Flow Communications

Over a decade ago, Flow Communications started using Google Workspace (formerly known as Google Suite), allowing us to run our business operations in a way that is integrated and collaborative. It’s basically our “business in a box” – a collection of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google.

From Gmail and Google Docs to Google Meet and Google Chat, among other features, the full Google Workspace offering allows Flow to run like a well-oiled machine. It works well for Flow, providing us with a platform to thrive as a 100% remote-working agency, with a fully digital approach to work.

Here are some pointers to help you use it effectively, too:

1. Use the full suite of tools on Google Workspace

The real value of Google Workspace is apparent when you use the entire suite of features such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Meet, Google Slides and Google Calendar together. People often choose to use only one feature at a time, but they rob themselves of the full experience. Our Flowstars (which is what we call our team members) use a combination of features simultaneously and have found that all the features integrate information effectively when used together.

For example, when sending a meeting request to team members using Google Calendar, you can automatically and conveniently generate meeting notes from Google Docs, pre-populated with the event details. This document can then be used to store the meeting minutes and other content.

This is just one example, among many others, of how Google Workspace seamlessly integrates different functions, making our lives as knowledge workers easier.

2. Google Docs to the rescue!

There’s a place for traditional world-processing software such as Microsoft Word, but it can cause confusion (and even lead to errors) when team members find themselves working on different versions of a document.

Google Docs eliminates this problem. Its biggest selling point is the feature that allows users to collaborate on one document simultaneously. Flowstars often create and edit documents online while collaborating with other users in real time.

They track their edits and comments and can revisit old versions of the document at any time. Should disaster strike and a Flowstar’s laptop is damaged or lost, they can still access Google Docs via a web browser – without worrying about losing copies of documents stored on the laptop.

3. Don’t underestimate Gmail – its phishing and malware protection is tops

Google stops more than 100-million harmful emails from reaching Gmail users every day, according to Google research scientist Kurt Thomas.

At the peak of the pandemic crisis in 2020, says Thomas, Google saw 18-million malware and phishing emails daily related to Covid-19. However, Google’s mechanisms were able to block more than 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware from reaching users.

Here’s an exercise you can do to improve your protection against phishing and malware: check your spam folder regularly and “teach” the Google spam engine what really is spam and what isn’t.

You can help Google detect unsolicited messages by marking them as spam, which will help protect all other Google users from receiving spam. You can also unmark emails that are not spam. This way, the Google spam filter will be your biggest ally in keeping you protected and safe.

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(Image: Solen Feyissa, Unsplash)

4. Google Meet and Chat are worth a try

Many organisations that use Google Workspace are still using third-party conferencing platforms such as Slack or Skype for team meetings. For Flowstars, Google Meet and Google Chat have become so seamlessly integrated with other aspects of Google Workspace that it makes virtual meetings and quick catch-ups effortless.

5. Use the ‘find a time’ feature on Google Calendar to set up meetings

Scheduling internal meetings has never been easier than with the “find a time” feature, which allows you to check availability on everyone’s calendars and find an appropriate time for a meeting. Previously, if John was scheduling a meeting for six people, he would need to check all six diaries and then coordinate separately with six different calendars. This feature has made scheduling easier for Flowstars and cut several steps down to just one.

Note that this feature is only available if your entire organisation uses Google Workspace. This is why it is essential that companies ensure their staff members all use one common online workspace.

6. Google Slides can be used for graphic design

Google Slides is commonly used for creating presentations but, at Flow, it has also become a popular template engine for any form of graphic. Flowstars use this nifty feature to create social media graphics, quote-of-the-day posts and, recently, even graphics for a television production. You can set a Google Slides presentation to be any size – not just the traditional landscape format.

The above are just a few of the features that Flowstars use, but there are many more. The key is to continuously explore the offerings in the Google Workspace to find what works best for your company.

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