Google Hangouts... A Simple Alternative

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time showing our new demo environment of the Google Experience for Senior Living. It’s been great! Our clients love it and the conversation always leads to identifying new and creative ways to leverage the Google ecosystem.

One major opportunity that seems to come up in virtually every conversation is how to utilize a product like Google Hangouts rather than the traditional video conferencing solution. We generally see a number of disparate technologies cobbled together to create what is often a costly and ineffective solution.

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar:

Your team of 6 enters the conference room with the intention of facilitating a meeting with two other teammates that need to call in remotely. Two teammates are huddled around a laptop, a TV and a video camera trying to figure out the best way to share content, until they eventually give up and call IT for help. Another two team members are sorting through Dropbox and the morning email chain to find the latest version of a document. You are tasked with texting the teleconference passcode to remote team members and sending out that document that your other teammates just found. Finally, your last team member can’t seem to figure out why the WebEx plugin won’t install in the web browser. “Call IT back!” You’ve now lost 15 minutes on setup alone. This is equivalent to 2 hours of wasted time across 8 team members.

Crazy, isn’t it? Unfortunately, this is the typical protocol many of us face. The good news...we have a much simpler solution, Google Hangouts.

Here are 5 reasons why we love it:

1. Easy Access: Just set up a meeting and share a link, that's it. No worrying about whether teammates, partners, or family members have the right account or plug-ins. With a fast, lightweight interface and smart participant management, 30 person video calls are a breeze.

2. Seamless Integration: With deep G Suite integrations, you can join meetings directly from your calendar event or email invite. All the important event details are right there when you need them, whether you’re joining from a laptop, phone, or conference room.

3. No Third-Party Software/Hardware: Every meeting will have its dial-in phone number created for each meeting, giving users a great experience even if you’re on the road without wifi or data. All you need is a smart phone, tablet or computer with a camera.

4. LiveStream Capabilities: Would you like to broadcast your session live via YouTube with the ability to save and share content later? No problem. Hangouts integrates directly with YouTube for an incredibly rich experience for both presenters and participants.

5. Encouraged Collaboration: Drive greater efficiency with teammates using the native apps like Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. Google is also introducing Jamboard in Q2/17. Jamboard is a digital whiteboard that allows collaborating using intelligent object and handwriting recognition all within Hangouts.

Still wondering how you might utilize Google Hangouts in a Senior Living setting? Let me share the most popular user scenarios: team meetings, leadership town hall events, new hire orientation, informal manager checkpoints, role-based training, cross-community activities, e.g. cooking classes and resident/family video calls.

We are always surprised to see our client’s reaction. “Really? That’s all you need?” Yes, it’s really that simple and affordable. I’m a minimalist. I like to keep things simple. Hangouts is that and more.

What is your take? Have you tried Hangouts? Do you have other ways to potentially use it? Please share?