Google has one of the most enviable company cultures of any business in the world. Aside from its tricked-out office spaces, Google is famous for its many perks and employee-driven creativity. But what makes Google a truly great place to work is its spirit of collaboration and drive for teamwork.
Over the last couple of years, Google studied the habits of 180 teams. It also carried out hundreds of interviews. The company wants to understand what makes a perfect team. It offers numerous tools to help people work better with others, so that goal isn’t surprising.
Let’s look at some of the most teamwork-inspiring Google tools and examine how they could improve your online team collaboration.
Gmail is a user-friendly email provider that offers 15 GB of storage space per account. What you might not know is it also allows for collaboration through a delegation option. Delegates can read and send email on your behalf while accessing the account.
Check out this feature by going to Settings. Then, look for the Accounts section at the top.
Find the section that says Grant access to your account. Radio buttons let you choose to show conversations as read or unread once delegates click into them.
Enter a person’s email after clicking the Add another account link. That action sends your delegate an activation link. Make sure to tell the individual to get set up within seven days.
Thanks to its color-coding abilities, Google Calendar is a great way to visually organize your busy life. You might use red to designate work obligations and reserve blue for fun stuff.
The tool also supports sharing. Make some or all of your calendars public, so people can see when you’re free.
Want to share a calendar with just one person? Click the down arrow to the right of the relevant calendar in the main list. Then choose Share this Calendar.
On the next page, look for the Share with specific people area. Then, enter the person’s email address.
You can also share calendars with any internet user. Go back to the down-arrow menu and choose Calendar Settings.
Scroll down to the Calendar Address section, then click the small green iCal button.
Copy the generated URL and send it to colleagues, friends, or other people you know. Be aware, anyone who gets the link can access the calendar.
The sharing capability of Google Calendar is fantastic for planning meetings, study sessions, or other collaborative activities. It also saves you from repeatedly telling people you’re busy. They can just look at a calendar you’ve shared with them instead.
Google Sheets is a spreadsheet app you can use with others simultaneously.
Advantages like conditional formatting and built-in formulas save time for you and collaborators. You can even see other people make edits in real time.
Want to send a notification to a collaborator in the sheet? Just right-click and select Insert comment, then type a plus sign to send a notification to the collaborator using their email address.
Because Google Sheets saves changes automatically, you won’t worry about losing work. If you need to see a list of changes and the people responsible, you can refer to the revision history.
To view the revisions history quickly, just click the note at the top of the sheet that says when the last edit was made.
Before sharing your spreadsheet, make sure every collaborator has a Google account. Then, click the Share button in the upper right.
Add the email addresses of the people you want to access the spreadsheet. Then click the pencil icon. Your last action allows for specifying whether people can view the sheet, edit it, or do both. Alternatively, you can just create a shareable link.
Choose the viewing/editing permissions when doing so and you can group message or email the link to your team.
4. Google Docs
Google Docs works perfectly for putting your head together with teammates.
Use it while writing to-do lists, brainstorming for projects or anything else that’s better with input from others.
While looking at the document, pay attention to the colorful, flag-like icons with people’s names. They tell you who’s responsible for making changes.
A collaborator can also make notes to clarify the reasons behind edits or ask questions. How do you do this?
You guessed it — follow the same steps mentioned in the Google Sheets section above. The only difference is you’ll need to highlight some text in order to place your comment in the doc.
Share a document with people via the same process used for Google Sheets. You can also use the shareable link option in the corner of the sharing box.
5. Google Keep
Think of Google Keep as a beautifully basic project management tool.
It works on Android and iOS gadgets, plus your favorite web browser. Depend on Google Keep as a place for notes, drawings, lists, pictures, and audio clips. You can even share your Keep notes with other apps on your phone.
You can also pin important notes to the top of your Keep page, set reminders for important notes, and easily export notes to Google Docs.
Start sharing by finding the Collaborator icon. It looks like a person’s head and shoulders with a plus sign to the left. From there, you can share with someone by name or type in an email.
To share notes with multiple people at once, you can create a Google Family Group for up to six Google Keep users.
To make use of this feature, however, you have to also create a Google Families account. As the Family Group creator, you can assume the Family Manager role. You can then share Google Keep material with your family group, easy peasy.
Getting ready for a group presentation? Avoid endless phone calls and emails about how to proceed, and collaborate with Google Slides instead. Select an appealing template to save design time. Make your words pop with hundreds of font possibilities.
Like Google Docs and Sheets, this collaboration facilitator allows in-the-moment editing by any authorized individual. Simply follow the now-familiar process for granting privileges and look for the blue Share button. It’s on the upper right of your screen.
Google Slides also plays nicely with Microsoft PowerPoint. You can import and edit PowerPoint slides with Google’s slide maker. It converts PowerPoint files into Google Slides, too.
Google Hangouts is a messaging app. Try it to talk to one person at a time through text or up to 150 individuals.
You can also launch a video chat with as many as 10 people. Start a new conversation by clicking the plus sign. Then, add people by name, email address, or phone number. Finally, choose whether you want a message-based conversation or a video call.
Let more people join by clicking the person icon and selecting Add People. Then, follow the same process you initially did when creating the chat.
You might also want to name the conversation, so there are no doubts about the discussion topics. Do that by selecting the gear icon at the top of the chat box to open Hangout’s settings. Then, find Hangout Name and enter something descriptive.
There are lots of other tricks you can implement to make Hangouts more usable, too.
Bonus: G Suite
G Suite is Google’s packaged solution for organizations of all types. It offers all the tools above, plus several others. Essentially, it lets you access every tool we’ve discussed in this post from one location.
The G Suite version of Google Drive has a central administration panel with data loss prevention features. It also boasts a machine-learning-powered search feature that helps people find files faster.
You can also create a Team Drive. Unlike content in a normal Drive account, the team owns the materials, rather than individuals.
That means if someone leaves, the files stay where they are so your team can continue working. Right-click on a file and go to Add Star to flag it as important, so people can find it later.
After finishing a two-week free trial, you’ll pay a monthly amount per user based on tier level. The most basic package does not include unlimited storage. The version of G Suite for teams costs $10 per month per user.
Purchase G Suite: $5-$25 per month per user based on chosen package after a two-week free trial.
What Google Tools Will You Start Using More?
Getting acquainted with these tools is simple. 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 so many professional tools available (for free!), there’s no excuse not to be an awesome team.
What collaborative tools do you wish your team used more? Tell us in the comments section below.