Google has announced a new, free tier of its Workspace suite, Workspace Essentials Starter. Basically, it lets employees use tools like Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Chat, etc. with their colleagues without having to switch to Gmail if they already use something like Exchange or Zoho. While employees have long been able to replicate this use case with personal Google accounts, an official product for it can help with security and make it easier to manage a team of people working together.
According to Google’s blog post, users can sign up for Essentials Starter with their existing email accounts and then invite their colleagues to work with them on projects. Google offers 15GB of Drive storage for each user, which isn’t a lot of space for sharing media files, but should be able to hold plenty of text documents, slideshows, and spreadsheets. And while the plan doesn’t offer email, employees can still talk to each other via Chat and Meet.
Google says Workspace Essentials Starter is designed to “make it easy for employees to choose their own productivity tools and bring modern collaboration to work.” That seems nice for employees, but maybe a bit of a hassle for IT. if TechCrunch points out that it appears that the plan could act as some sort of Trojan horse – since it doesn’t require (or even allow) the intense administrative scrutiny that IT departments sometimes have over workplace tools, Workspace Essentials Starter could be a way to empower employees. getting used to and using Google’s tools.
According to a Google support page on the plan, teams are limited to 25 people, but any number of teams in an organization can sign up. Of course, there are also limits to what you can access with the free version – you don’t get support from Google, and Meetings and Chats all have some limitations compared to the paid Enterprise Essentials plan. Google says Essentials Starter “will roll out over several weeks and may not be available in some regions until mid-February 2022.”