This is the first post in a brand-new series on the BetterCloud Monitor: The Cloud Office Transformation Series. For the next few months, the BetterCloud Monitor will explore transformational applications for cloud office systems that change the way people work on a daily basis.
Even if your organization uses Google for Work as your cloud office system, chances are your approach to instant communication and conferencing is somewhat disjointed. Separate teams, business units, or departments often use completely different software to accomplish the same tasks. For instance, you may find that the sales team uses Skype for Business, but your developers use Slack. Maybe IT prefers WebEx, but accounting uses GoToMeeting. If this sounds like your organization, Hangouts offers an excellent opportunity to streamline and transform existing processes.
Hangouts can greatly reduce your reliance on, or even completely replace, many of these solutions. If you are already on the Google for Work platform, leveraging Hangouts is a no-brainer.
As most IT admins know, however, getting users to embrace a new technology is often easier said than done.
1. Use Hangouts for IT support calls
This is one of the easiest ways to increase exposure to Hangouts. When contacting a user to assist with troubleshooting, send them a link to join a Hangout. You can use the easy screen-sharing functionality of Hangouts to assist the end user, and an added bonus is the extra personalization of a face-to-face meeting.
Aside from the practical advantages, the goal is to showcase the technology and gently nudge users in the right direction. Think of it as adding a small change management investment to each support case, which should have a significant long-term cumulative effect.
2. Enlist key stakeholders to support wider utilization of Hangouts for routine meetings
Using Hangouts for more meetings seems like an obvious tactic, but accomplishing this goal isn’t always easy. It’s usually best to begin with a top-down approach:
- Enlist the support of several influential managers to act as “champions” for Google Hangouts.
- Have your champions run a “pilot” by using Hangouts to host internal meetings. The convenience factor is a big selling point, so make sure your stakeholders are familiar with key functionality, like embedding links and joining Hangouts from Google Calendar.
- Hold brief 1:1 trainings with your champions to highlight salient features, such as screen-sharing and Hangouts Lower Third.
Again, the goal here is to raise awareness of the effectiveness of Hangouts across the organization, which should result in increased adoption.
3. Deploy Hangouts for the Chrome Desktop app
So far we have focused on techniques for encouraging adoption of Hangouts organically. However, there are more direct steps you can take to help make Hangouts more convenient and persistent.
One way to do this is to get Hangouts onto users’ desktops via the desktop app for the Chrome App Launcher. If your organization is on Google for Work, the Hangouts desktop app is easy to deploy using the Chrome management settings in the Google Admin console.
Rolling out this application is strongly recommended if your users are accessing their mail through a desktop client, such as Outlook or Apple Mail. Users accessing their mail via a desktop client are often not routinely logged in to their account in the browser, so adding the desktop functionality is indispensable.
4. Deploy Chromebox for Meetings
Another direct step you can take to standardize the use of Hangouts is to replace existing conference room audio-visual hardware with Chromebox for Meetings (CfM). Chromebox for Meetings consists of the Chromebox unit itself, a camera, microphone, and remote control, which can be connected to the existing display hardware in your conference room.
Once configured, the CfM will integrate directly with Google Calendar as a resource, so in practice, booking the conference room and scheduling the actual video conference are a single step. Attendees can then join the Hangout from their calendar, or the link in the calendar invite email.
Alternatively, users can walk into the room, pick up the remote control, and through a simple user interface, schedule an ad-hoc meeting. Remote attendees are able to join the meeting using Hangouts on their own computer or mobile device, thus reinforcing the use of Hangouts as a standardized solution.
Leveraging some or all of these strategies will help drive adoption of Google Hangouts which, in turn, will have a transformative effect. Like any implementation it will require some effort, but the ends will more than justify the means.
By standardizing around Hangouts you will be able to improve collaboration and save money by reducing or eliminating redundant hardware and software. Increased uniformity also simplifies tech support and reduces the amount of training needed when onboarding new employees. Transforming your workplace with Google Hangouts is a win for both end users and IT.