If you attended the Microsoft Ignite conference or read the about the Modern Workplace announcements at the event, you may have learned that firstline worker capabilities are coming to Microsoft Teams. This announcement is a game-changer for partners considering offers and services to firstline workers.
To start let’s define who we mean when we talk about firstline workers. Firstline workers can be found in almost every industry, but more typical ones might be sales associates in retail, field technicians in manufacturing, or hotel and restaurant workers in hospitality. They are often the primary interface of an organization—those who are first to engage with customers, first to represent a company’s brand, and first to see products and services in action. These are the moments that matter most. However, they often experience some technological setbacks in their day-to-day work.
It’s not uncommon for firstline workers to feel disconnected from their team and company, which can lead to less engaged employees to drive culture. Often they use outdated or obsolete tools and processes that can hinder productivity and are slow to receive information and resources, which makes it difficult to cascade information top-down. Notably, firstline workers are susceptible to uneven security practices and governance, opening up those organizations to risk by way of unsanctioned consumer apps. As more companies invest in digital transformation, there is a growing recognition of the importance of empowering firstline workers with modern productivity tools to address some of these current challenges.
A single hub for teamwork—now for all employees
As a reader of the US Partner Community Blog, you probably already know that Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork, a chat-based workspace that enables teams to be more productive by giving them a single, secure location that brings together everything a team needs: chats, meetings, calls, files, and tools. What we announced at Microsoft Ignite is that we are bringing a new set of features into Microsoft Teams entirely designed for the firstline workforce. New features include agile scheduling, intelligent communication, and a tailored experience—making Teams our single hub for teamwork for all employees, from the boardroom to the firstline.
There are two new experiences Home and Shifts. Home is a new mobile-only experience that allows firstline workers to see, at a glance, the most important and relevant info for their day. They can clock in and out of shifts and breaks, receive important notes for the day or shift, and find out who they’re working with during the shift and save time by reviewing information and schedule.
Shifts enables firstline managers to plan schedules in an employee self-service and integrated experience. Managers can also update, distribute, or export schedules for teams, as well as broadcast open shifts so that other employees can cover them. For firstline employees, they can swap or offer shifts and request time off from right from their phones. Team members can also set availability for the day or specific hours to inform managers as it relates to future shift-scheduling purposes.
Firstline workers often compose the majority of the workforce. A study commissioned by Microsoft shows that there are more than 2 billion firstline workers in the global workforce. Approximately 690 million of them can be found in enterprise organizations with 500+ employees. If your offerings and services are not targeting this population, you may be missing out on significant revenue. Now that Microsoft Teams is a hub for teamwork for all employees, partners can develop new experiences that are inclusive of the entire workforce on Teams as part of Microsoft 365. Experiences you can deliver include things like training and upskilling employees, empowering firstline workers with intelligent tools and digital business processes, knowledge management, and even mixed-reality solutions that can take advantage of real-time expertise.
Many customers will need partners to assist them with migrating, managing, and supporting these users. Minimizing security risks and the cost of addressing security breaches related to the firstline workforce, who often have access to sensitive customer information, is a top priority—so don’t forget to include services that extend security to every endpoint and employee.
Consider packaging the specific services and solutions they will use to address a typical requirement for workers on the front line into a firstline worker offering that will help customers understand the value of empowering their firstline workforce. Differentiate your offering by customizing your solutions—extend the services and leverage the Graph API.
You can find more information and additional suggestions on the types of solutions and services you can deliver here. What you’ll find is that the firstline worker scenarios are rich with possibilities to provide unique partner value and create additional revenue streams.
Please join us for our October Modern Workplace Productivity Partner Community call – Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers on Friday, October 12 at 10 a.m. PT to learn more about the exciting announcement and the opportunity it presents for your practice.
Sign up for the October 12 call here.