Please see our Work from Home guide for you to share with your teams. We hope you find this useful.
During the 2020 pandemic, many companies employing “firstline” workers, such as retail associates, delivery workers, and healthcare providers were challenged with keeping track of a very mobile and in-demand firstline workforce. But what many entrepreneurs learned about modern firstline workers is that the need to share information with others inside their organization often results in text messages and voice conversations sent between workers using consumer apps on personal smartphones. An Amaxra client whose company employs firstline workers recently asked how she could avoid these potential security and compliance risks as well as remove any process inefficiencies—and we recommended Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers.
Microsoft Teams is the cloud-based collaboration app built into Microsoft 365. It is primarily an instant messaging app, but Teams also integrates all of the documents, emails, calendar invitations, and other workplace information into a single hub for co-workers to share ideas and collaborate on solutions. But since most firstline workers rarely create PowerPoint slides or Excel spreadsheets, few businesses would pay for the additional Microsoft 365 license. The solution was for Microsoft to create an offshoot of Microsoft 365 specifically for firstline workers. Microsoft 365 for Firstline Workers comes with a version of Microsoft Teams designed to enable staff workers and their managers to manage time, communicate with their teams, and share content securely. A key advantage of this version of Microsoft Teams is that the mobile app can be installed on the frontline workers’ personal Apple iPhone or Google Android-based smartphones but keeps all of the worker’s personal data separate from company data.
Over the past year, Amaxra has helped businesses with firstline workers by deploying Microsoft 365 with Microsoft Teams solutions. Here are the five features in Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers that Amaxra uses to empower essential workers with secure collaboration and help managers to safely track their productivity.
Secure sign-in using text messaging
Whether the firstline employees are in a home décor store, a restaurant, or a medical clinic, they all need to able to let their managers know they’re onsite and ready to do their jobs. It’s increasingly rare that firstline employees “punch the clock” now, replacing that action with signing into a digital version. Amaxra is an advocate for using personal devices for business authentication, and by deploying this Microsoft solution, firstline workers can sign in for work using their smartphones without needing to remember usernames and complex passwords that must be changed every 90 days.
From the Microsoft Teams app, firstline workers can enter their phone number, which can be recognized by the Microsoft Azure Active Directory (AD), the secure cloud-based identity management service for all Microsoft 365 users. Azure AD is used to authorize the worker then sends a text message back to the phone with a single-use password the worker uses to sign in securely to Microsoft Teams. Because this SMS sign-in method is managed by Azure AD, the frontline workers are only able to access the company apps and data they are authorized to use. It’s simple for the worker, secure for the business, and easy for IT to configure.
Empowering frontline managers with My Staff portal
A recurring theme Amaxra heard from businesses with branch offices is that onsite IT is becoming a rarity. Lean IT organizations often result in branch office managers taking time out of their busy day to ask for headquarters to approve simple IT requests such as a password reset for an existing employee. For example, a bakery might have a large production facility but deliver to six storefronts around the metro area. When one of the storefronts has to reset the password for a new frontline employee, the manager must send a request to the IT department at the production facility to perform that action because only they have access to the Azure AD.
For our clients with Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers, Amaxra enables the My Staff portal feature that delegates these permissions to the specific store manager or a team lead. So, instead of relying on a central IT helpdesk, organizations can delegate common tasks such as resetting passwords or changing phone numbers to a team manager using the My Staff portal. In the bakery example, the manager at the storefront can log into the My Staff portal to reset their employees’ passwords and change phone numbers immediately rather than waiting on the already-overburdened IT department at the production facility. And while the My Staff portal connects to the same Azure AD identity management system used by the IT department, the simplified and focused interface won’t overwhelm the frontline manager with too many options.
Digital praise for firstline workers
It’s no secret that the frontline workforce often suffers from high if not the highest turnover rates. Nobody wants to stick around a job if they feel like they aren’t appreciated. That’s why Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers has built-in features that make it easy to engage and recognize employees. When chatting in the Microsoft Teams app, managers and employees can tap on the Praise option to add a digital badge and recognize their coworkers. Praise instantly shows up in the message thread and is persistent so that the whole team can see it. Sharing these praise badges with coworkers to celebrate big wins and other achievements helps improve job satisfaction, which in turn, can reduce turnover.
Sharing devices between employees is simple and secure
Although almost firstline worker will own a smartphone, some companies choose to provide their firstline workers with an iPad or Android tablet. Devices like these are designed to enhance the customer experience while being shared by employees between shifts. Amaxra enables companies to address the security and compliance issues of shared devices for frontline workers by enrolling our clients’ devices into the Microsoft Endpoint Manager. This feature, built on the same platform as Microsoft Intune, allows IT managers to configure a shared mode for devices used by firstline workers. Everyone that signs in gets a customized sign in (Amaxra consultants typically configure it to match our customer’s branding guidelines) and when workers sign out at the end of their shift, all personal information is removed so the device is ready for the next employee to use—and it happens with a single click.
Streamlining processes with Power Apps
Efficiency requires following a process. Businesses can increase their efficiency when processes are more automated. Amaxra consultants recommend managers automate processes for common workflows using Power Apps in Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers. For example, using Power Apps, a manager can automate how their direct reports request time off then track their requests over a period of time for reporting purposes. Most importantly, using Power Apps does not require any knowledge of software programming! While the marketing from Microsoft claims that you can “build an app in five minutes,” our consultants have found that as long as you know exactly how you want the workflow to go and think through steps logically, Power Apps automation can deliver real productivity gains to your team in twenty to thirty minutes.
Deploying a Microsoft Teams solution for your firstline workforce
Over the past year, we’ve all seen how firstline workers are the backbone of many businesses. If you want to empower your firstline workers with Microsoft Teams, scheduled a conversation about the pros and cons with an Amaxra consultant. Amaxra is a Gold-level Microsoft Partner with extensive experience in cloud-based Microsoft 365 solutions. Our consultants will assess your current environment and needs to help you make an informed decision on how Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers will increase your overall productivity.
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