American tech giant Google is updating its productivity software to meet the needs of frontline and remote workers better, as the pandemic has permanently changed how people work.
Google Workspace is a collection of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed and marketed by Google.
Customized for frontline workers
According to a blog by Google’s parent company Alphabet, a version of the company’s Workspace offering will be customized specifically for frontline workers, such as retail and healthcare employees. The effort will let organizations better communicate and collaborate with employees through their mobile phones and is similar to a service from rival Microsoft.
Workspace, formerly known as G Suite, will also integrate with Google’s digital voice assistant and have features to let employees set and enforce unique working hours.
The internet giant is trying to make its line of productivity tools, including Gmail, Meet videoconferencing and Docs word processing, essential to businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Balancing family and work
Employees have had to balance professional and family demands while doing their jobs from home for the last year, leading to a rise in unconventional work hours and other flexible arrangements.
Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of Workspace, said Google was trying to embrace the “messiness” of work life during the pandemic. “It will never be the same again, but we should use that as an opportunity rather than try to recreate 2018 or 2019,” he added.
With the changes, Workspace will notify employees if they try to message a colleague who’s off the clock, and encourage them to time an email for when the coworker is back online. It will also make it possible to minimize distractions for periods of time, share employee locations with colleagues and set up recurring out-of-office messages. Google Assistant will now work with corporate Workspace accounts, letting people send messages and check calendars with their voice.
While Workspace has 2.6 billion users, the suite is free for individual users. Google makes money from the software by signing up business customers and other organizations to paid accounts.