Remote or Hybrid? Google Workspace & Change Management makes you feel at work wherever you are.

Overview

Join Cesca Ashcroft (Change Manager) and Pablo Savva (Cloud Consultant) in discussing the importance of Change Management and Google Workspace.   

CTS has definitely embraced the “crazy” of working from home (WFH); we welcomed the struggles and celebrated the benefits. From the Room in Google Chat for “A question a day...”, to chicken sh*t bingo, live music and comedians on Google Meet.

We were a heavily remote workforce before the pandemic forced colleagues to be, so we had a head start on preparing ourselves. The pandemic has seen CTS double in size, with many of us never stepping foot in the office. I’ve been considering how that has actually benefited our WFH culture.

So, Pablo, a Workspace Cloud Consultant based in the suburbs of Edinburgh, who started in December 2020 has some top tips on how Google Workspace helps create that collaborative office feel.

Then I, Cesca, Change Manager based in Hertfordshire who started in August 2020 has some tips on how to support your employees through the changes they still have to come.

Cesca: I have everything I need for a great office space at home which then allows me to cook up a storm at lunch and balance my workouts at the gym.

I have only managed to visit the office a handful of times since joining, so I’ve only met a few of my colleagues (in ‘real’ life), but I’ve managed to build great friendships with colleagues online.

Though we have never met in person, we have a great working relationship, right Pablo?

Pablo: The best!

Cesca: But, have you actually met anyone in the flesh yet?

Pablo: Not only have I not met anyone within CTS yet, but I have been working remotely for almost 4 years. During this time, I managed a large team and never met any of them in person!

Cesca: How does working remotely benefit your work life balance?

Pablo: If I were to pick out some of the benefits I would say the biggest one is I have learnt self discipline. Like many others, I still struggle with knowing when to stop working and ensuring there is a clear division between work and play when working from home. I have found that many of these self discipline tips can also be applied to project work with other remote workers.

As a company, and along with our customers, we’ve experienced some of the benefits of WFH:

  • Spending more time with your family and introducing them to your colleagues on screen
  • Noticing similar interests with stakeholders by the pictures you’ve got on the wall or the instruments you have lying around in your background. (“That’s a lovely plant you’ve got there!” or “I play the Piano too!”)
  • Replacing your commute with getting some household chores out the way. Let’s face it, nobody has missed this.
cesca 1

[The Workspace Community are such a lovely bunch]

However, like most companies, some of us won’t be returning to the office full time or at all and I was shocked to read this research that says we will be returning to full time working in the office in two years time. This is a lot of change in store for your colleagues, which will need to be clearly communicated every step of the way.

In addition, watching our friends and family go back to the office everyday; when some are not is going to add a complication most companies won’t have thought about - especially for the extroverts and the social butterflies!

In most cases, “working from home fatigue” has impacted our collaboration. Food for thought:

  • How do you replicate the Office “banter” that contributes so highly to our job satisfaction?
  • How can you ask that 5 second yes or no question to the person sat next to you?
  • How do you help new starters really encompass the company culture and values?

These all play a massive role in how we build motivation and what approach we take on our work. Without it, employees will only want to do the bare minimum or start taking more time off sick, stunting the organisation's growth and room for transformation.

Here are some of the things CTS recommends to boost the energy in your team:

1. Virtual Watercooler

Pablo: To fix the idea of not being sat next to someone, set up a Google Meet and have it on in the background to mimic working side by side with your colleagues. Soak up the social vibe and vocalise your thoughts there and then.

As much as this helps maintain the “have you heard about this feature” conversation (an extremely common conversation in the Google cloud world), it’s also a great way to reduce some of the fears or assumptions when it comes to video meetings. Here at CTS we thrive on culture and part of that is ensuring staff and customers are part of one team. Video calls can give staff and customers a very formal business expectation, reducing the acceptance of small talk out at the start of a meeting.

By creating Watercooler video calls with the sole goal of enabling these non formal conversations make it easier to subconsciously include these informal convos in all calls. I am certainly guilty of going off on a tangent on many of my calls, just the other day someone called it “Pablo was geeking out”.

Cesca: Agreed! Conversations like the updates on your home built servers or catch ups with Nick Keen’s Cat, Ralph, help us all get to know each other. That's why working at CTS is like working with your mates everyday and makes us such a high performing team!

This can be a daunting idea that usually falls flat on its face if it’s opened to the whole company at once. Start with an open call with your immediate team, project team or your work bestie so when you need the answer to a question someone is there to ask immediately.

2. Chit Chat Rooms (soon to be Spaces)

cesca 2

 


Cesca: Like with video calls, not every written exchange needs to be work focused either. We have plenty of Chats and Rooms that colleagues can join to discuss similar interests. From Reality TV Shows, to pictures of your pets to celebrating diversity throughout our colleagues. Just a couple of smiles and laughs a day can bring you closer to colleagues you’ve never met.

So the more we can have fun and bring ourselves to work the more satisfied we are in a job (even over salary!).

3. Flexible hours and Calendar Management

Cesca: The summer is here and do we really work 9-5 anymore? Work life balance can be easily managed with using the features of Google Calendar.

cesca 3


Pablo: Even your calendar is integrated into your “Workspace”!

Start your day with Cloud search: Calendar.google.com is not the only place that shows your agenda.

There is a workspace app called Google Cloud Search that acts like the interconnective tissue of all the on goings in your account and it's a great place to start your day!

[Images taken from blog]

Flip Calendar sharing on its head!

What are you missing out on if you don’t share your calendar event details? If your colleagues and customers think you’re busy, you may be missing out on opportunities or they may think you can’t be disturbed to help with an urgent matter.

Access Permissions in Calendar is the setting that tells Google what information to show in your calendar with people you have not shared it with. For example, Sonia is the new HR director and she wants to check your calendar to find a time. As you have not shared your calendar with her directly yet, she will only see Free or Busy events in your calendar as you have your default sharing settings to “See only free/busy.”

cesca 4

Set the option to “See all event details” so Sonia can find a time to talk with you.

4. Desk booking App!

Cesca: I recently wrote a blog internally about visiting our office for the first time. The biggest faux pas I made was sitting at someone else’s desk. For the most comfortable situation I sat next to my friend but this meant I was stealing a seat already claimed by someone else- not a good way to make friends!

Pablo: We’re now implementing a Desk Booking system developed in-house at CTS using AppSheet and available to you too! Many businesses are reaching out to many third party desk booking systems and paying a per user license to use it.

What if I said that your Google Workspace Enterprise plus licenses gives you and your users a quick customised hot desk booking app with "no code"? Google has even gotten it started for you! Make a copy and start customising it here.

CTS recently released their own version of this for our three offices:cesca 6

How will you manage these changes now you do not need to hide behind a pandemic?

Cesca: I personally don’t think I would have taken a job contracted to work remotely before lockdown but now I have found my groove. There are still a few things I struggle with; Feeling involved, missing out on conversations or sore screen eyes. Some of your employees will struggle with these too. If we put all the different struggles of all the individuals in your organisation together, it’s a right mess!

Taking a few Change Management steps to manage this will ensure your people feel supported and won’t let Hybrid or Remote working impact their day to day job:

1. Check in regularly with each other, with your team and take on feedback.

Some of these ideas may not work for you and your team, it’s okay to make changes every couple of weeks. Transformation happens when you fail fast and learn quickly.

CTS recommends: Run a poll on Google Meet at the beginning of your weekly team meeting for a quick colleague satisfaction score.

2. Make information clear and available.

We've lost the ability to “ask around the office” so we need to make sure that there are clear instructions and answers available on many channels.

If you don’t have an intranet, create a Google Site and post the link in your email signatures. Or have you tried an asynchronous communication approach with applications like Threadit?

3. Walk the Talk!

Whatever your vision for hybrid or remote working is, make it clear by leading by example. Senior leaders need to communicate to employees by demonstration. The age old phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ is poignant when encouraging change in behaviours. A lot of colleagues don’t think it is okay to do until they see it done by more senior staff.

At CTS, in the “Ware are you Walking” chat room (deliberately misspelled!) we encourage each other to get out at any spare moment in the day to explore the outdoors by sharing pictures of our own. Our COO is always the first to post!

4. Share success stories - celebrate everything!

Whether it be giving feedback to an individual or congratulating a team, no matter how small the changes they have made. Let other colleagues know what people are doing across the business so they can do the same.

CTS Recommends: Put it on every agenda for every Team Meeting and Town Hall. With an established slot in these meetings, colleagues will see that this important and that celebrating success is a regular must have!

There are great tools available in Google Workspace to help us with our jobs but it’s how we use them and the change in our behaviors. When we do that we will transform our organisations and prepare us for wherever we decide to work. Reach out to CTS (a group of extremely Workspace passionate people!) who are waiting to help your organisation get the most from Google Workspace.

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