While Microsoft Teams is seen mainly as a video conferencing solution these days, its mean reason to exist is a collaboration platform, and today Microsoft announced improvements to extend those collaboration tools to first-line workers and the front-line of your business.

The new capabilities are:

  • Shifts schedule assistance, now available, which alerts managers of scheduling conflicts discovered during the creation of schedules or approval of schedule change requests. This feature saves the manager’s time, makes scheduling more efficient and reduces inaccuracies.
  • Tagging by shift, now available, allows Teams messages to be targeted to recipient groups based on their role and the shift they are working,  such as a message sent to all nurses currently on duty. Users are automatically assigned to tags based on their schedule in the Shifts app in Teams, which allows for integration with major workforce management systems, including AMiON, JDA and Kronos.
  • Off-shift access controls, now available, let IT administrators configure Teams to alert employees when they are accessing the app on their personal device outside working hours. This feature helps ensure employees are not involuntarily working while not on shift and helps employers to comply with labor regulations.
  • Customizable Praise badges, now available, enable organizations to customize employee recognition with company branding and values. IT admins, in partnership with employee engagement teams like HR,  can configure new Praise badges in the Teams Admin Center, and managers and team members can send praise to co-workers by clicking the Praise icon beneath the message compose box in any channel.
  • The integration between Teams and RealWear head-mounted devices is now available, enabling field workers to remain 100% hands-free using a voice-controlled user interface while maintaining situational awareness in loud and hazardous environments. Firstline workers using RealWear HMT-1 and HMT-1Z1 devices can collaborate with a remote expert using video calling in Teams, access chats and other resources using only voice commands and conduct calls and field operations completely hands-free. By showing what they see in real time, field workers can accelerate the time to resolve issues, obtain approvals and reduce expensive downtime.
  • Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie, now available on Android, is a push-to-talk experience that turns employee- or company-owned Android devices into walkie-talkies for instant and secure voice communication over the cloud using cellular network or Wi-Fi. This native built-in app in Teams reduces the number of devices employees must carry and helps lower IT costs. Customers who currently use analog radio devices would no longer need to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders or the limited range of radio, as Walkie Talkie works over Wi-Fi or cellular data. And for teams not yet enabled with a push-to-talk experience, Walkie Talkie in Teams enables instant team communication with preconfigured channels set to have the right conversation with the right people. Teams Walkie Talkie is natively integrated with purpose-built devices from BlueParrott,

Klein Electronics and Samsung, including the new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro with dedicated push-to-talk button, so companies can now choose from an assortment of industrial form factors to suit their needs.

Learn more about the update here.

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