Google Chat will now let you hide from your needy boss

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(Image credit: Google Chat)
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Google Chat (opens in new tab) users will no longer have to put up with distracting messages if they don’t want to, thanks to a new feature that can now set their status as ‘away,’ making it easier to focus on being productive.

“When you set your status to away, you will show as offline to others, even when you’re active, helping you to focus solely on your work uninterrupted,” a Google Workspace update confirmed (opens in new tab). “For domains that still use chat in classic Hangouts, disabling the 'Show when you were last active' setting will now show you as away in Chat.”

The new ‘away’ feature is being rolled out now for Gmail (opens in new tab) web users and within the Gmail iOS app. Google has stated that it will be coming to the Android version “soon”. Setting an individual’s status as ‘away’ is easily achieved. Users simply select that option within the presence menu in Gmail.

Too busy to chat

The transition from Google Hangouts to Google Chat (opens in new tab) is part of an overhaul of Google’s business productivity tools. Google Workspace (opens in new tab), announced last month, should deliver a more integrated experience for all users of Google’s software, whether they are based in the private, education or non-profit spheres.

“Chat is offered to Google Workspace customers at no additional cost,” the Google Workspace blog (opens in new tab) explained. “Upload items from Drive, collaborate on Docs, Sheets, or Slides, join online meetings with Meet, or use Google’s powerful search to look up room members, past conversations and shared files. Drive bot lets you know when files are shared with you, comments are made or when people request access to your docs. And Meet bot integrates directly with Calendar to schedule meetings for you.”

As more individuals are forced to work (and socialize) remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communication tools will become increasingly important. As the new feature from Google Chat shows, however, so too will the ability to get away from those messages.

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Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.