The technophobe's guide to Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts was designed to allow colleagues, suppliers and clients to interact together in real time as easily as shouting across the office. It's about to change the way you work.

If you’re from the generation which is patient enough to draft an email or wait for someone to return your phone call - we need to break some bad news to you. 

The next generation’s attention span has been shot to pieces. 

Instant chat and video messaging systems - such as Google Hangouts - are the only tool quick enough for millennials, who will expect to use this technology at work. 

Still need convincing?

  • We all instinctively know the advantages of face to face communication. That snarky client is never quite so mean without email to hide behind. An incomprehensible spreadsheet can quickly be understood when you talk to the author. Google Hangouts isn't quite as good as face to face, of course - but it’s designed as the next best thing.
  • The world’s gone global. Your business may be multisite, serve international clients and/or use foreign suppliers. Your success depends on sourcing the best possible talent and clients, wherever they may be, and working effectively with them. Technology like Google Hangouts makes this easy. 

But shouldn't employees be working?

Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock.com

Alexander Supertramp / Shutterstock.com

Aha - there’s no fooling you! Google Hangouts can, of course, be a time waster’s best friend. Like all technology designed to help us get more done, it can be used for chatting as well as work. (How anyone used to waste time in an office before the internet was invented is beyond us, but they must have found ways.) The right IT support company can help you monitor how staff use Hangouts.

However, Google Hangouts is supposed to promote informal ways of working. Chatting can produce serendipitous moments which could change your business forever. A bit like people throwing ideas around the coffee machine and falling upon a great solution. 

One thing’s certain - Hangouts will help your team get more done. Asking questions is quick. Sharing documents is easy. Switching from email to chat to video is as easy as clicking buttons.

But I've just invested thousands of pounds in a teleconferencing system…

Darn it! We can’t help you there. Google Hangouts does everything expensive systems do - just add a webcam and headset. It’s easy for your clients and suppliers to use it for free. And of course, the most exciting thing about Google Apps is that they are constantly being improved in real time and added to. You can use instant messaging to send messages throughout a video call - very helpful if the Frankfurt office wants to share a Google doc, or needs to discreetly ask you to mute your heavy breathing without interrupting the presenter. In the very near future, we'll probably be furious we ever had to pay for a phone call or text.

(Well - that’s only our view. The audio/video conferencing system purveyors would levy the typical claim bandied against Google - that its systems aren't secure enough for a professional business. Yet this reviewer ranks Google Hangouts above Blackberry Messenger and several other systems for security.)

Ready?

Google Hangouts is free, and easy to use. But the right IT support company could help your team: 

  • Set usage policies.
  • Get maximum value from the tools.
  • Replace expensive legacy audio/video conferencing equipment.

About the author

Lucy Busuttil previously worked for a client of Kimbley IT for three years. A former technophobe, she has been transformed into a cloud evangelist and now works at Facebook!