Microsoft Teams is the only platform with tailored capabilities to connect everyone in your company, from the C-suite to the firstline, in one digital workspace. Our capabilities are built for your customer support staff, IT help desk, store associates, line workers and more. We have delivered many features that are already available in your tenant today, and coming soon, several new features will provide new ways of communication and collaboration across your entire organization.
Continue reading to learn about the 10 ways Teams can unlock productivity for your shift workers. Of note, these capabilities will be made available to all Teams users.
1. Connect everyone in your organization with several options for communication
Alongside communication features such as chats, video calls and conversations organized by topic (aka channels), Walkie Talkie is a new push-to-talk experience in Teams that enables clear voice communication over the cloud, turning employee or company-owned smart phones and tablets into a walkie talkie.
This native capability consolidates the devices and apps that Firstline Workers use daily, and reduces the need for purchasing, provisioning and managing costs for IT. Walkie Talkie already works with the teams and users that you’ve already configured, and this feature securely eliminates cross-talk or eaves-dropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular, this capability can be used across geographic locations. Lastly, Walkie Talkie will work across all operating systems and will integrate with the newly unveiled Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro, a device built for workers on the front lines of any industry.
Availability: Walkie Talkie will be available in private preview in Teams in the first half of this year.
2. Streamline task management for your firstline operations
With the new Tasks experience in Teams, we are delivering several capabilities that will support new levels of team collaboration. Tasks targeting, publishing and reporting in Teams allows corporate and regional leadership to send task lists targeted to the relevant locations, such as specific retail stores, and track their progress through automatic real-time reports. Managers have tools to easily direct activities within their stores, and Firstline Workers have a simple prioritized list available via their personal or company-issued mobile device showing them exactly what to do next.
Availability: Tasks targeting, publishing & reporting is coming to Teams in the first half of this year.
3. Roll out Teams to your Firstline Workers with the help of new off-shift controls, and identity and access capabilities
With new Off-Shift Access controls, you can limit employee access to Teams on their personal device outside of working hours. This feature ensures employees are not involuntarily working while not on shift and helps employers comply with labor regulations.
Availability: Off-Shift Access controls will begin rolling out this quarter.
With SMS sign-in, Firstline Workers are able to sign in to their Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account using one-time SMS codes—reducing the need to remember usernames and passwords for all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications. Once enrolled, the user is prompted to enter their phone number, which generates an SMS text with a one-time password. SMS sign-in is a single sign-on (SSO) experience, enabling Firstline Workers to seamlessly access all the apps they are authorized to use. This new sign-in method can be enabled for select groups and configured at the user level in the My Staff portal—helping to reduce the burden on IT.
Availability: SMS sign-in will be in public preview in the first half of this year.
Many Firstline Workers use a single tablet or mobile device that is shared between shifts. This can pose unique security challenges to the organization when different employees who have access to different types of data use the same device over the course of a day. With shared device sign-out, Firstline Workers will be able to log out of all their Microsoft 365 and custom applications and browser sessions with one click at the end of their shift—preventing their data as well as any access to customer data from being accessible to the next user of that device.
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Delegated user management enables firstline managers to approve password resets via a single customizable portal. IT can enable delegated user management for Firstline Managers, giving them access to a single portal, My Staff, to reduce the burden of identity management on IT and keep employees connected to the apps they need on the job.
Availability: Delegated user management will be in public preview in the first half of the year.
4. Seamlessly manage shift schedules and time & attendance reporting
With Shifts, the schedule management tool in Teams, managers can easily plan and create shift schedules, and team members can review schedules and make shift change requests from their mobile devices, all in real time.
With Time Clock in Teams, Firstline Workers can easily clock in and out of shifts and breaks with the hold of a button. Additionally, managers can geofence a location and use GPS data to validate that a team member is at their worksite.
Availability: Shifts and Time Clock are available in your tenant today.
5. Customize the Teams experience based on different jobs and roles
Differences between industries means your employees use different devices, apps and modes of communication to get their jobs done. Today, we’ve made it easier for you to create experiences that cater to a specific role. Feel free to build line of business apps with Power Apps and integrate them into Teams to empower your Firstline Workforce. Use Power Automate to speed up workflows to increase productivity. Make Teams the one stop shop for your Firstline Workers to get their jobs done.
6. Control what apps are made easily available to your Firstline Workers
From the Skype & Teams Admin Center, you can apply a pre-packaged Teams experience or choose any configuration and apply it to your Firstline Workers. For example, you could apply a policy that makes your line of business apps, Shifts and Chat experiences available on the navigation bar instead of the standard Teams default modules. Now, with the app set up policies feature, you can simplify the Teams experience to cater to your employees’ needs by role.
7. Have a workforce management system? Integrate it with Teams today.
The Graph API for Shifts, the schedule management tool in Teams, has a set of new APIs that enable organizations to integrate their existing workforce management systems with Teams. Customers using leading 3rd party workforce management systems, such as Kronos and JDA for scheduling, and time & attendance can now start integrating directly with Shifts via Shifts Graph APIs and SDK.
8. Celebrate your employees and build community
Praise, the employee engagement tool in Teams, gives managers and employees a simple way to recognize each other, right in the Teams app where the whole team can see it. Taking steps to engage and recognize employees can go a long way to improving their satisfaction, enhancing the customer experience and reducing turnover.
Availability: Praise is available in your tenant today.
9. Mobile features that mimic a ‘consumer app-like’ experience
Your Firstline Workers are used to consumer apps to communicate with one another and so we’ve built the Teams mobile experience with that in mind. Firstline Workers can leverage mobile features such as a unified chat and channel experience, location sharing and the ability to record and share audio messages to listen to on demand.
Availability: The unified chat and channel view, location sharing and record and share audio are available in your tenant today.
10. Secure your company’s data
Teams is built upon Office 365’s enterprise grade security and compliance. In addition to security features such as data loss prevention and multifactor authentication, Smart Camera in Teams has been built to protect your company’s data and ensure that as Firstline Workers start and end employment at your organization, your data is not jeopardized.
Built with Microsoft’s Office Lens functionality, Smart Camera can interpret different image types and utilizes auto crop for easy consumption. Users can also annotate images as needed. And unlike most consumer chat apps, photos taken with Smart Camera are not stored locally on the device. Ensure that your company’s IP and customers data stays secure with features such as Smart Camera in Teams.
Availability: Smart Camera is available in your tenant today.
This is just a snippet of the advancements we’ve made, and the team is continuing to expand Teams to meet the needs of all workers. Check out the resources below to help you get started with digital transformation for your firstline workforce.
Try the new features and provide feedback using the feedback link in the lower left corner of Microsoft Teams. If you have suggestions on how to make Teams better, please submit your idea via User Voice or vote for existing ideas to help us prioritize the requests. We read every piece of feedback that we receive to make sure that Microsoft Teams meets your needs.
—Keara James, product marketing manager Microsoft Teams
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