Google Workspace is a powerful suite of collaborative productivity tools designed for teams both large and small. But is it a better option than Microsoft 365? Let’s find out…
Formally known as G Suite, Google’s Workspace is The Big G’s brand new, updated, and improved suite of productivity and collaborative applications for enterprises both large and small. Workspace is designed to scale from scant teams of a few people to huge multi-national businesses with tens of thousands of employees.
At its core is, of course, Google’s excellent “Drive” applications – so, things like Google Docs and Google Sheets. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. You also get branded email that runs inside Gmail, cloud storage via Drive, and a raft of additional services and applications that are designed to make working – either remotely, collaboratively, or in a corporate office environment – all the more fluid and efficient.
But competition is stiff in the enterprise productivity niche. You have companies like Microsoft with its market-leading 365 platform which brings with it Excel, Word, and all of its other excellent Office applications. But Google is making inroads into this most difficult of market niches and its progress is all down to just how useful Workspace is for teams both large and small.
Google launched its rebranded Workspace during the height of the COVID pandemic. The new version of G Suite was designed to make working remotely easier; multiple team members can work on and edit documents together inside Workspace, and you have things like offline support and better integration with things like Slack, as well as improved chat functionality inside Workspace – you can now IM inside any Workspace app with colleagues.
All told, Workspace is a powerful, feature-rich productivity platform that has pretty much everything a Fortune 500 to a small SEM will ever need to ensure its employees are working effectively together. But the big question here is whether Workspace is a better option than Microsoft 365 for your business? To find this out, we’ll first take a look at a broad cross-section of reviews, and then do a quick recap of what you get with Workspace, and finally, we’ll do a quick verdict on whether Workspace is a better option than Microsoft 365…
Google Workspace Reviews
Google Workspace Features – What You Get…
- Gmail – Everybody knows Gmail, but when you sign up with Workspace you can run Gmail in all its glory but use a branded corporate email, so it’d be [email protected] for instance, rather than [email protected] And if you’re running a business, this is very important.
- Drive – Drive is Google’s cloud-based suite of applications. Google Drive is where you manage everything. You can quickly view all of your files, documents, spreadsheets, and downloads. Inside Workspace, Drive is essential; it is where you organize everything and manage all of your files and projects.
- Docs – Docs is Google’s answer to Microsoft Word. Docs will run on basically anything with an internet connection, so you can always work and prep documents regardless of where you are or what device you’re using. Docs runs the same on iPhone as it does on desktop and inside your browser. It’s not quite as powerful as Word, but its flexibility earns it plenty of kudos.
- Calendar – Whether you’re running a small or large business, staying on top of your employees’ calendars and schedules is super important. With Workspace’s Calendar, all of your scheduling needs are taken care of. And Calendar works seamlessly with all the other apps inside Workspace like Gmail, Docs, Meet, and Drive.
- Work Insights – Work Insights, as the name suggests, provides detailed analytics on how your team is using Workspace. For instance, it might show you that the majority of your staff love using Gmail and Docs, but only a select few seem happy using Sheets. This kind of actionable data is important because it can highlight any potential issues with how your team is working with Workspace.
- Currents – Currents is basically Google+, just rebranded and relocated inside Workspace. Currents is effectively a social media network for your business, a place where all of your employees and team members can hang out, post updates, and chat amongst themselves. If you have larger teams, Currents is a great way to speak inter-departmental relations.
- Vault – Vault relates to how your Workspace account stores and shares information and data. You can set up rules inside Vault to ensure your business is adhering to all the latest regulations like GDPR, for instance. This makes life A LOT easier for IT departments. You can also manage access to certain levels of Workspace inside Vault.
- Chat & Meet – Google’s Chat and Meet are basically an IM and a video-calling/conferencing app. Team members inside Workspace can use Chat to IM each other in every application and tool inside Workspace, so if you’re working on a document with a few people, you can all discuss it inside Chat within Docs. With Meet, you can do video calls and presentations both inside apps like Gmail and Docs or create and join meetings that take place within Workspace itself.
- Endpoint – Workspace’s Endpoint protects and manages all of the devices that connect to your Workspace account. It is designed with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in mind, so IT people can quickly get things set up and secure. You can outline and develop bespoke requirements for your teams and your company as a whole. It’s a great feature that will ensure anyone connecting to your Workspace is doing so in a secure manner.
Is Workspace Better Than Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are very similar in what they set out to do. Both have similar productivity apps and services, but it is how they go about deploying them that is different; Google prefers to do things “in the browser” and “in the cloud” whereas Microsoft has the option to download the actual desktop and mobile applications, as well as cloud-based versions too.
Both options are very slick, and both make working both remotely and collaboratively very simple. Microsoft’s offering is quite a bit more sophisticated, however, which is why it tends to be more popular with larger enterprises. Google has plenty of big-name users, however, but it is Google’s focus on simplicity and ease of use that has secured its popularity with enterprises big and small in the past few years.
If you demand things like downloadable applications, both for PC and mobile devices, then Microsoft 365 is going to be more your kind of thing. But if you want something that is truly flexible, that runs via the cloud, and is accessible on all manner of devices, then Workspace could be a better fit. I feel like Workspace is designed more with “modern” workplaces in mind, up-and-coming start-ups, small online businesses, and the like, while Microsoft 365 is more geared towards traditional corporate environs like Fortune 500 companies and billion-dollar multi-national businesses.
Both platforms do a lot right, and Workspace has all the features most modern businesses require, including very impressive security and IT management tools that’ll ensure your data and the people accessing your Workspace environment are doing so in a secure and safe manner. I also really love Currents. It basically negates the need to run Slack. All of your team members can freely communicate, post updates, and even quickly send company-wide memos. Microsoft doesn’t have anything like this inside its 365 platform.
Workspace is also cheaper than Microsoft 365, both at the low end and high end, so if you’re looking to tighten your belt or you’re masterminding a lean start-up, Workspace could be a better option for your business. You do get less storage, however, with Workspace – you have options from 30GB to unlimited storage, while Microsoft’s 365 starts with 1TB and also offers unlimited storage. Again, whether this is a deal breaker will depend largely on your business’s specific needs and requirements.
Workspace isn’t “better” than Microsoft 365 but it is certainly as good as Microsoft 365 where it counts – stuff like its collaborative tools, its applications, its ease of use and deployment, and the fact that it is now built with remote working in mind. I’ve used both with my business, for instance, but in 2021 I decided to commit fully to Workspace – largely down to all the improvements Google made with its “Workspace” rebrand. It works better for my team’s style of working – we’re all remote and we all work across a range of devices – and with things like Chat and Meet we’re always able to chat and demo things.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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