Google Workspace's main competitor is Microsoft Teams, which many businesses use to handle their standard productivity tools like a calendar, email, and video conferencing. And because many larger companies have integrated Teams into other aspects of what they do (ex. SAP, Citrix, etc.), it makes sense to use Teams for that compatibility.
For small teams or remote teams, however, Google Workspace is a much better option.
Why we like Google Workspace for small and remote teams
- It's easy to learn. Google Workspace is a productivity suite that doesn't require hours of training to learn. The tools like Calendar and Docs are simple and intuitive.
- It includes cloud-based storage. Depending on which plan your small business chooses, you can get 30 GB to 5 TB.
- Comes with security features for your team and data. Google protects your team's data with enhanced security features.
- It includes a custom business email. Your small business will have its own email address, and you can add team members.
- You get more for your money than with Microsoft Teams. You get more storage and no annual commitment.
- Free Trial! You get to try it for 14 days with no commitment.
Google Workspace includes a full suite of productivity tools. Here's everything you get with any Business Account and how it's used.
Gmail is Google's email service, but you probably knew that. Business accounts get guaranteed uptime, custom addresses, and extra storage for user accounts. Syncs with Apple Mail, Outlook, and Thunderbird.
Essentially, Google Drive is Google's cloud-based storage solution for your business. You can upload and share files across your entire team or select members. Your team members can also work in Google Drive, saving their computer hard drive's disk space.
Google Meet is Google's video conferencing software (like Zoom or Skype). It has most of the standard features a business needs, like screen sharing and recording. The main benefit of using Google Meet is how easily it syncs with Google's other features like Calendar and even with other productivity software like Slack.
Google Calendar allows team members to track, add, accept, edit, and change events on a shared team calendar. Team members can create secondary calendars, as well, for specific functions. So only the marketing department, for example, will see things in the marketing calendar. Google Calendar syncs with Apple Calendar.
Think Microsoft Word but with the advantages of auto-saving to the cloud, so that no computer malfunction will cause you to lose your work. Many also prefer Google Docs to Word because its UI is a bit more user-friendly for most tasks related to word processing.
This is Google's version of spreadsheet or Excel. It has all the same features you might know from Excel with the added benefit of auto-saving to the cloud. And it's actually much easier to create graphs, tables, and charts with Google Sheets.
As the name implies, this is Google's slideshow software (a la Powerpoint). It's simple, easy to use, and comes with various clean templates to get you started. One benefit of Google Slides is the ease of sharing it with team members who can collaborate on it.
What is Google Keep? Google Keep is a very basic note-keeping and alerts software that can be incorporated into your other tools. You create a pinboard of notes and alerts, which can be set to alert you periodically as a reminder or on a specific day. It's very minimal at the moment, but we expect it to get better.
Google Sites is a very basic website, wiki page, or blog builder for your small business. If you're looking to establish some web presence quickly, then this is a good option. Google also makes it easy to purchase your custom URL.
Want to do a survey or collect information that can be auto-transferred to a spreadsheet in Google Sheets? Forms is an easy-to-use and make survey/questionnaire feature that collects data from participants and can store that information in either Google Drive or Sheets.
Google Currents is Google's version of Slack or internal communication tool and manager. It allows team members to chat with one another, create channels for collaborative work, set project deadlines, etc. Your small business may still prefer to stick with Slack, and the good news is that the Google tools work great with Slack, as well!
At Howchoo, we use Google Workspace with Slack and have found the integration to be relatively seamless. We're able to schedule meetings within Slack that automatically get added to our Google Calendar, for example. We can also easily share Docs and Sheets from our Google Workspace to team members in Slack.
Top productivity tools with Google Workspace integration
|Tool||Integration||How it works|
|Slack||All apps||Calendar reminders, Doc previews, and shares, etc.|
|Dropbox||Gmail||Allows users to share in Dropbox folders through Gmail|
|Clockify||Docs, Chrome, Calendar||Can track team's time via Chrome extension or in Calendar and create a Google Doc report|
|Streak||Gmail||Turns your Gmail into a complex CRM|
|Trello||All apps||Create Google Docs, Slides, Drawings, Sheets, and Folders directly from a Trello card|
|Hootsuite||Drive||Access your Google Drive drive files from the Hootsuite dashboard, sharing to social directly|
|Evernote||Drive, Gmail||Save notes and emails with leaving Gmail / Sync with Drive|
|Salesforce||All apps||Integrates leads, contacts, reports, and more throughout Workspace apps|
If your small business is using a productivity tool not listed in the table above, then you can quickly check that it integrates with Google Workspace by visiting the tool's website or performing a Google search. Hint: Just about every productivity tool does function with Google Workspace.
The graphic above should give you a good sense of the different pricing structures for Google Workspace. It's important to note that all Google Workspace options come with access to all of the productivity tools. The main differences are in terms of storage space and added security features. We'll highlight each of these below to give you a sense of what's right for your business.
We recommend that most small businesses will want to start with the "Business Standard" account.
Small business storage space
The storage space Google Workspace provides is per user, so each user is given an allotment of cloud-based storage for their account. The business starter account only gives a user about 30 GB, which, to be honest, is not a lot of storage and will run out rather quickly—especially if your team members are using photographs, graphics, or anything else that takes up a lot of space. We recommend that most small businesses will want to start with the "Business Standard" account, which provides 2 TB of storage (a HUGE jump up from 30 GB).
Small business security options
ALL Google Workspace accounts come with enough security features to make you feel relatively secure with your data. Things like 2-factor authentication and security alerts are standard. If your small business is handling sensitive material or sending sensitive communications, you'll want to consider the Business Plus or Enterprise plans, which come with bonus security features like Data Loss Prevention, S/MIME encryption, and Context-aware Access, and Secure LDAP.
We'll walk you through the first steps to get your team started with Google Workspace.
Setting up your Google Workspace account
By default, Google will ask you a series of questions to help you determine which of their business accounts you need for your small business or team. You might already know, of course, but this activity might help you think about your business's needs, which isn't a bad thing.
Next, you'll set up your custom email address for yourself and your team members. You can also create a standard business email account and add individual team members later.
Using a Google Workspace partner to help you get setup
If you and your team aren't the most tech-savvy group and need some help getting set up, then Google offers the services of an official Google Workspace IT partner to help you out.
Migrating your existing email accounts and webpage(s)
You can bring your old email accounts and custom URLs to Google Workspace. As part of the setup process, Google will ask you to enter your URL and previous email address to bring over.
Once you've set up your account, you'll have access to your Google Admin page, where you do things like:
- Add team members
- Manage your billing information
- Install third-party apps
- View reports
- Contact support
- And more
We like how easy it is to add new team members and integrate the reports with our other productivity tools. It's also a great snapshot of how much a small company or business is growing.
Honestly, in terms of the robustness offered by Google Workspace, the only real competitor at the moment is Microsoft 365 for Business, which runs about the same in terms of price and offerings. It's obviously a good choice if your small business plans to use mostly Windows-based computers and laptops. It's also a better choice for mid-range businesses running things like SAP.
Slack has been drawing many away from Google Currents, which is part of the Workspace package. Currents still has some catching up to do in terms of integration and user-interfacing. What we've found, however, is that using Slack in tandem with Google Workspace proves to be a great option for most remote teams and small businesses.
Lastly, we want to mention Basecamp, a nonprofit that can serve as a great internal communication manager. Basecamp works best for small teams (less than 20) and really shines as a way to connect remote teams. It has features like internal chatting, messaging, data storage, calendar, reminders, due dates, etc. It does not come with a custom email address, however, or video chat capability. For those features, you'll still want a Google Workspace account.