Office 365 Demonstrates How Cloud Collaboration Platforms Empower First Line Workers

Cloud collaboration platforms are designed to support and empower every sector of an organization, in any industry. They’re flexible beyond what on-premises storage can accomplish on its best day, and are loaded with diverse features whose applications are nearly unlimited, depending on how a business wants to use them.

Perhaps the most dynamic example of this comes from how cloud collaboration platforms are empowering first line workers.

First line workers are crucial to the success of any organization. As the term implies, they’re often at the head of the charge: answering phones, working at counters, interacting with customers, and ensuring that an organization runs as smoothly as possible. Whether retail workers, maintenance employees, medical staff, or customer service representatives, first line workers can be the heartbeat of an organization.

As such, it’s absolutely essential that these individuals have access to the information and the tools they need to get the job done. Because of this, cloud collaboration solutions like Office 365 continue to develop and evolve functionalities tailored specifically to first line workers, all of which ensure that no one aspect of your business is unsupported in the cloud.

Office 365 Helps With Scheduling

Across the board, one of the major challenges faced by first line workers is maintaining access to a complicated schedule. Likewise, managers are often faced with building weekly or monthly schedules that must account for the needs of their business and those of dozens of employees. Keeping track of which workers are full-time, which workers are part-time, who is available when, which workers have swapped shifts, and which workers have requested time off during a certain period is both crucial to the success of an organization and dizzying to keep track of.

Luckily, Office 365 has developed features specifically tailored to scheduling challenges faced by first line workers and managers. Take Microsoft’s StaffHub, rooted in the Office 365 platform. With StaffHub, managers can easily build schedules and assign tasks. Additionally, StaffHub, combined with Microsoft Planner, allows workers to easily communicate with managers and other employees, so that trading shifts or requesting time off becomes a breeze. Via Microsoft StaffHub and Planner, scheduling becomes easy on both a personal and enterprise scale. No need to worry about missing a shift you didn’t know you had or that your manager didn’t remember you had gotten time off for.

Tools like Planner and StaffHub are especially useful for retail and hospitality organizations. Chains like Sears or Marriott will often have up to a hundred employees or more per branch. In the case of the hospitality industry, scheduling is even more complicated because these workers will often be divided into many departments: custodial staff, customer service and concierge duties, even culinary staff. Building effective schedules that account for the needs of your workers, the seasonal business trends, and the structure of your organization is absolutely essential, as is ensuring that all workers are aware of the schedules you craft. In the cloud, first line workers are always in the loops with regards to scheduling, and managers are always able to simply build a schedule that works.

Office 365 Helps with Training and Onboarding

No matter the industry–retail, hospitality, manufacturing, or customer service–employees will come and go as your business evolves. In order to stay on track, it’s crucial to effectively train new hires, sometimes in very specialized tasks, so that they feel comfortable in their position.

With Microsoft Flow, the often chaotic process of onboarding is totally simplified. While in the past, managers and new employees would have to send reams of paperwork back and forth, Flow immediately grants new hires access to SharePoint sites where they can easily access all the necessary documents. Once they’re completed, HR has immediate access to them, and onboarding can be completed.

Cloud platforms like Office 365 provide even more possibilities when it comes to training new employees. In Office 365, organizations have numerous ways to share files related to training,  both broadly and specifically. Yammer, for instance, allows staff to universally share a document or video, while Teams helps specific departments access department specific files. This means that businesses have the ability to create specific training tools, and that businesses can make sure that every new member of the team is given the particular training they need, rather than just a giant handbook they’re forced to memorize.

In manufacturing and maintenance, this also allows managers to easily share new safety videos and communicate changing company standards, so that all employees are up to date and safe all the time!

Because sharing is flexible in Office 365, organizations can structure their training programs more pointedly and more efficiently. By tailoring trainings, cloud collaboration platforms increase the ability of your employees–and, thus, your organization–to succeed!

Office 365 Helps Connect Multiple Work Locations

Consider Primozone, a Swedish company that manufactures environmentally friendly ozone generators for water treatment. While manufacturing is primarily located in Sweden, manufacturers need to stay in constant communication with sales associates in the United States and South Korea.

In the cloud, they can do so without breaking a sweat.

With cloud collaboration platforms, all employees have access to a centralized storage hub with SharePoint Online. This means that organizations can quickly and simply share important information (such as the previously mentioned safety updates, or changing promotional offers) with workers all over the globe.

Recently, Walmart—undoubtedly one of the juggernauts of the retail industry—signed a five-year agreement with Microsoft. Empowered by Office 365, Walmart can seize on dynamic cloud, AI, and IoT solutions to ensure their workers have all the proper tools to create the best customer experience. In Office 365, Walmart has new and improved tools to help schedule shifts, communicate among branches, and manage costs. Not only does the cloud allow Walmart to manage the major details of their business as a whole, but it also ensures that every single branch is connected, and that every employee from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon is consistently up to date on the goings-on of the enterprise.

For businesses that have multiple locations, cloud collaboration platforms connect all these locations in the same way universities use such technology to connect disparate campuses. Because of this, each store and all employees can get access to necessary corporate information like brand-wide sales, promotional information, major corporate announcements, and even sales trends from other locations. This means, managers and workers alike have better access to all the information they need, and enhanced insights into what’s working for different branches and why.

Still, you don’t need to have a business spread across multiple states or countries to seize on the connective power of the cloud!

Take Utah Luxury Tours as an example! After they migrated to Office 365, tour guides and coordinators were able to take advantage of comprehensive mobile functionalities. Rather than be out of the loop about important information while guiding tours, employees were constantly updated about promotions, scheduling information, and safety hazards. Thus—through Office 365—they could remain on the ball and keep their customers as safe as possible.

In any industry communication among all parties is more than essential. In the cloud, that communication and collaboration is streamlined, enhanced, and facilitated so that all users within an organization can reach peak performance.

Download the Ultimate Guide to SharePoint Online Migration and Deployment

Office 365 Helps With Security

Security is an often overlooked but essential concern for first line workers. In retail, hospitality, and customer service, employees will often handle a great deal of personally identifiable information: credit card numbers, addresses, contact information. As such, it’s essential that businesses find a storage solution that effectively protects this data. If hotel chains and department stores are collecting customer information for memberships, credit cards, and rewards programs, it’s crucial that they employ a storage solution that can safeguard this information.

In Office 365, organizations have access to a robust suite of security protocols, as we’ve previously discussed. Powerful file recovery systems protect against ransomware. Outlook allows you to immediately detect suspicious links sent to company email accounts. Enhanced encryption capabilities allow you to communicate about sensitive data without fear of it being obtained or intercepted by the wrong people.

In Office 365, the security of your files–and of your customers’ information–is top-notch, reinforced by a buffet of features. For first line workers, the importance of having the tools to protect customers and the information with which they are entrusted by both those customers and their organization is impossible to overestimate.

Office 365 Empowers First Line Workers Like Nothing Else Can

Organizations of all sizes, from all industries, facing all sorts of challenges migrate to cloud collaboration platforms.

Why? Because no matter what challenges a company is facing, no matter the needs of its workers, the cloud provides solutions.

Firstline workers face a variety of challenges on a daily basis, and they need to be armed with the proper tools to address them. Firstline work is the heart and soul of a business, and making sure that the people in those divisions are able to collaborate, create, and communicate properly is essential to making sure your business succeeds. Because cloud collaboration platforms offer such a wide range of features that are adaptable to such a wide range of vocations–be it in retail, manufacturing, customer service, or hospitality–these solutions offer the perfect insurance for worker success. In the cloud, first line workers are supported and empowered, and their organization with them.

Success isn’t limited to one job or a single industry. Neither is the usefulness, power, and potential of cloud collaboration.