Smart ways you can use Google's low-cost productivity apps
Google's affordable suite of business-focused apps is popular for its word processing, email and storage features. But there are plenty of other handy features built into the G Suite package that many small-business owners aren't even aware of – or, perhaps, haven't taken the time to investigate. Here are three to check out.
Video meetings are one of those things that sound great in theory but don't always work out the way you imagine – usually due to technical issues. Google's approach is to keep things as simple as possible. To set up a meeting in Hangouts, all you need to do is share a link. Recipients can click on that link wherever they see it – in an email, text or calendar event – to join the conversation. The interface and settings are about as intuitive as you can imagine, and you can access a meeting from your phone, tablet or computer using pretty much any operating system. Upgrade to Enterprise Edition and you'll be issued a dial-in number for each meeting, so even participants without access to Wi-Fi or data can join.
Kick your teamwork up a notch via G Suite's collaborative Jamboard service, which is essentially a virtual whiteboard that you can access on its own or from within Hangouts. Groups of people in the same room – or around the world – can sketch out ideas on the same board (or "jam") by drawing, adding sticky notes and pictures, downloading and attaching files from Drive, or finding and grabbing information from the Web. Anyone invited to the meeting can provide input on the board using their phone or tablet, and jams are automatically saved to Drive for easy future access and sharing.
Internal websites can be a fantastic means for communicating with – and presenting projects to – employees, but many small businesses get scared off thinking they'll need an IT department to manage an intranet. Not so with G Suite's Sites tool, which lets anyone design and build a website for a team, project or event with exactly zero training in Web design or programming. Just drag and drop content where you want it and watch as it's automatically arranged into proper layout thanks to a smart grid design. Like most G Suite apps, Sites supports collaboration, which means multiple users can access and edit a site simultaneously and see each other's changes in real time. And its dynamic design means content will rearrange itself to look great on any device, including laptops, tablets, and phones. Once you're done, you can secure your site by setting sharing permissions and ownership while tracking change history. It's an easy way to get everyone in your company on the same page – literally.