned in real-time and flagged if it’s found to contain malicious content. Get all the details about the latest G Suite security features here.
More on the way
Communication and collaboration are about connecting people, and we’re always looking for ways to better integrate our products to help everyone work better, together. Some of the recent improvements we’ve rolled out include letting you respond to document comments or action items directly from your inbox on mobile, helping you connect and analyze data across the organization with Connected Sheets, and introducing new collaboration capabilities in our hardware offerings. (You can learn more about these and other new features in our sessions at Google Cloud Next ’20: OnAir.)
In the future, you’ll see our integrated workspace expand even further—with features like picture-in-picture video calls right in Gmail; the integration of Google Meet into our content tools like Docs, Sheets, and Slides; and more. Our goal is to provide an intelligent and seamless solution that gives everyone the ability to make a real impact, and the flexibility to work exactly where and how they want.
Looking ahead, I’m excited to help more companies make the transition to flexible work with G Suite. I still remember my first few weeks at Google—how amazed I was that Smart Compose effortlessly completed my sentences, even as I switched between English and Spanish; or that Slides not only enabled, but suggested that I present directly from my phone to a meeting (and it worked!). The features that once surprised and delighted me have now become table-stakes capabilities I can’t live without. Work is more seamless, flexible, and productive than I could’ve imagined. And that’s the way it should be for everyone.