Transforming collaboration in Google Workspace
After more than a year of remote collaboration, many people are showing signs of digital fatigue. Throughout the pandemic, millions of employees bridged the physical distances with their colleagues by making themselves more available, joining a deluge of virtual meetings, and leaning into a dizzying array of tools and applications. As part of our mission to build the future of work, we’re addressing these challenges in Google Workspace.
Google Workspace launched smart canvas—a new product experience that delivers the next evolution of collaboration for Google Workspace. Between now and the end of the year, we’re rolling out innovations that make it easier for people to stay connected, focus their time and attention, and transform their ideas into impact.
Specifically, we’re enhancing the apps that hundreds of millions of people use every day—like Docs, Sheets, and Slides—to make them even more flexible, interactive, and intelligent. With smart canvas, we’re bringing the content and connections that transform collaboration into a richer, better experience in Google Workspace.
When we launched Google Docs and Sheets 15 years ago, these apps introduced the world to a new way of working. They enabled anytime, anywhere teamwork—a stark contrast to the legacy tools that were designed for an era of individual work on office desktops. For over a decade now, we’ve been pushing documents away from being just digital pieces of paper and toward collaborative, linked content inspired by the web. Smart canvas is our next big step.
Making collaboration more flexible and helpful
The evolving hybrid work model gives new urgency to existing collaboration challenges. How do teams stay focused and connected as they work together, regardless of where people are located? With smart canvas, we’re building deeper connections across Google Workspace to transform collaboration anywhere it happens.
For example, we’re taking something that people already use every day—@-mentions—to open up new, powerful collaboration capabilities. New interactive building blocks—smart chips, templates, and checklists—will connect people, content, and events into one seamless experience.
Already available, when you @ mention a person in a document, a smart chip shows you additional information like the person’s location, job title, and contact information. And starting today, we’re introducing new smart chips in Docs for recommended files and meetings. To insert smart chips into your work, simply type “@” to see a list of recommended people, files, and meetings. From web or mobile, your collaborators can then quickly skim associated meetings and people or preview linked documents, all without changing tabs or contexts. Smart chips will come to Sheets in the coming months.
Additionally, we’re making it easier to drive projects forward by streamlining common team workflows. Starting today in Docs, checklists are available on web and mobile, and you’ll soon be able to assign checklist action items to other people. These action items will show up in Google Tasks, making it easier for everyone to manage a project’s To Do list.
We’re also introducing table templates in Docs. Topic-voting tables will allow you to easily gather team feedback while project-tracker tables will help you capture milestones and statuses on the fly. And a new document template for capturing meeting notes will automatically import any relevant information from a Calendar meeting invite, including smart chips for attendees and attached files.
With our new pageless format in Docs, you’ll be able to remove the boundaries of a page to create a surface that expands to whatever device or screen you’re using, making it easier to work with wide tables, large images, or detailed feedback in comments. And if you want to print or convert to PDF, you’ll be able to easily switch back to a paginated view.
Meanwhile, you’ll be able to toggle between new views in Sheets to better manage and interact with your data. Our first launch will be a timeline view that makes tracking tasks easier and faster. This flexible view allows you to organize your data by owner, category, campaign, or whichever attribute fits best. Using a dynamic, interactive timeline strengthens your ability to manage things like marketing campaigns, project milestones, schedules, and cross-team collaborations.
Fostering human connection—wherever people work
With smart canvas and innovations in Google Meet, we’re making it easy to bring the voices and faces of your team directly into the collaboration experience, to help people share ideas and solve problems together from anywhere. As part of that, we’re building tighter integrations between our communication and collaboration tools so you can pull content into conversations and conversations into content.
Starting today, we’re rolling out the ability to present your content to a Google Meet call on the web directly from the Doc, Sheet, or Slide where you’re already working with your team. Jumping between collaborating in a document and a live conversation without skipping a beat helps the project—and the team—stay focused. And in the fall, we’re bringing Meet directly to Docs, Sheets, and Slides on the web, so people can actually see and hear each other while they’re collaborating.
Live captions and translations in Google Meet will also play a crucial role in keeping people connected as they work together in distributed teams. We currently offer live captions in five languages, with more on the way. And we’re introducing live translations of captions later this year, starting with English-language live captions translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, or German, with many more languages to follow.
With recent enhancements to Google Meet, we’re also giving people more control and flexibility over the meeting experience, including more space to see people and content, plus the ability to pin and unpin content and video feeds. And to help with meeting fatigue, you can now turn off your self-feed entirely.
Because we know that collaboration is fluid and fast-moving, we’re making it easier for teams to give feedback on the fly and to move seamlessly between conversations and building content together. Teams can now jump from a discussion in Google Chat directly to building content together. Creating and editing Sheets and Docs from Google Chat rooms is already live in our web experience, and we’ll enable it for Slides in the coming weeks. And to gauge the team’s reactions along the way, we’re introducing emoji reactions in Docs in the next few months.
Working smarter and safer
Google Workspace is already infused with powerful intelligence that enables people to make the best use of their time and attention. Whether it’s with the two billion grammar suggestions we surface in Docs every month, or the intelligent file suggestions in Drive’s Priority and Quick Access features that cut file finding time by 50%.
To help everyone work smarter, in the next few months we’re introducing additional assisted writing features in Docs on the web. This includes warnings about offensive words and language, as well as other stylistic suggestions that can speed up editing and help make your writing more impactful. We’re also adding more assisted analysis functionality in our Sheets web experience, with formula suggestions that make it easier for everyone, not just analysts, to derive insights from data. Sheets intelligence helps you build and troubleshoot formulas, making data analysis faster and reducing errors.
As smart canvas evolves, we’re making it easy for businesses to connect the apps and tools they rely on to Google Workspace. This builds on our history of supporting a variety of add-on features that take the friction out of collaboration—from adding e-signatures directly in Google Workspace with DocuSign to the Salesforce connector that integrates with Sheets. To help people work even smarter, we recently announced that AppSheet Automation is generally available, so that you can automate time-consuming tasks—like approving invoices and onboarding new hires—without having to write a single line of code.
Looking ahead, we’re planning to build additional APIs so you can bring the information and actions you need from third-party tools directly into smart canvas elements like smart chips, checklists, and table templates.
And because trust is at the center of all collaboration within Google Workspace, today we’re also launching advanced capabilities that help protect users against security threats and abuse as they work together.RELATED ARTICLEArming Google Workspace users and admins with advanced counter-abuse and threat-analysis capabilitiesWe’re adding new security capabilities into Google Workspace, including Alert Center enrichment with VirusTotal threat context, restricted access to resources, and user blocking in Drive.
Transforming how people work to deliver real-world innovation
While there’s no one way to collaborate, we know from our customers that transforming how people work results in real-world innovation.
Google Workspace fuels a new way of working together. It lets our teams around the world—whether they’re in the office, at home, or in the grocery store aisle—work more flexibly and translate their ideas into new ways of delighting customers.
—Thibaud Cainne, Global Head of Tech Infra and Digital Workplace, Carrefour
Transformation happens at all levels, and often in every tool. We were able to get 17,000 of our people to make the shift from Excel to Google Sheets in just six months by demonstrating how we could optimize, automate, and connect spreadsheets and their data. That kind of collaboration leads to real-world innovation for our clients.
—Monica Andrea Diaz Pinzon, Chief of Digital Transformation (Special Projects), Banco Davivienda
We built a digital hub on Google Workspace to transform the way we connect with employees and partners across multiple locations and organizations. It allowed us to spin up major research projects in days instead of months, including delivery of major COVID-19 vaccine studies.
—Justin Riordan-Jones, Head of System and Information (Research), Department of Health & Social Care, National Institute for Health Research (UK)
As smart canvas drives the next era of collaboration in Google Workspace, we remain committed to providing a solution that’s flexible, helpful, and that fuels innovation for organizations in every industry. On the frontlines, in corporate offices, and across the countless workspaces in between, Google Workspace will continue to transform how work gets done.
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