Microsoft has made significant strides in recent years addressing the needs of workers who don’t work on a computer throughout the day. Some people don’t touch a computer at work at all, and yet they still require company news, communications, and access to company resources. I have seen estimates of 500 million to 2 billion people who fit into this category – that of frontline workers (although Microsoft uses the term “firstline”). Microsoft offers a plethora of Office 365 apps for mobile devices: Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote), Delve, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more. These apps are mobile-optimised versions of the larger application.
Microsoft is also investing in apps that are mobile-first, meaning they are first-and-foremost designed for people who use a mobile device as their primary (and perhaps only) device, not their secondary one. Microsoft StaffHub is an example of this workstream (released in January 2017). The StaffHub service offers a way for team leaders to create and share work schedules, tasks, and documents or links of relevance to their team. Schedules must be created and assigned using a web browser (therefore the team leader needs a computer, or at least access to one), but team members use the mobile app – available for iOS and Android – to view their schedules, request a schedule swap with another team member, create and work on tasks, hold discussions, and access the files and links their team leader has made available.
The capabilities in StaffHub enable the following:
• Each person with rights to StaffHub can sign into the browser edition and create one or more teams.
• Each team can be divided into multiple groups, although only using one team and one group is entirely fine.
• The team leader can add people to their team. An invitation to join is sent out by email, which must be opened using a mobile device. A new team member can’t use the link to accept the invitation on a computer.
• The team leader can create a schedule for each person, add notes to the day for every team/group member to view, and can also add notes to a specific shift for a person. Shift notes allow a team leader to point out a specific task or focus area for a team member for that shift. Once the schedule is created for a week (or day or month), the team leader can share the new schedule with their team. Each team member’s mobile app is updated, and they will receive a change alert.
• Each team has a files area to which the team leader can contribute files (documents, images) and links (URL resources). Team leaders can add and modify these; team members can view them. Files and documents must be added directly into StaffHub from the team leader’s computer; a team leader can’t browse a SharePoint document library or OneDrive for Business location for a file to add.
• Each person can belong to more than one group within a team, and to more than one team. For people in multiple teams, both the browser and mobile app enable switching between teams. Note that StaffHub does not create an aggregated calendar for a person on multiple teams; the schedule for each team is treated standalone. Notifications, however, are unified across teams, meaning that a single notifications screen shows all the outstanding notifications across all of the teams the individual is a member of.
• If enabled, team members can use StaffHub to clock in and clock out of their shifts. These time reports can be exported to other systems for payroll processing. There is also a location detection option in StaffHub, meaning that a worker will need to be at or near a specific geographical location in order to clock in or out, thereby reducing fraudulent time cards.
• Team members can use the mobile app to request a shift swap with another team member. All requests have to be approved by the team leader.
Everyone using StaffHub needs an Office 365 account. Note, however, that rights to StaffHub are included in the Office 365 F1 (Firstline) plan, which is much less than an Enterprise E1 plan or above. F1 also includes rights to Outlook (with a 2GB mailbox), Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business, and more.