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Google One vs Google Workspace: what’s the difference?

If you’re trying to choose the right Google platform to run your SME, you could be forgiven for losing track of who does what. The number of rebrands and product launches from Google in recent years has been dizzying. From its corporate restructure in 2015 to the most recent design updates to its service icons, it’s not always easy to follow. So to help you decide, let’s break down the differences and benefits of Google One vs Google Workspace.

Introducing Google One

Google One is a relatively new subscription offer, launched in 2018 and aimed specifically at consumers. Anyone who uses Gmail, Google Drive or Google Photos is automatically placed on the ‘free’ plan and provided with 15 GB of storage.

They have a number of additional cloud storage options for their files, emails and photos, paid monthly by subscription. Costs run from £1.59/month for 100 GB, all the way up to £7.99/month for 2 TB of storage.

Paid subscribers can add family members to their plans and get access to improved tech support. They also get little extras like hotel discounts and cashback and credits in the Google Play Store.

Can Google One work for a business?

If it’s aimed at consumers, then why include Google One in our comparison for businesses? Well, because plenty of sole traders already work absolutely fine with even just the free plan.

You can only use a standard email address on the Gmail domain (i.e. businessname@gmail.com). But if you already have a website that includes email hosting then it’s pretty simple to add it via Gmail’s settings. You can then change the default, so you always send emails as yourname@businessname.com.

It’s possible to organise your time using Google Calendar and save your files on Google Drive. You can also video conference via Meet, message using Chat and plan your day using Tasks. And you’re able to collaborate on jobs using Google’s free rivals to Microsoft Office, like Docs (Word), Sheets (Excel), Keep (OneNote) and Slides (PowerPoint).

Of course there are some limitations. You don’t have direct access to the raw storage made available under Google One. You can only use it to save files using Gmail, Drive and Photos and you only have control of a single account (yours).

That means that if your business grows and you start taking people on, it becomes impractical to expand your setup through Google alone.

One major drawback is the fact that Google is free to advertise directly to you on its Google One platforms. And it can use the information and data in those accounts to hone their adverts to perfection.

In short, as with most things that are now free online, you are paying with your privacy.

Google Workspace: the G-Suite rebrand

Google Workspace is the latest incarnation of G-Suite Business, which was first known as Google Apps. Designed to rival Microsoft Office 365, it is charged on a subscription basis, including enterprise plans. Its Business Starter plan is the cheapest, offering 30 GB cloud storage per employee at £4.14 per user, per month. But really, it can be used by organisations of any size, from the modest to the global.

Businesses are able to create custom emails on the platform using their website domains. And every Workspace plan includes all of Google’s free-to-use apps, some of which are lesser known compared to the ones mentioned earlier. This includes Google Forms for creating surveys, and Google Sites for designing simple websites with the option of buying a custom domain.

Google Apps Script allows anyone who knows JavaScript to build add-ons for many of its services. And Jamboard offers an interactive whiteboard collaboration tool.

But Workspace does offer other, exclusive, apps, generally aimed at helping larger businesses. One such offering is Google Currents, designed to compete with Microsoft’s Sharepoint and Yammer platforms for internal communication and file sharing.

The Work Insights app is useful if you want to see how well your team has integrated Workspace into their working day. And there are other enterprise-class options for things like archiving, mobile device management, and the search and retrieval of information in the cloud.

Security and privacy are also far more robust and customisable in Workspace. Not only will you not see any adverts, but Google won’t scan the information in your accounts either.

Which to choose: Google One vs Google Workspace

If you’re a one-person-band, then Google One is a great way to start quickly and with minimal risk. There’s no reason why you can’t run a small business using the free tools that Google provides. And with cloud storage costing less than £2.50 for up to 200 GB of data, it’s simple, cheap and manageable. As long as it’s just you.

But even if you’re a relatively small business, Workspace gives you a level of control that isn’t possible with Google One. Its access management allows you to add and administer accounts of additional employees and choose which apps they can use. As well as giving them a custom email address, it’s also simple to adjust if they change roles or leave the business.

So really, the choice comes down to scale. If you never intend to grow beyond going solo, feel free to stick to Google One. But if you have bigger plans, your hand will be eventually forced to move beyond the basics.

You will want better end-point management to keep your devices secure. You’ll need more storage per user. And you’ll have to prove that you’re managing everyone’s data responsibly – from your customers to your employees.

At that point, Google Workspace is a really robust option. And in many instances, it really out-performs platforms like Office 365.

However, that additional functionality also adds a significant level of complexity. It’s not always easy to optimise these platforms to maintain the right balance of security and productivity. So we would always recommend speaking to a professional (hi!).

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