Spanish gamechanger BQ builds a new way of working with Google Apps

Editor's note: Today we hear from Adan Muñoz, co-founder and Director of Operations at BQ, a producer of smartphones, tablets, e-readers, 3D printers and educational robots based in Madrid, Spain. Founded in 2010, BQ now has a global team of more than 1,300 people at offices in Germany, France, Sweden, Russia, Italy and the UK. See how Google Apps for Work has played a central role in BQ’s rapid growth and unique work culture right from the start.

We don’t just want our customers to use our devices, we want them to understand what they’re using. That’s the core idea behind all of our products, whether it’s our “flatpack” 3D printer, our customisable smartphone or Zowi, our educational robot. Our goal is to get people thinking about technology, because the next great idea could come from anyone, anywhere.

With the same emphasis on engagement, we try to run BQ as a team of equals, where everyone has a voice. We know we do our best work when colleagues in design, engineering, technical, marketing and sales are free to bounce ideas off each other. But with 1,300 people at 10 offices, open communication can bring challenges. That’s why we built our business around Google Apps for Work from day one. Its forward-looking, simple and powerful tools have allowed us to shape our ideal working environment and work team.

Transparent and connected, not bureaucratic
  • Drive gives us an open central platform that everyone can access. If we receive product information from a third-party, for example, we save it in Docs for anyone in the organisation who’s interested to read and leave comments or queries. That gives us oversight and transparency so that we can avoid problems before they occur.
  • Instead of an email hierarchy of labels and folders, Gmail’s powerful search lets us find what we need in seconds on any device, and links directly to Docs on Drive and meetings on Hangouts. We don’t need to subdivide and separate projects and personnel, so teams develop more naturally.
Supercharged project management
  • Every prototype we make is run through a series of tests by different groups before teams go back to the drawing board. With Drive, all of the information from every test is immediately available, and because we only have one version of the results on Sheets and Docs, we always know we’re working from the correct files.
  • Google Apps makes it easy to coordinate teamwork. At the beginning of every project, we create a plan of action on Sheets for colleagues to keep track of progress. Rather than trade emails, now when someone wants to organise a meeting they go directly to Calendar, check someone’s availability and create a meeting, adding a link for a video call on Hangouts when they can’t meet in-person but still want that person-to-person time.
One tight team
  • Hangouts allows employees hundred of miles apart to feel that they work in one office. We use Hangouts daily to ensure maximum staff contact while saving on travel costs, video conferencing hardware, telecom bills and even time spent looking up phone numbers.
  • We keep minutes of meetings in Docs so that staff can add to the same document simultaneously and leave comments on the public document after the event.
  • Intuitive interfaces and simple administrative setup mean that when we bring on someone new, we can swiftly integrate them with our team. We even give them a Form asking where they will sit and what materials they need, so that we’re ready for their arrival ahead of time.

Our work at BQ is part of a long-term project. When we teach children how to program and design their own Zowi the robot, we’re not just teaching them basic robotics, we also want to prepare them for a future in which technology will play an ever greater role. Google is the perfect partner for that mission, with its understanding of the fast-evolving tech landscape and the constant updates to its Apps. Ultimately, our goals are aligned: we both want to give people the tools to empower themselves.