Google thinks it has a way to break the lock rivals like Microsoft have on the office landscape: let employees take (some) matters into their own hands. The company has introduced a free Workspace Essentials Starter Edition you can use just by signing up with your work email. You won't get Gmail services, but you will get access to Chat, Docs, Drive, Meet, Sheets and Slides.
There's no subtlety involved in Google's rationale. It's betting Workplace Essentials Starter will help teams improve collaboration, even if their employers use "legacy productivity tools" that weren't designed for remote and hybrid offices. To put it another way, Google is hoping you'll skip your company's old Microsoft Office suite in favor of Workspace the next time you start a project.
This might not be very persuasive if your company already relies on a cloud-based service like Microsoft 365. It's also safe to say this won't fly if your employer has strict policies on the tools you're allowed to use — your boss might not appreciate you going rogue to finish a quarterly report. Google clearly hopes at least some workers will be tempted, though, and it wouldn't be surprising if the Starter Edition leads to some companies supplementing or even replacing existing tools following demand from rank-and-file staff.