Today's society is one where it's increasingly common for team members to collaborate from different countries, continents and time zones instead only different rooms in an office. They use a variety of tools to engage in such cross-border collaboration, and G Suite is arguably one of the most common options.
G Suite, which Google designed to help teams stay productive, has features that help people remain in touch from wherever they are, and some of them are especially advantageous for distributed teams.
G Suite, data storage in the Google Cloud and the GDPR
In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect for all people living in European Union (EU) countries or companies that market to or work with individuals in the EU. It gives EU citizens control over their personal data and how it is used. The GDPR states that relevant data can be stored anywhere in the world as long as the place has data protection and privacy standards equivalent to the GDPR.
Not surprisingly, when companies and individuals began getting ready for the GDPR implementation, they wondered if G Suite is GDPR-compliant. Google confirmed within its terms and conditions that, as long as you agree to the terms of using their Google Cloud, G Suite is a GDPR-compliant product even if your information is on servers outside of the European Union.
You can choose a data region
Although G Suite is compliant with GDPR despite the physical location of the data, you still may wish to choose a storage region for the data. One common scenario is if your internal requirements necessitate storing data in a particular region. G Suite has a feature that lets you choose the desired storage region.
If you have a G Suite Business, Enterprise or Drive Enterprise account, you can select a data storage location in either the United States or Europe. Moreover, administrative privileges let people choose one data region for the whole company or choose different ones for specific people or teams.
Before assigning a data region for a particular group of people, you need to add an organizational unit. Then, move users to that unit and apply the settings.
From the administrator interface, select Company Profile > Profile. Then, click Show More and Data Regions. Then, you can either select an organizational unit from the area on the left or apply the data region to everyone by choosing your top-level organization.
Choose either No Preference, United States or Europe for your data region depending on the company's needs and the locations of remote team members.
Four reasons to choose a data region
Google advises that the data region you pick may result in increased latency for users that are furthest away from that area. As such, delays may happen when team members from different regions edit documents in real-time or share documents with other colleagues outside of the data region.
If your remote workers often travel internationally, it's worth thinking about how the selected data region could affect their use of G Suite when they are on the road.
Here are four reasons to use G Suite and secure your data with data regions.
1. Allows administrators to track data movement
Google representatives wrote a blog post that went into more detail about why the data region selection feature provides benefits for companies with remote workers. For example, when the owner of a file moves to another organizational unit, all the corresponding information gets transferred too. Plus, this movement does not impact collaborators' access to the material, which keeps productivity high.
Then, if a new team member joins the organization and starts using G Suite, their data automatically moves to the correct location depending on the policies associated with their organizational unit. That automated aspect frees administrators from engaging in manual tasks that slow down their workflows and the new employee's onboarding process.
There is also a dedicated section in the administrator dashboard that allows authorized parties to keep track of the data transfer as it moves to different data regions. This information gives peace of mind by removing the mystery behind the migration progress and indicates when it is likely to finish. So, if a company superior asks a G Suite administrator to give an update about a specific transfer to a new data region, the administrator can quickly get the information and report back.
When hiring remote workers, some managers are concerned that it'll be harder to control data security and access than if they only hired workers for on-site work. The robust data transfer feature facilitate the process of choosing a data region and simplifying the need to align with company data practices while being mindful of GDPR compliance.
2. Supports secure third-party app integration
Now that you knowhow G Suite gives you data region choices and is GDPR-compliant, it's time to look at other ways that G Suite supports remote teams by enabling them to work with maximum efficiency. As a start, G Suite integrates with third-party apps, for example, PipelineDeals or draw.io. With draw.io you can securely collaborate on diagrams in context in Google’s Cloud office suite. Your data will be stored within your selected data region.
This integration of processes and features via third-party apps lets you work more smoothly than you would when having to log into multiple apps to perform the same tasks. Plus, Google has added the ability to whitelist apps and let administrators see which third-party apps use company data and for what purposes. Administrators can decide only to permit vetted and trusted apps, those that ensure any data they work with is stored within the data region.
3. Cuts down on time-consuming tasks
Communication can be challenging for remote workers. Team members working across the miles cannot walk across a room or pop their heads into adjoining offices to ask their colleagues questions. However, since G Suite has a host of tools that boost collaboration, such as Hangouts and Docs, it's often easier for people to get simple questions answered or make edits to documents without sending emails first. And you can feel secure that this data stays in your selected region.
When an American retailer called Finish Line started using G Suite, it had more than 14,000 employees and 1,000 locations around the country. Representatives say the move to G Suite reduced emails between executive team members and in-store staff by 90 percent. Plus, in the first year that it used G Suite, Finish Line already had approximately two million files on Google Drive, including nearly 100,000 shared ones.
Built-in Google Apps help people get things done, whether that means managing tasks or shifting information from a departing team member's account to the account of their successor. Since G Suite has such fantastic collaboration tools and allows administrators to exercise appropriate amounts of control over them, teams can accomplish great things despite the distance.
4. Includes mobile management
If an organization has remote workers, it likely allows those employees to access material over mobile devices. G Suite developers realized that when it offered mobile management capabilities within the platform.
For example, you can require remote team members to set up passwords and two-factor authentication on their gadgets and even specify the minimum password strength. There are also numerous controls to specify what notifications people see on locked screens or the settings used for specific apps, such as Safari.
Applying the mobile management features is an excellent step to take, especially since remote team members may not ever interact with the IT team face-to-face, but they handle data associated with their companies that could be sensitive.
G Suite caters to the needs of remote workers and their companies
This overview shows why G Suite is so helpful for companies that depend on remote teams, especially in an era where GDPR is in effect, and other location-based privacy laws are likely on the horizon.
Whether remote workers and their employers have not yet used G Suite, or want to work with new features, the platform is a feature-rich option that will streamline workflows, improve collaboration, and make distance-related obstacles nearly nonexistent.
About the author
Kayla Matthews is a professional development and productivity writer, focusing on tech solutions, apps and gadgets.