Microsoft has updated its Teams offer with a Walkie-Talkie function. Additionally, Viva integrates better with editors like Workday and Expressive. These developments are a response to the demands of field workers.
Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of many industries, forcing employees to change their work habits and rely on video conferencing and collaboration software to get their jobs done. But this transformation did not concern all sectors and all areas. That’s the case for frontline workers, 41% of whom don’t have access to the technology they need, as Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index Special Report shows. on Frontline Workers”. This global survey of 9,600 firstline workers in eight countries and eight industries who cannot work remotely intends to serve as a guide to help business leaders evolve their work environments.
In a briefing last week, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of modern work at Microsoft, said that while the firm has so far focused more on “knowledge workers,” the company now wanted to extend them to field workers. It must be said that the latter represent more than 80% of the global workforce, or about 2 billion people. “At Microsoft, our mission goes far beyond knowledge workers. We really want every person in every company, everywhere to be able to do more things with our products,” Spataro said.
The specter of the great resignation hovers
“This consideration is important, as technology has been a major asset for frontline workers during the pandemic,” said Angela Ashenden, senior workplace transformation analyst at CCS Insight. “The pandemic has revealed how important these workers are to their businesses,” she added. “Often it’s thanks to them that companies have been able to continue operating, often also they have borne the brunt of the pandemic from a business point of view, either because they could not work remotely, or because they were more exposed to the virus in the course of their work”. People-facing workers are prominent in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare.
Microsoft’s survey highlighted several challenges, but one of the biggest issues is balancing employee well-being with business activity. 51% of respondents said people in front-line non-managerial positions do not feel valued, and 58% said work-related stress will continue or even get worse in 2022. whose business relies on front-line workers are not immune to chain resignations. A record number of employees have decided to leave their jobs to find better opportunities. Like their colleagues working in the office, among the top reasons for changing jobs, frontline workers cite better pay, better work-life balance, better benefits and greater flexibility. . According to data from LinkedIn, of the eight sectors covered by Microsoft’s survey, in seven of them, there are more vacancies today than before the pandemic.
Questions about the contribution of technologies
Despite the challenges faced by these workers, a large number of respondents are optimistic about the improvements that technology could bring to their daily work. When asked what could help reduce worker stress, technology comes second, behind salary and vacation pay, and ahead of benefits. Additionally, 63% of respondents said they were very interested in the job opportunities created by technology. “The stress experienced by these frontline workers is unprecedented, and Microsoft believes companies would benefit from prioritizing this group of employees,” Spataro said. “In other words, you can say that a strong front line means a better result. We believe that by aligning with the needs of employees, the company can not only improve their well-being and make work more efficient, but it can also drive better business results,” he added.
However, despite this general optimism, a large number of respondents expressed concerns about technology: 46% said they fear losing their job if they do not adapt to new technologies, and 55% said that ‘they had to learn to use new technologies at work without having received formal training. One of the main issues, according to Ms. Ashenden, is that technological innovation over the past 20 years has largely focused on office workers, especially when it comes to productivity and collaboration. As a result, frontline worker tools have not evolved and are often outdated. “Some companies get around this by tinkering with technology themselves or trying to adapt technology designed for office workers,” she said. “But it’s only now that major tech players like Microsoft are starting to invest in a targeted way to provide bespoke, out-of-the-box solutions specifically designed for this group of workers. The heightened awareness and understanding the pandemic has generated has heightened companies’ desire to invest in these solutions,” she added.
Generalized Walkie-Talkie at Microsoft Teams
While conducting the survey, Microsoft looked at productivity patterns and the increasingly common use of Teams as a communication hub. Telemetry data showed that between March 2020 and November 2021, monthly Teams usage in the field increased by 400%. While platforms like Teams weren’t necessarily developed with firstline workers in mind, many non-office workers also rely on tools traditionally used in the office. For example, remote support apps provide workers with assistance to customers and partners without being present in person, and virtual meeting technology allows salespeople to stay in touch with customers and even speed up sales cycles. sales by allowing them to make more customer calls per day.
With that in mind, Microsoft last week announced updates to its Viva and Microsoft Teams platforms specifically tailored to frontline workers. The Teams Walkie-Talkie app will now be available on Nokia devices from Zebra, Crosscall and HMD Global, so workers will have a high-tech walkie-talkie, in push-to-talk mode, whatever the device they use. Microsoft has also added virtual appointments in Teams, with real-time updates on wait times, missed appointments and staff delays. Microsoft Teams’ Viva Connections app is now integrated with strategic partners like Workday and Expressive, making it easy to access important resources and consolidating payroll and HR resources in one place. Finally, updates to the Viva Learning app give frontline employees the ability to discover, share, and track training content in Teams to make training more consistent in the workplace.