Microsoft has added a raft of updates to its Teams collaboration tool in a bid to win over “first-line” workers such as retail, healthcare and service staffers. The additions include new mobile app functions, integrations with third-party scheduling apps and an employee “praise” tool.

Microsoft claims there are more than two billion frontline staff globally – a segment of workers that has received less attention than knowledge workers, who have access to a plethora of digital tools to support workplace communications and productivity. 

“[First-line workers are] a massive segment of workers around the world that are currently pretty drastically underserved by technology,” said Emma Williams, corporate vice president of Modern Workplace Verticals at Microsoft. “What we are delivering today is a customizable experience that really focuses on a mobile-first worker based on their role.”

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The additions to the Teams mobile app, announced today, include location sharing, the ability to record and share audio messages, and a camera module with image annotation.  The latter can help protect sensitive data within an organization, said Williams, providing a more secure alternative to  consumer chat apps.

“In healthcare, [sending images] is one of the primary forms of communication,” said Williams, with clinicians “sharing x-rays back and forth or pictures of a patient’s injuries. So much of this is happening in unsanctioned consumer chat apps, where there is no security, no compliance, and photos get automatically stored on someone’s personal cellphone. [The] secure camera experience [means] that you take the photo within Teams and it only gets shared within Teams.” 

The mobile app is also customizable with role-based policy templates. IT admins can enable or restrict certain functions such as calendars, calling or private chats, for instance, depending on user needs. Employees can also customize the app themselves, with the ability to pin frequently used modules to the app’s navigation bar. 



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