Having a go-to virtual workspace is crucial for every business in this day and age. Google G Suite has a vast collection of tools to help people work and collaborate better. The one tool that was missing until recently was a communication platform. With a revamped design and interface, Google has launched Google Hangouts for work. With this platform, teams can easily communicate with each other, share files, and ensure a smooth workflow. But, understanding how to use Google Hangouts requires the right resources!
With this guide, we will help you understand how to use Google Hangouts for your team chat, different features available for teams, and how you can connect, collaborate, and get work done efficiently.
What is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is a work communication platform for teams of all sizes. Similar to Slack and Microsoft Teams, Hangouts is Google’s team chat application that enables messaging, file sharing, collaboration, and video conferencing for teams anywhere in the world. It consists of 2 robust verticals:
1. Google Hangouts Chat
Google Chat is a messaging platform designed for teams to work in one place. You can set up group conversations, send direct messages, and thread conversations. It provides multi-device support, integrates with your favorite work apps, and enables video conferencing. This is your one-stop solution to work management.
2. Google Hangouts Meet
Google Meet allows you to host secure video meetings, with features like screen sharing, recording, and multi-device support available to help you communicate better.
Meet works right within your gChat. You can schedule and launch a meeting within the room or direct message you want to.
Why do you need Google Hangouts?
An online workspace helps employees to perform better at work. Having a commonplace to discuss work can help your team work faster, reduce dependencies, and increase efficiency. In fact, using a team chat platform has been proven to reduce the number of emails by 32% and meetings by 23%, boosting productivity.
Such an integrated communication channel is especially important with so many teams working remotely. You need your team to be in sync with changes happening and employees need to be able to connect instantly. Emails get cumbersome and many people end up missing important emails among their cluttered inbox. Since regular communication is essential, companies must adopt instant messaging to keep their ship running.
Many companies use WhatsApp as an informal channel of communication so that they can talk back and forth in real-time across the team, something that is not possible via just sending emails. This is a casual messaging app to connect with friends and family. Using this platform for work means that your team will be highly distracted. You need a platform purpose-built for teams to discuss and collaborate on work that prioritizes security, privacy, and administrative control. This is where Google Hangouts shines over more consumer-facing platforms like Line, Telegram, Skype, and others.
How does Google Hangouts work?
Google Hangouts works just like other team chat platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams. Here’s a quick example of how a team can use Google Hangouts for their work:
- First, set up the GChat workspace for the team.
- Once set up, add rooms like “general”, “dev-team”, “design-team”, “marketing-team”, and more to keep conversations more structured.
- Add team members to specific rooms.
- Within these rooms, team members can create threads for different topics. Follow up on a specific topic can be done by replying to a thread. You can start a new thread to initiate a new conversation.
- Team members can also send direct messages when there is any discussion that isn’t relevant to the entire team.
- Integrate with third-party apps like Asana, Hubspot, Typeform, etc.
Using Google Hangouts Features
Google Hangouts Chat has some very unique features that make it a cut above other work communication platforms. Let’s look at these features and how they work:
Rooms are structured chatrooms with 2 or more team members added. These rooms serve a specific purpose. They consist of team members from a specific department or members working on a specific project.
Within Google chat rooms, your messages are viewed as threads. Threads are created based on a specific topic/discussion. Any messages about a specific discussion can be added by replying to the relevant thread.
If you want to discuss something new, you can start a new thread within the room. This way, you can easily structure your conversations and easily browse through them later on.
2. Direct messages
You can also send direct messages to your team members. You can either start a conversation with one team member or create a group and send a message to the group.
Direct messages allow you to have non-important conversations that aren’t relevant to the room. This way, you won’t be spamming your rooms but you will still be able to get the necessary information you need.
3. Integrated G Suite
Your Google Hangouts Chat works seamlessly with G Suite products— Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Sheets, and more. When communicating through chat with your team, you can share your files through Google Drive or schedule meetings on the Calendar right within the chat.
You won’t have to switch between tabs or open a new tab to access a file or schedule a meeting with Hangouts Chat. Instead, you can perform this function within your messaging interface.
When learning how to use Google Hangouts, one great functionality that many users often miss out on is the search. The search functionality on Chats is excellent, allowing you to filter your search to specific details.
You can search for specific messages and files by keywords based on the person who sent them, the room or direct message it was sent in, and even the type of file it was— images, videos, links, docs, and more. This search is sure to save you time when you’re trying to recall a specific discussion or looking for a file shared with you.
5. Video meetings
Google Hangouts Meet works right within Hangouts Chat to let you set up video conferencing with your team. With Meet, your work calls are highly secure and encrypted. It has permission requirements so that employees who want to join the call need to be admitted in by the host.
How do I make a video call on Google Meet?
There are 2 ways to schedule a video call through Google Meet.
- Visit the Meet page and click on the ‘Start a meeting’ button.
- On your gChat room or direct message, click on the ‘video call’ icon to start a meeting.
Here are a few features within Google video chat that help teams conduct video meetings effortlessly,
- Screen sharing
Participants of the meeting can share their screen with the rest of the members and easily demonstrate the work. This feature especially helps teams to conduct tutorials, onboarding, and collaborate on work without restrictions.
- Meeting recording
You can record your meetings for future playback. This is especially helpful for teams who conduct daily standups and product discussions. Recording the meeting can help you document the work and avoid missing crucial details.
- Multi-device support
Your team members can join the call from any device – desktop or mobile. In fact, no matter what OS they’re making use of – including Linux and other platforms, joining a meeting would never be a problem.
- Calendar sync
Meet integrates with G Suite and so, when a meeting is set up, it sends an email invite and adds a Calendar event automatically. All your meeting details are recorded on your Calendar so that you can see what meetings you have scheduled and join through your email or Calendar.
6. Third-party integrations
Google Hangouts Chats integrates with many third-party apps. You can connect these apps through Zapier. This way, you can ensure that your other work software is in sync with Hangouts Chat and they can be accessed through your go-to work platform without hassle. This helps you simplify the way you work, ensuring you don’t have to switch between tabs every few minutes.
Here are a few popular work apps you can connect to Hangouts Chat:
- Facebook Messenger: Receive messages sent to your Facebook page right within Hangouts Chat.
- Trello: Get notifications of any changes within Trello, from new cards assigned to new boards to new comments on your card within Chat.
- Hubspot: Receive notifications when new companies, deals, form submissions, contacts, emails, engagements, calendar tasks, etc are added.
- Airtable: Get notified when new records are created, updated, etc.
- Salesforce: Notifications are sent when a new message is sent, new records are created, new attachment is created, and other CRM-related tasks are triggered.
- Twitter: Receive a notification when a user likes a tweet, when someone follows you, when someone creates a tweet containing a specific search term, to name a few.
- Freshdesk: Get notifications when a new ticket, new contact, and new ticket note is created. You can also create a company, forum category, and forum topic for Freshdesk right through Chat.
- Typeform: Receive notifications when a form is submitted. You can also create a message for Typeform through Hangouts Chat.
7. Invite external participants or guests
If you work with freelancers or temporary contractors, you can add them as external participants. When these external users are added, they’ll be invited instead of directly added. Once they accept the invitation, they can interact within the room they are invited to. They won’t have the ability to add new members or make changes to rooms.
8. Multi-device support
The best part about Google Hangouts is that you can connect with your team from any device and platform. You can connect to your team’s workspace through your computer, phone or tablet, or using a web browser or the native Hangouts Chat app.
9. Multilingual support
Google Hangouts Chat supports 28 languages, enabling you to collaborate with your team despite language barriers. This is especially helpful for remote teams that hire employees from different parts of the world.
Step by Step Guide to Using Google Hangouts for Work
If you’re considering Google Hangouts, we’ll help you get started! Here’s how to use Google Hangouts and set it up for your team communication:
1. Set up your Google Hangouts Chat workspace
You need to first set up your Google Hangouts Chat workspace before you can invite your team and start collaborating. Sign up and complete onboarding to Hangouts Chat. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be taken to your workspace where you can start inviting your team members and creating rooms.
2. Create rooms
Start creating rooms based on your requirements. You can create specific rooms for each department and project that your team is working on. This way, you can keep conversations separate.
How do I create a room in hangouts?
Here’s how you can create a room within your gChat workspace:
- On your gChat workspace, click on the search bar ‘Find people, rooms, bots.’
- A suggestion dropdown will open up. Click on ‘Create room.’
- Enter a name for the room and click Create.
3. Invite your colleagues
Add people to your team by clicking on the dropdown next to the name of the room. Once you’ve added your team members to the relevant rooms, you can start communicating effectively through Google Hangouts!
How do you invite someone to gChat?
Here’s how you can invite people to your gChat workspace:
- On the left sidebar of gChat, select a room.
- Click on the room name to see a dropdown. Click on ‘Add people & bots’
- Enter names of people, group or individual email addresses or bots, or select from the suggestions.
- Check or uncheck the ‘Notify people via email box’ checkbox.
- Click Send or Add.
4. Send files through the G Suite Integration
You can use the G Suite integration to easily send files from your Google Drive. Share Google Doc, Google Sheet, and other documents to collaborate right within Hangouts.
5. Use Google Hangouts Meets to start a meeting
You don’t have to open Hangouts Meets to start a video meeting, This option is instead available right within your rooms and direct messages on Hangouts Chat. When typing a message, you will see the ‘video’ icon. You can click on that icon to start a video meeting instantly.
Further Reading: 5 Zoom Alternatives for Safe Work Video Conferencing
6. Set up rules and best practices for communication
With any platform your team uses, you need to set a few basic rules on how to communicate and collaborate. When setting these rules, you can consider these ideas:
- Give your employees a quick walkthrough of basic features after you set up the workspace.
- Encourage them to integrate with their commonly used third-party apps.
- Encourage your team to install the Google Hangouts Chat app on their laptop and phones.
- Let employees know when they should use rooms and when should they use direct messages. This can help you to avoid spamming.
- Set up a room for team announcements. Here, different departments can talk about their big achievements.
7. Configure notification settings
Choose how you want to receive your notifications, through web push or email, and choose which types of messages you want to receive. This way, you can prioritize the most important messages and ensure you don’t miss out on urgent work.
8. Use keyboard shortcuts for gChat
You can navigate through your gChat workspace with some handy shortcuts.
Navigating between views
|Create or browse rooms||Ctrl + O||⌘ + O||Ctrl + O|
|Search||Alt + /||Option + /||Alt + /|
|Start a new DM||Ctrl + P||⌘ + P||Ctrl + P|
Navigating the sidebar
|Quick switch rooms or DMs||Ctrl + K||⌘ + K||Ctrl + K|
|Previous room or DM||↑||↑||↑|
|Next room or DM||↓||↓||↓|
|Previous unread item||Shift + ↑||Shift + ↑||Shift + ↑|
|Next unread item||Shift + ↓||Shift + ↓||Shift + ↓|
|Select room or DM||→ or Enter||→ or Enter||→ or Enter|
Navigating conversations within a room
|Focus on message||→||→||→|
|Focus on current room or DM in sidebar||← or Ctrl + Shift + K||← or ⌘ + Shift + K||← or Ctrl + Shift + K|
|Open Room menu||Ctrl + G||⌘ + G||Ctrl + G|
|Reply to current conversation||r||r||r|
|Focus on last conversation or message||Ctrl + J||⌘ + J||Ctrl + J|
|Start new conversation or message||Ctrl + S||⌘ + S||Ctrl + S|
Navigating messages within a conversation
|Focus on conversation||← or Esc||← or Esc||← or Esc|
|Focus on Reply box||r||r||r|
|Edit previously posted message||↑||↑||↑|
|Add a new line||Shift + Enter||Shift + Enter||Shift + Enter|
Work more efficiently with the Google Hangout app
With a virtual workspace, your team doesn’t have to worry about communication problems with each other and instead work better. Google Hangouts Chat enables instant messaging for teams, keeping your inbox clutter-free, ensuring swift responses, and helping you work quicker.
We hope this extensive guide has given you a thorough understanding of what is Google hangouts, how to use Google Hangouts, and how to work more productively with an integrated workspace and keep your communications streamlined.