The vacation is going well, it has been slightly relaxing, and I’m getting the opportunity to develop more remote processes. One of the best mobile tools for this vacation has been Google. Specifically, I’m talking about the platform of tools available with my Google Apps account.
I told you (and here) about my experience with Google Drive. While it falls fatally short of some of the MS Word tools, Google Docs (the word processing portion) has been a life saver, enabling me to work at the in-laws house 1,500 miles away. I love the collaboration ability, and namely, the ability to work together on a document at the same time. The joint work feature is something absent (at least to me) in MS Word. We drafted and revised our response, together, and were able to chat about problems with the response brief. I could see my colleague’s real time edits, and criticize them as we typed. Google Docs also gave me offline access, so I could edit the document as I relaxed around the house, and sync the edits when I went back online.
I also gained a new appreciation for one of Google’s most recent introductions, Google+ Hangouts. In case you’re not aware of what this is, Hangouts give you a Skype-like experience meshed with advanced video conferencing capabilities. Theoretically, you can “hangout” with 10 colleagues, though I only hosted a one-on-one hangout with my office. One of the advantages of a Google Hangout over a Skype call is that 10 people can collaborate for free (US and Canada). The Google+ Hangout feature worked well on the laptop, but even more helpful was that the program worked well on my tablet and smartphone. I ended up hosting a hangout at a local park while my kids played. I think mobile lawyers will benefit from the hangout more than they’ll initially imagine.
Hangouts give you the ability to connect and collaborate remotely. When used in conjunction with Google Drive, I was able to maximize our conversation and edits, without compromising the quality or productivity of our work together. I also found it helpful to be able to view several pieces of mail and quickly answer questions any of my colleagues had about the documents. The Hangout was much more productive than my previous method which involved scanning documents, sorting through the scanned mail, and relaying important versus unimportant tidbits.
As technology advances, lawyers will have many more opportunities to leave the office and keep up with the ramble back “home.” The problem, as always, will be making sure the office away from the office doesn’t suffocate the vacation.
Want to go farther with ways to use Hangouts? Check out this post.