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‘You’re doing great, I’m on my way’: New Teams features let workers share their location – and their praise

Microsoft has announced new features for Teams to help the more than two billion people who work in customer-facing sectors such as retail, hospitality and travel.

The new capabilities include mobile-only features such as location sharing and manager praise, which can be customised to suit workforces who are on the go.

Teams is free with Office 365 and includes group chat, web conferencing and chat features. More than 329,000 organisations used the program as of September 2018, and the company hopes the new tools will increase collaboration and reduce staff turnover.

“Firstline Workers such as retail associates play a key role in representing a company’s brand,” Emma Williams, Corporate Vice-President of Modern Workplace Verticals at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “Because these employees often need to share information with others inside their organization, many have resorted to using unsecure consumer chat apps to communicate with co-workers. But this poses security and compliance risks, as well as process inefficiencies.

Customizable mobile Teams experience and new mobile features: Keep all conversations in one place (left), share location and record audio messages (middle), and customize the navigation menu (right)

Keep all conversations in one place (left), share location and record audio messages (middle), and customise the navigation menu (right)

“Workers need different capabilities depending on their role. While some might need access to private chats, calendars, and calls, others may only need access to teams and channels. IT administrators can now give each employee role-based access to the primary Teams features they need.”

Staff can now share their location with their whole team, so they can work more effectively together. A smart camera feature lets workers take photos of store aisles, if they work in retail, or X-Rays, if they work in healthcare, and securely save them in Teams. The collaboration program will also let people securely record and share audio messages, which will help when it’s difficult for them to type on their phones.

Graph API for Shifts is a new tool that makes it easier for staff at all levels to access workforce management systems from inside Teams.

Finally, a new Praise tool lets managers send positive messages and badges to staff who have shown promise in a range of areas including leadership, creativity and being a team player. It “gives managers and employees a simple way to recognize co-workers, right in the Teams app where the whole team can see it”, Williams added.