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Google is rebranding its office productivity suite to Google Workspace, with a selection of new features aimed at the increasing number of homeworkers.
The company claims the Workspace brand better represents the sudden swing in work habits caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, with a large proportion of the workforce working from home instead of together in the office. “Work is no longer associated to a physical place we go to,” said Javier Soltero, vice president and general manager of Google Workspace.
Some of the new features being added to Google Workspace reflect this swing in working environments. For example, teams can now meet picture-in-picture whilst working on Google Docs, Sheets. and Slides. Thumbnails of videoconferencing colleagues appear to the side of the document being worked on, allowing employees to pick up on visual clues and facial expressions from co-workers that they might miss if the Google Meet session was minimized or in another window.
Google Workspace will also soon let teams create documents directly in “rooms” – Google’s nomenclature for the virtual area in which team communications are focused. This means employees working together can chat and start collaborating on a document without having to switch tabs, helping everyone stay focused on the task in hand.
Google is trying to make it easier to help remote colleagues collaborate with so-called Smart Chips. These appear when you mention a colleague by using the @ symbol in a document, providing automatic prompts to, say, assign a task or share the document with the colleague in question.
Linked previews will also make it less cumbersome to see the contents of another team document created in Workspace. Hovering over the link brings up a pop-up window with a preview of the document, allowing workers to review its content without having to leave the document they are working on currently.
G Suite is being rebranded to Google Workspace immediately for all paying business customers. Google is using the rebranding to review its tariffs, which it claims offers customers a “wider range of options and increased ability to choose the right edition to meet their needs”.
Prices start from $6 per user per month for the Business Starter tariff, but double to $12 for Business Standard, which includes “more productivity features such as larger meetings and more storage”. Those prices are identical to the current Basic and Business tariffs.
There’s a further Business Plus tariff at $18 that includes greater security and compliance features, but not the full set of enterprise offerings.
The free, consumer version of G Suite will also be given the new treatment in the “coming months”, according to Google.