4 Ways You Can Use Google Hangouts to Optimize Efficiency Need to use the collaborative work tool? These quick tips can help.

By John Rampton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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You are most likely familiar with Google products. The tech giant's search engine handles over 5 billion searches a day. Gmail boasts around 1.5 billion monthly active users.

A variety of apps in Google Drive round out the tools you need for business productivity.

But one of the lesser-known Google applications could prove to be very useful during this time: Google Hangouts. This is Google's instant-messaging and video-call system, used for connecting businesses and individuals. As more and more businesses transition to remote work, project management software is essential to ensure communication remains strong. Google Hangouts is one of these platforms you can use.

This app has two counterparts: Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Hangouts Chat is specifically for instant messaging, while Hangouts Meet handles conference calls. These are both included in Google's G Suite package, a service that includes all their products tailored to businesses. It costs users $6 per month. You can experiment with a 14-day free trial to connect your team for the next two weeks and decide if this is the right choice for you. The following are some things to keep in mind as you familiarize yourself with what Google Hangouts has to offer:

1. Use Calendar to schedule meetings.

Apps built for productivity do their best to avoid unneeded steps with the goal of saving you time. Google Hangouts does this by allowing you to enter a conference call directly from a calendar event. Schedule a meeting in your Google Calendar or your Calendar app and sync it up with Google Hangouts. One click from your calendar reminder and you're in the call, no need to bounce from app to app.

2. Take advantage of Google's coronavirus response.

Google is looking to help businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak by helping them connect through their G Suite platform. If you are reading this before July 1, 2020, you can take advantage of Google's offer if you are a G Suite customer. These added benefits are part of a large package that can be purchased but is being offered as a free upgrade for the next few months. This coronavirus response for businesses includes:

  • Free access to advanced Google Hangouts Meet
  • Expanded meeting capacity for video calls, allowing for up to 250 participants
  • The option to record meetings and store them in your Google Drive
  • Using a domain to live stream for up to 100,000 viewers

If your team has been using G Suite, these added features are great for giving you more work capacity during this crazy time. If you have been considering a move to G Suite, now is the perfect time to make the jump and enjoy the added benefits while they are available.

Related: 6 Tricks You Need to Know About Zoom

3. Dial-in numbers can be used for meetings.

When using Google Hangouts through the G Suite, a dial-in number is created for every meeting. This allows people with weak or no internet to join in a call. The impromptu change to remote work may have put members of your team in situations where joining an online call is difficult. Some homes are not equipped with the internet connection needed to hold a seamless video call with dozens of others. Choppy audio feed can cause you to miss important details, and repeating information is time lost. Joining in these calls straight from your phone can help you ensure you don't miss anything.

This is also helpful for someone who happens to be driving at the time a meeting is scheduled. With flexible schedules or different time zones for already remote companies, it can be difficult to find a time that works for everyone. Having the flexibility of joining a group call at almost any time and place helps to make that work more easily.

Related: 25 Tech Tools, Tricks and Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Chromebook

4. Use Hangouts Chat for 24/7 communication.

For details that don't need to be worked out over a call or meeting, use Hangouts Chat to stay connected. The service offers group and direct messaging, making it easy to relay information and ask questions at any time. The singular chat platform centralizes communication and helps your team stay productive and efficient.

Chat rooms or channels can be created to serve specific functions. For example, your marketing team can have their own channel that is separate from your sales team. This keeps relevant information and discussion together and avoids the chaos that a single group text would be.

All your other Google products are integrated into the Hangouts Chat system. Files from Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides can all be shared directly to the chat. The searching capability that made Google famous in the first place is implemented in Hangouts Chat, allowing you to search for any information in each chat room you might need. There is also a "Meet bot,' which autogenerates meetings for you.

Google Hangouts is available on desktop and mobile, so you can access it from anywhere. Being able to always stay connected with your team allows you to effectively manage them and provides instant communication for maximum productivity. If you're looking to motivate your remote team, consider using these user-friendly features.

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John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

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