By Keara James at Microsoft

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.

And it’s inspiring to see how industry leaders like are driving higher levels of employee engagement and enhancing the customer experience by putting tools like Microsoft Teams into the hands of their Firstline Workforce. IKEA is connecting everyone in the organization with familiar features like chat and video calls and digitizing firstline processes such as shift management to save time and cost.

Continue reading to learn about the 10 ways Teams can unlock productivity for your shift workers. Of note, these capabilities are 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.

Your Firstline Workers will be able to connect with team members across departments and locations with Walkie Talkie.

2. Streamline task management for your firstline operations

With the 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.

Corporate headquarters can target, assign and track tasks across locations. Firstline Workers can view tasks assigned to them and across the store via a mobile device.

3. Roll out Teams to your Firstline Workers with the help of new off-shift controls, and identity and access capabilities

With 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.

Display a message and/or disable access to Teams app when Firstline Workers are off shift.

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.

One-time SMS codes on mobile devices to streamline the sign-in experience for Firstline Workers.

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.

With one click, Firstline Workers can sign out of a shared Android device and log out of all applications and browser sessions to prevent sensitive data being shared with another device user.

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.

Through the My Staff portal, delegated user management enables a Firstline manager to manage their team’s credentials and assist with password resets.

Inbound provisioning from SAP SuccessFactors to Azure AD—Azure AD’s user provisioning service integrates with SAP SuccessFactors, making it easier than ever to onboard and manage Firstline Workers’ identities at scale, across any application using Azure AD. This feature—in public preview—builds upon the ability to provision users to Azure AD from Workday, another popular human capital management (HCM) system, already generally available. Integrating with these systems of record helps IT to scale Firstline Workers’ onboarding and productivity from day one.

Start the provisioning cycle and use the progress bar and provisioning logs to track the provisioning process.

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.

Managers can create and distribute schedules to their team and Firstline Workers can easily review their schedules directly from their mobile device. Firstline Workers can clock in and out of shifts and breaks from their mobile device.

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. 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.

Add your line of business apps (left) and automate business processes with Power Automate (right) in Teams.

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.

Create a configuration policy for your Firstline Workers and customize their navigation bar with the apps they need most (left). Firstline Workers can access the apps they need to do their jobs from the overflow menu (right).

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 third-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.

Availability: The JDA connector for Shifts is open sourced and available on Github here.

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.

Share badges to celebrate success, increase employee engagement and foster greater comradery.

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.

View all conversations in one place with a unified chat and channel view (left). Share your location and record and share audio messages (right).

10. Secure your company’s data

Teams is built upon Microsoft 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.

Smart Camera images can be annotated and do not get saved locally on the device.

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.

Video: Empowering Firstline Workers with Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams updates for Firstline Workers

Videos: Shifts in Teams
What is Shifts?
Create a Shifts schedule
Manage a Shifts schedule

Support documentation for Firstline Worker capabilities
Shifts for Teams support page
Praise support page

Teams template and pilot information
Template: Setting up Teams in retail environments

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