Google Workspace is the professional version of Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Docs, Team Drive, and much more. 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.
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 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.
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.
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. Always use a headset with a microphone and remember to mute yourself when not talking. 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. In remote settings, it’s important to manage your isolation and mental health, so don’t be shy to leverage 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.
Apart from team-building purposes, there are a limited number of scenarios where synchronous communication is a better option. Clearing things up when you are blocked, brainstorming, 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.
- 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.