Using Google Workspace as a remote collaboration tool

The Queer Heritage and Collections Network (QHCN) was founded in May 2020 to increase the understanding of, access to and engagement with LGBTQ+ heritage, and has more than 70 institutional members across the UK. The network has used Google Workspace products Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Forms as a remote collaboration tool to help share knowledge, skills, expertise and best practice across the network and to facilitate online activities with a variety of audiences.

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Photo by Diogo Fagundes on Unsplash

Using Google Workspace as a remote collaboration tool

This ‘how to use digital tools to support collaboration’ guide was produced as part of the Digital Skills for Heritage’s Connected Heritage programme.

1. Project background

The Queer Heritage and Collections Network (QHCN) is a UK-wide Subject Specialist Network that provides training, networking and peer support to people working with LGBTQ+ collections and histories. We support galleries, libraries, archives and museums that are developing public programming bringing LGBTQ+ histories and themes to the fore.

The primary objective of this project is to set up a network to share knowledge, skills, expertise and best practice across the heritage sector regarding national and regional heritage sites and collections that reveal LGBTQ+ histories in the UK.

The aim of the network is to increase the understanding of LGBTQ+ heritage, and access to and engagement with it.


2. Users and needs

The Network offer includes several levels of engagement that include regular workshops and annual symposia, co-produced by the Network founding members together with a wide variety of collaborators and freelancers.

The members and collaborators working on QHCN activities are both geographically and professionally diverse. Additionally, virtually all activities promoted by the Network have a digital component. As such, the Network required a shared, easy-to-access platform that can support:

  • remote collaboration tools for project managers and facilitators
  • features that can be used to facilitate online activities with a variety of audiences


3. Digital technology and tools

Google Workspace

The QHCN team utilised Google Workspace products. Some things we asked ourselves before choosing Google Workspace:

  • How can we make resources that can be easily co-produced as well as securely shared with our participants?
  • How can we make resources accessible?
    • Are there alternative text functionalities? ✓
    • Can documents be created with an outline/table of content and properly tagged? ✓
    • Will PDFs retain tagging and other accessible features when downloaded through Google Drive? ✓
    • Can we share links through online videoconferencing platforms so that people can access resources during live events? ✓


Create resources for event attendees and open-access documents for heritage professionals

Google Drive | Google Docs | Google Forms

One of the objectives of the Network is to share knowledge and resources for heritage professionals. Events have a strong digital component, with most activities offered in a hybrid setting (online and in-person). As such, Google Workspace products allow the team to create easily accessible documents, guides and toolkits for all attendees:

  • Folders and files can be easily shared via a single unique link
  • No account needed to access them
  • Viewing and editing permissions can be dynamically adjusted


  • The Annual QHCN Symposia offered a full-length digital programme with further resources and literature (open-access on Google Docs)
  • Feedback from these sessions is collected using Google Forms


Collaborate remotely on activity and workshop planning

Google Drive | Google Docs | Google Sheets

QHCN events and activities are often planned by members working in different organisations. Google Drive offers an online platform to collaborate during the planning stages of these activities.

Example: For the QHCN Annual Symposium 2022, the planning team used Google Docs and Sheets to work on a co-produced tour about ‘Queering Collections at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery’.

  • The tour plan was co-written on Google Docs
  • A shared list of outstanding tasks was shared via Google Sheets
  • Additional resources and PDFs were shared through Google Drive


Cross-organisational management of expenses, budgets, reports and other internal documents

Google Drive | Google Docs | Google Sheets

Internal documents are also managed through Google Drive:

  • Reporting information for evaluators (End of Project Report) is shared via Google Drive
  • The main budget is managed on Google Sheets to ensure up-to-date communication with the project budget holder (National Trust)
  • Project collaborators keep track of smaller event budgets and expenses via Google Sheets



Google Workspace products: Basic plan – Free / 100GB storage: £1.59/month


4. Key learnings

Online security

We had to make sure that all user accounts within the Network would regularly review their security options, including multiple-factor authentication (compulsory for Google account users).

File sharing

It was essential to ensure files and folders were shared correctly, using different sharing options for: internal documents; co-produced planning files; and publicly available folder and files.

Legal compliance

When gathering information from our participants we ensured that all surveys and feedback forms complied with GDPR and contained a privacy policy.


5. Useful links

More help here

Four people sitting on a stage being filmed and with an audience.

Connected Heritage – unlocking the power of collaboration using digital tools

The Digital Skills for Heritage’s Connected Heritage programme was set up to explore how digital tools can help solve some of the challenges organisations experience when collaborating with each other. In this Reflect, Share, Inspire breakout session recording, John Coburn gives an overview of the programme and is joined by Lucy Hinnie from Wikimedia and Cesare Cuzzola from the Queer Heritage and Collections Network, who share their learning and experience of the programme.

Published: 2023

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Using Google Workspace as a remote collaboration tool (2023) by Queer Heritage and Collections Network supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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