Google is rolling out new capabilities to Google Workspace designed to help organizations cater to more flexible styles of working, alongside a new service offering aimed at essential frontline workers.
Google Workspace Frontline is designed to make it easier for on-the-ground workers – such as nurses, warehouse workers and construction teams – to collaborate with in-office teams. Google explained that frontline staff often don’t have the same access to communication and collaboration tools as desk-based workers, making it more difficult for them to access the information they need on the job.
Workspace Frontline aims to address this by better connecting frontline workers with corporate colleagues. The “custom-built” service includes Gmail, Chat, Docs, and Drive, backed up by enterprise-grade endpoint management to keep corporate data secure.
Google Workspace has also made it easier for business teams to build custom AppSheet apps directly from Google Sheets and Drive, meaning frontline workers can collect data, report safety risks or manage customer requests on the fly.
SEE: TechRepublic Premium editorial calendar: IT policies, checklists, toolkits, and research for download (TechRepublic Premium)
The company said its latest updates were an effort to help customers work with colleagues whether they were working from an office or remotely – supporting more ‘hybrid’ styles working that are expected to become more common over the coming months and years.
One facet of this is helping organizations co-ordinate teams working across different locations and schedules. Google explained that, as hybrid working became more common, managers needed ways of seeing who was working on what, and from where.
Over the coming weeks and months, Google will roll out new Workspace capabilities like segmentable working hours – which will help users block out time where they’re online and available for meetings – as well as recurring out-of-office events and location indicators, all of which will make it easier for employees to share their availability with colleagues.
Another new feature coming to Workspace is Focus Time, which allows users to block out time in their schedules for solid work. Focus Time minimizes notifications and syncs with Calendar, Meet, Chat, and Gmail so co-workers can view a person’s availability (or lack thereof).
Google Workspace users will be able to see how they’re using their time via Time Insights, which sounds similar to the MyAnalytics capabilities offered in Microsoft 365.
SEE: Software as a Service (SaaS): A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
For Google Meet, Google announced better second screen support for its Meet hardware; split-screen and picture-in-picture view for mobile devices; as well as the addition of Q&amp;A, polls and live captions for live-streamed events. Google Workspace is also compatible with Google Assistant as of today, allowing users to ask Google what’s next on their calendar, quickly join a meeting or send a message.
Elsewhere, new security tools have been introduced to Workspace. Assured Controls will allow customers to make decisions about how to control provider access, while expanded Data Regions coverage helps customers choose where their data is geographically located at rest.
And finally, Google is adding Chat, Jamboard, and Calendar to Google Workspace Essentials.
“As much of the world adopts a more hybrid workplace, the long-term success of this new dynamic will ultimately depend on the tools businesses have in place to both support their people and promote an inclusive culture,” said Javier Soltero, VP and GM of Google Workspace.
“We’re now optimizing Google Workspace for the level of collaboration equity, time management and human connection needed for the sustainable and healthy hybrid workplace of the future.”