Google Workspace is the professional version of Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Docs, Team Drive, and much more. It provides great functionality that covers Hygge companies’ need in access management, planning and working. A corporate Google account not only grants access to that whole ecosystem but also serves as the key to other web applications. The world where you needed to create separate accounts with unique passwords for each application is fading away. It is being replaced with Google and other identity providers that handle your credentials and enforce company-wide policies on application access. Use Sign-in with Google feature when creating 3rd party website accounts to stay safe and to not having to remember another password.
In Hygge Companies, your Gmail-account is the key to Google Workspace. We don’t use emails to communicate inside the company, keeping the conversations on GitHub when possible.
Emails are used mainly to talk to people outside the company. Always use “Reply all” option to be sure you do not exclude anyone from the conversation. For all public email addresses and subscriptions, it’s always a good idea to set up Google Groups with team-specific addresses (e.g., [email protected] or [email protected]). They allow incoming mail to be forwarded to all group members. Don’t forget to CC those addresses when replying to these emails or communicating externally on behalf of your team. Reach out to group owners or Google Workspace admins if you need to be added to a group.
Google Calendar can be used to manage schedules so that people can easily plan and organize meetings, conference calls, and other events. You can subscribe to a Company Calendar to see everyone’s birthdays and company-wide events like workations and add other team members’ calendars to always be up-to-date on their work schedule. If you prefer fixed working hours, you can enable them in your Google Calendar. In case you are planning to be off work for a while, set your “Out of office” days. Read more about paid-time-off in Hygge companies here.
For those rare occasions when GitHub isn’t enough, there’s Google Meet for video calls. You can find a link to join a Meet call in almost all Google Calendar event descriptions. Don’t forget to record any important decisions and do-outs in the corresponding GitHub issues after the call.
In Hygge companies, all work meetings/calls are optional. The regular team calls mostly serve team-building purposes. Leverage nonwork calls and be intentional about informal communication. In remote settings, it’s important to manage your isolation and mental health, so don’t be shy to use those calls when appropriate to get some face time and boost morale. Yes, people want to see your pet, say “Hi” to your partner, and know a little more about that painting on your wall. Be intentional about informal communication.
Apart from team-building purposes, there is a limited number of scenarios where synchronous communication is a better option. Clearing things up when you are blocked, brainstorming, learning (e.g. peer coding) and discussing particularly difficult issues where an understanding can’t be reached online are among them. However, before scheduling a call, consider these tradeoffs:
- Video calls hold your whole attention and leave no opportunity to optimize your work tasks.
- A video call is limited in time: a conversation on an issue can start or stop at any time, whenever there’s interest. It is async.
- Video calls leave no documentation on the discussed topic, while conversations on issues are easily searchable and anyone can track the development of every topic in question.
- Video calls are more personal than written communication, so you need to have better interpersonal skills to leverage them.
- Reference a GitHub issue or product you are going to be talking about in the meeting invitation.
- Have a call agenda and come prepared.
- Always use a headset with a microphone and remember to mute yourself when not talking.
- Document the call outcome afterwards.
- Be respectful of others’ time. Use synch communication as the last solution to your problem.
- Schedule calls with vague topics, e.g., “Catch up,” “1-to-1,” “Talk,” etc. These unclear messages might cause anxiety and leave no space for your teammates to prepare for the conversation.
- Rush into calls before trying to find answers yourself in the company’s wiki or Google. You’ll be surprised at how many answers you can find with just a bit of effort.
You will always have more work than time in your life, so be smart with your schedule. If you get invited to a meeting you don’t think you should go to, decline the invitation. Allocate several free slots in your calendar when you’re available for the synchronous meetings. As you stop attending low-value meetings, your efficiency will increase as you get more time to focus on your issues, milestones, and products. Other benefits include reducing potential burnout and zoom fatigue.
While GitHub is a perfect tool to organize your work, we use Google Docs, Sheets and other Workspace functionality for selected tasks. It’s a great tool for remote and asynchronous collaboraion if you follow these easy steps working with your documents:
- Avoid working in offline Word or Excel files and uploading/attaching them to emails and GitHub issues later. Those are difficult to find and collaborate on. Attach the link to an online Google document to your issue on GitHub;
- Don’t Work on documents privately to share them from your personal Google Drive space. Instead, place them into relevant Google Team Drives. This will allow you to share your documents with appropriate team members and maintain control over the access.
- Use versioning feature of Google Drive to update documents without changing the sharing link and don’t forget to double-check the recipients’ access permissions.