Google prepares for hybrid return to office work

by Jeremy

Google is betting on a hybrid work pattern when offices reopen, adding some features to its Workspace product to link front line and remote staff with office workers. Workplace, which replaces G Suite and Google Hangouts, comprises Google’s office productivity suite, along with cloud-based storage, video conferencing, collaboration tools, and endpoint security and management controls.

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In a blog post outlining the new functionality, Javier Soltero, vice-president and general manager of Google Workspace, wrote: “Since we launched Google Workspace last October, we’ve heard from many of our customers – from global enterprises to small businesses – about the new ways they’re connecting, creating and collaborating, often across living rooms, time zones, and continents. This response propels us on our mission to build for the future with a solution that’s flexible, helpful, and inspires innovation.”

The tech industry is gearing up for a return to work that will likely be different from before the pandemic. A recent Gartner survey reported that 90% of respondents plan to allow employees to work at least part of the time remotely even after the Covid-19 vaccine is widely adopted. This is reflected in Deloitte’s Tech trends 2021 report, which suggests the work environment will be mixed, where people may work from home some of the time.

Retailer Toolstation switched over to Google in February 2020, just before the first coronavirus lockdown. When the UK-wide lockdown was announced, it closed for just one day to reconfigure operations from 80% in-store sales to 100% online click and collect. We have a pretty small management team and were able to turn the business model to 100% ecommerce in a day,” said Stuart McGrogan, lead architect at Toolstation. “This was made possible using Google Hangouts to communicate with people.”

In McGrogan’s experience, the switch to Google was relatively easy; as the head office in Bridgwater, Somerset had deployed MacBooks, which meant there were no “WinTel hangovers”, such as the complexity of having to migrate from Microsoft Active Directory. The company previously had 120 Office 365 licenses, but this has now been trimmed down to 20, used only in finance. Everyone else uses Google products for office productivity.

McGrogan said that using Google for collaboration has also allowed Toolstation to change how it recruits staff. “We are no longer limited to recruiting from a 15-mile radius from the office, which opens up the talent pool.”

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