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Microsoft Updates Teams for Frontline Workers

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has touted how its team collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams, can empower frontline workers. A slew of new features introduced last week adds to that storyline.
The new features, outlined in a blog post, are:
  • A publishing feature for new tasks — This feature will allow team leaders to coordinate and manage tasks across a frontline team, Microsoft said. A manager can assign tasks to an individual employee or leave a task open for a team member to self-assign, Microsoft said. Frontline workers will see a list of assigned tasks and any associated documents.
  • Tagging by shifts — The capability allows team members and leaders to tag a specific work shift. Users will have a specific @mention tag (for instance, @onshiftmanagers) that matches their schedule in the Shifts app in Teams, Microsoft said.
  • Approvals feature — Frontline workers can now use an Approvals process within Teams when they need a written acknowledgment from their manager or a customer signature, Microsoft said.
Microsoft also revealed three additional generally available Azure Active Directory features for frontline workers and admins in a separate blog post. These include:
  • Streamlined IT tasks for My Staff — Microsoft admins can now delegate user management to frontline managers via the My Staff portal. Some of the management capabilities include password resets, phone management, and the ability to give employees access without the need of helpdesk or IT support, Microsoft said.
  • Enhanced onboarding authentication — My Staff will now enable frontline managers to register a team member's phone number for SMS sign-in. And when IT enables SMS sign-in, a frontline worker can log in via a single sign-on for Teams and other apps by using their phone number and a one-time passcode sent via SMS.
  • Enhanced sign-in options — Lastly, for access capabilities, Azure Active Directory SMS sign-in, My Staff portal, and shared device sign-out for frontline workers are generally available. Frontline workers can use shared device sign-out to log off all apps and web browsers on a shared device before passing it to a team member, Microsoft said.
Besides product updates, Microsoft shared details on a pair of recent partnerships. The first is with supply chain provider Blue Yonder, which aims to simplify access to their workforce management system with a new connector that’ll share information directly into Shifts in Teams. The connector will be available later this year, Microsoft said. The second is with Reflexis, to provide Teams users access to that company’s workforce management and task management solutions.