For frontline workers balancing safety and busy workloads, Microsoft Teams is playing a central role with functions designed specifically for them. Learn what’s new in Teams and how the evolving platform benefits public health and pandemic response.
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In this episode:
Teams on the front lines: Examples and Use Cases
Prior to the pandemic, I started to see organizations such as retail companies, manufacturing, or even transportation really start utilizing Teams for their specific needs.
A good example is our Shift Happens episode with FedEx where we talked about how FedEx relied on Teams for their scheduling and their activities when they’re transporting or moving packages at the airport—from everybody moving the packages to the pilots involved.
Another example is another episode with the Belgian police—which was really cool. All their police officers were using Teams on their phone. And get this: in one of the use cases with their police chase, the helicopter is actually with their camera broadcasting on a Microsoft Teams meeting so that police officers on the ground chasing can see it on their phones. Talk about an awesome use case. They’re not worrying about sharing files, but really saving lives with Microsoft Teams.
The Power of Microsoft Teams
The power of Microsoft Teams is that if you really break it down and think about what the technology can do, it’s powered by all the other Microsoft 365 apps beneath Teams.
In telehealth, for example. There’s a capability called Bookings in Microsoft 365 where I’ve seen doctors use it for scheduling visits. Obviously, the actual visit is through the Microsoft Teams call. And at the same time, internally in the hospitals, they schedule their shifts and duties with technology called Shifts for Teams, which is a part of Teams as well.
It’s really designed not only for what we call the knowledge workers and information workers, but more and more, it’s really becoming ideal for a lot of our frontline colleagues as well.
Enabling Burst Communications with Walkie-Talkies
There’s also the walkie talkie feature which is now coming back with Teams. With chats, we can have bursts of communication; I type something, you get it, you type something, it comes back. Whereas we can’t really do burst communications with calling. I’m not going to call you and say, “Hey, Kevin”, and then drop the phone. So, it’s more asynchronous. Think of it as like burst communications in an asynchronous way. And that’s where walkie-talkie can come in handy.
Microsoft Viva for the Frontlines
Viva is Microsoft’s employee experience platform. What does that mean? If you think about employee experience, Microsoft breaks it down into four key areas:
- Viva Connections: it’s the idea that every employee can stay connected with the organization. Meaning, they’ll know the latest announcement.
The analogy I have is like with intranets. In the past, the intranet was typically like this: you go to SharePoint for the intranet, look at your policies, look at the new updates or new PowerPoint. Now, you can still use SharePoint, but it’s surfaced through Teams through Viva Connections. The idea is, again, to keep every single employee, be it in the office or in the frontline, connected with what’s going on in the company.
- Viva Learning: you can offer on-demand training and on-demand learning powered by not only internal training, but also from leading providers like LinkedIn learning.
Imagine frontline workers: if they need on-demand training or say, they’re building stuff and they want to see how to’s, they can pull up a video and say, “How do I do this?” Or, “What’s a policy on this? Let me look at this training.”
- Viva Insights: is more around personal productivity. It will help tell you how much time you spent on email for example, or how much time you spent on meetings or who you collaborated most with.
It also reminds you to say, “Hey, make sure you don’t forget to give props and kudos to your colleagues who’s helped you this week.”
- Viva Topics: powered by AI and aggregates information across Microsoft 365.
Let’s say you’re working on a plan or a document, and there’s a keyword that says ‘Project Alpha’. So, you can make that as a topic. And when you click on ‘Project Alpha’, it’s going to pull relevant information—it could be a PowerPoint, a white paper—anything that you have permission to, it will surface the relevant information to you. This can really empower you so you won’t waste time looking for stuff and try and figure stuff out.
Training a Frontline Worker and Adopting the Right Technology
First and foremost, we have to think that our frontline worker colleagues have specific use cases above and beyond what we do as a knowledge worker. And so, the first success factor is to think about their use cases in their world and then figure out what Teams capabilities can support them. Obviously, you should provide that to them.
Secondly, think about how we drive adoption. As we all know, technology’s great, but making people change is the hardest thing. The key is to engage with the right champions and the right frontline managers, and really define these new ways of working. In the end, if we show and demonstrate that it makes their jobs easier to do, and more importantly, that the actual usage of it is easy to adopt, then you can get the buy-in.
Another good news with Teams is that the mobile app is great. As we know, our frontline workers most likely aren’t using laptops; they’re using their phones. The fact that Teams is available as a mobile app provides that low barrier to entry. So now, the next step for them to adopt is to really make it meaningful.
Shift Happens episodes:
Shifts for Teams: Shifts for Teams – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs
Microsoft Viva: Employee Experience and Engagement | Microsoft Viva
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