Google is adding a smattering of new features to Google Workspace today, including new tools for categorizing your focus time in Google Calendar and Chat, better ways to join Google Meet videoconferences with multiple devices, and a version of its office suite for frontline workers. It’s also taking Google Assistant for Workspace out of beta and making it generally available.
The company is trying to categorize these features as part of a new push for what it calls “collaboration equity.” For Google, it’s a high-minded way of explaining the tools it’s trying to create so people working from home are not put at a disadvantage compared to people working from an office (when people are allowed back into offices, that is).
The idea that comes closest to hitting that mark is Google’s tools for setting your status across its suite of products. In addition to setting up out-of-office and working hours, users will also be able to create a new event type called Focus Time. When you set up a block of Focus Time, Google says it will limit “notifications during these event windows.” You can also set your location, letting co-workers get a better sense of your availability and time zone.
The key is that Workspace’s various tools like Gmail and Chat will be aware of your current status and location and adjust your notifications to suit. It’s not nearly the ideal universal status indicator, but it’s a step in the right direction — as long as you live mostly in Google Workspace and aren’t mixing in other tools like Slack.
The new types of statuses on the calendar also allow Google to make a kind of work-focused “time well spent” chart, only this one shows how much time you’re wasting in meetings every week. Google says this “Time Insights” breakdown will only be available to workers, not their bosses.