Google Chat and Spaces can be used by teams of people using Google Workspace to chat among themselves.
I would have recommended Slack for my organization. As a multiplatform group chat app, it allows threaded conversations and conversation search. For many applications, it is the best tool.
In late 2022, Slack changed their terms and not only raised prices, but also locked access to any chat older than 90 days behind a paywall. This meant, for example, that a teacher and students might have used the free version of Slack for a class would lose access to chats from the start of a course before the end of a standard semester.
Google Chat Spaces, a core offering of Google Workspace, had been developed into a robust chat app by that time. It had multiplatform support, inline discussion threading, file and task sharing, along with support for @mentions to pull people into the conversation. And even better, many organizational editions of Workspace support discoverable spaces – when you enter one space you see icons of all other spaces in the organization.
We recommend Google Chat Spaces first to any organization that uses Google Workspace for chat. There are four main categories of core capabilities, as described below.
You can access chat spaces by going to the ‘Chat’ icon in Gmail.
Google Chat Spaces are prominently featured in Gmail on the web and in its app for Android and iOS. When you’re using Gmail on the web, it’ll show up in your left-hand menu of favorites, below Chat and Meet (Figure A). The ‘Spaces’ tab will also be close at hand when you’re using Gmail’s app for your smartphone device-just tap the icon that sits between Chat and Meet. Doing this reduces the need to switch tabs or apps to work with your various team discussions and tasks, which is a time-saver for busy people.
Google Chat spaces are especially useful for internal and external members.
Create a separate space to chat about each major project you’re working on. Add members and give them access to the chat space. If appropriate, add people from outside of your organization so that they can join the chat. Discoverable Google Chat Spaces can serve as central information and discussion channels for your organization.
For example, in a Google Chat Spaces organization, an administrator has the power to change permissions for Spaces, depending on what you (the administrator) want. For instance, the admin can choose whether people of the organization may create or join Spaces with people outside of the organization.
The administrator can also configure default settings like restricted or discoverable, and define target audiences such as suggested user sets for people to share some space with. To access these options, go to the Admin console > Apps > Google Workspace > Google Chat settings and make your selections.
Chat in Google Chat Spaces to respond, collaborate, and meet with your team in real-time.
One of the most popular features of Google Chat Spaces is chat. Google Chat supports threaded-chats, where a reply will adhere to the thread that can make it easier to understand the discussion. Google Chat has emoji reactions and GIF support, too (Figure C, lower right box).
Spaces can help you manage your tasks and files in the secure environment of your company. Just create a task and assign it to someone from your space, and they’ll mark it done when they’re done. You can share any file using Google Docs, Sheets or Slides with a space, which will prompt you for the appropriate permissions for that file (for example, contributor would be able to comment on the file, while editor would be able to edit).
Google Chat Spaces also provide a link to send an invitation on Google Calendar, so you can jump over to their chat when you need them. They also include the option to start a video conference via Google Meet with anyone in your space.
Search in Google Chat Spaces and Google Hangouts
One of the many reasons why Google Chat Spaces could be a good option for your organization is that it’s very easy to search. Just type “email” into Gmail, for example, and all sorts of filtering options will appear. This way you can narrow down your results, across your email, chat, and space messages- not just in one channel!
Use Gmail search to find your conversations. You can search for chats or emails that were sent to you through Google Chat or Gmail. Having all your conversations in one system will make it easier to retrieve and refer back to discussions with a future search.