Wall Street Journal, The Five Most Dreaded Words at the Office: ‘Let’s Start a Google Doc’:
Shared documents are a workplace minefield of performance anxiety and awkward interactions.
More than three billion people use Google Workspace products like Docs and Sheets, according to the company. Many of them seem to dread it.
The workplace ritual tends to go something like this: You’re minding your own business, trying to write a proposal or plug numbers into Google Sheets, when the mood shifts. A small circle materializes near the top of the screen. The avatar belongs to a colleague, or worse, your boss. The discomfort can be heightened by the appearance of any number of anonymous animals, which Google auto-assigns to people who open a Doc without being signed into their account: anteater, wombat, quokka.
The cursor starts flashing. Questions abound: What are this person’s intentions? Will they scroll down far enough to see the garbled notes at the bottom that you haven’t deleted? Why on earth are they online at 1 a.m. on a Saturday? And what is a quokka? ...
Google says in a written statement: “The future is flexible, and the value of Docs means that people can work and collaborate together from anywhere—when it works for them—despite any friction people may feel about collaborating with a colleague or an anonymous armadillo.”
Vishnu Sivaji, group product manager for Google Workplace, which includes Google Docs, says the company recognized during the pandemic that many people were working with colleagues they had never met face to face, and might be meeting for the first time in a document’s comments.
In recent months, the product team has added features to reduce tension and increase human connection, including the ability to leave emojis in place of a comment.