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Microsoft Continues Frontline Push With Teams Update

As in 2021, Microsoft’s first Teams announcement of the new year centered on features for frontline workers. In a blog post published today, Microsoft detailed new frontline capabilities for Teams and released results from its Work Trend Index Special Report, which explored trends impacting frontline work. Here’s what Microsoft’s research found in their latest report and what is new in Teams.
Frontline Workers Are Looking for a Lifeline
During a media briefing, Jared Spataro, CVP of modern work for Microsoft, shared some findings from the Work Trend Index Special Report, alongside Emma Williams, corporate VP of modern work transformations for Microsoft. Like their white-collar counterparts, many frontline workers are feeling work pressures spurred on by the pandemic. Of the 9,600 frontline employees and managers that Microsoft surveyed for its Work Trend Index Special Report, “51% of frontline workers in non-management positions [said they] don't feel valued as employees,” Spataro said. Also, “58% believe that work stress will either stay the same or worsen in the coming year,” Spataro added.
Technology has a key role to play in improving the working conditions of frontline workers and creating new opportunities, Spataro stated. Spataro went on to say frontline workers listed technology as the third most important thing to reduce stress, behind increased pay and vacation. Additionally, “63% of frontline workers were excited about the job opportunities that tech creates,” Spataro added.
Microsoft Shares Frontline-focused Update
Microsoft announced that it deepened its partnership with manufacturing technology provider Zebra Technologies. The Walkie Talkie app in Teams is now general available on a range of Zebra mobile devices, including the TC-, EC-, and MC-series. Reflexis Shifts connector for Teams is also generally available, an integration that allows Teams users to leverage the workforce management product to view, assign, and manage shift requests.
In addition to the partnership with Zebra, the Teams updates include:
  • Audio notification to help locate missing devices: On top of a GPS map within Microsoft Endpoint Manager to find missing devices, IT admins can now trigger an audio notification on a lost device, so frontline workers can locate it easier.
  • Single tap sign-out for Android devices: IT admins that set up an Android device in Shared Device Mode through Azure Active Directory can now enable a feature for frontline workers to sign out of all supported applications with a single tap on their device.
  • Virtual appointment view: Frontline workers can now view all their virtual appointments from a single view. The appointment view will provide details on wait times, queuing, missed appointments, and staffing delays and will update in real-time.
  • Approvals comes to Power Apps: Available in February, this integration will allow frontline workers to manage and request approvals within their line of business Power Apps. Additionally, they can require details like mandatory comments and group approvals.
Additionally, Microsoft shared several updates to its employee experience platform Viva, which include:
  • A new learning management system (LMS) assignment feature: With integrations with LMS providers like SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Saba Cloud, managers can assign training and learnings, which will be accessible through Viva Learning. This LMS assignment feature will be GA this month.
  • New Viva Learning partners: Learning providers EdCast and OpenSesame will be joining existing Microsoft partners to provide frontline learning content via a SharePoint integration.
  • New Viva Connections partners: Microsoft also added Workday and Espressive as partners for Viva Connections. With the Workday integration, employees can access Workday insights and self-service capabilities like clock-in-and-clock-out and set reminders for things like a break is ending. With the Espressive integration, employees can access self-help tools from across 14 enterprise departments, including IT, HR, and payroll. Additionally, the Espressive service features an AI-based virtual agent that can respond to employee questions, issues, and requests.