Supercharge frontline worker transformation with Teams: 6 Tips to get you started

Over the last year we have been reminded of the huge value of frontline workers. From healthcare to retail and transport to construction, they have a unique responsibility to embody company values and act on strategic initiatives whilst maintaining the highest standards. Despite their importance to operational success, frontline workers are often overlooked as digital transformation sweeps through most corporate and business functions. According to Forbes Magazine, only 36% of leaders say the majority of their frontline workers have the technology they need to do the job effectively, falling back instead to rudimentary manual processes. 

Why Teams for the frontline? 

Over the last year, Teams has seen a surge in organic adoption due to the insatiable appetite for remote working capabilities following the start of the pandemic. Where previously the conversation of flexible working was hard to broach, the last year has defined a bulletproof business case for cloud-based collaboration platforms like Teams. While the majority of these adopters are traditional ‘information workers’, we’re seeing many of our clients keen to explore extending the functionality of Teams to their frontline staff. Beyond its intuitive mobile design and the integrated security, Teams is by definition a platform. It’s an operating system designed to improve the employee experience by connecting the tools, people and information they need to do their job.  

Just last month, we saw Microsoft double down on this narrative with their announcement of Microsoft Viva. Through Viva businesses now have a way of bringing together and building experiences that support better knowledge sharing, less context switching, and better employee wellbeing. And with Teams being promoted as the gateway or the ‘front door’ to Viva (and other systems) it’s clear to see that there is more value to be had from Teams beyond knowledge-based workers.  

So, how do you generate more value from Teams for your frontline? Here are six tips to get you started.  

1. Secure stakeholder buy in  

First things first, it is essential that you secure buy-in across key stakeholders and sponsors to get your initiative moving forward. Ensuring that you obtain an executive sponsor will give your project credence, initial seed funding, and help to communicate key messages to the company. Be clear on the value statement defining hard measures like return on investment and soft measures such as improved job satisfaction. 

2. Be clear about your business use cases  

Now start to identify which problems are worth solving and why. Conduct a thorough discovery phase defining personas, scenarios, user stories and problem statements. Ensure that you can clearly articulate the why before the how for each problem statement, considering the frontline workers environment, emotion, and their point of view. 

3. Imagine the solution  

Now start to conjure your solution to life. Using the Teams platform as a shell you can start to create a purpose-built mobile-friendly experience with the building blocks available in Teams. Using a blank canvas, begin to map out applications and capabilities relating to key scenarios. Ensure you put yourselves in the users shoes and run through a day in the life simulation from their point of view.  

4. Plan for the change  

Frontline workers deal with line of business systems at the business end of the process. Ensuring they know about what is changing, why and when is vital to the overall success of your rollout. Creating a robust change management plan focusing on user impacts, key messaging and stakeholder management will help to make the change stick past launch and beyond. Here are some key areas to consider: 

  • Need to know messaging – Strip the communications down to the core information needed so the messaging is simple and succinct. 
  • Make it personal – People feel strongly about change, it’s deeply emotional. Use that in your favour and speak to the end user directly. Let them know what is in it for them. 
  • Don’t change everything together – Minimise confusion with too much change. Build up adoption of the core platform and features introducing process changes over time. 
  • Use Teams to teach – Use the power of Teams to create learning pathways to upskill the work force. Additions like Viva learning will help to curate content into one place for easy consumption. 
  • Leverage existing networks – Throughout the sites, shops, or wards where you are launching the app. Ensuring that team leaders and early adopters are briefed and ready to support the rollout will minimise teething problems.    

5. Scale your solution to dispersed teams 

Rolling out a solution to hundreds or even thousands of frontline staff can be daunting. Ensuring that every user can access the correct and relevant information when they need it most is vital. To help manage these dispersed teams there are three key areas available to help streamline the rollout: 

  • Assign permissions at scale – Make sure that the end users experience the end solution the way you intended by creating and assigning custom policy packages. Apply custom settings to thousands of different user subsets in minutes.  
  • Industry relevant templates – Reduce the time it takes to get your frontline team up and running with custom Teams templates. Structure the way they work with predefined apps, workflows and files curating who can choose which template. 
  • Connecting teams across the company – Leveraging the tasks publishing functionality in Microsoft Teams empower end users to own workloads whilst improving supervision with monitoring dashboards. Tasks in Teams aligns messaging through defined management hierarchies. 

6. Build communities of value  

By putting Teams in the hands of your frontline workers you are giving them a voice to communicate with other parts of the business, sometimes for the first time. Yammer combined with Teams for frontline networks can help to improve existing communications channels leaving end users feeling empowered and heard.  

  • Building frontline worker communities around knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing can spark innovation and improve speed to market for helpful ideas. 
  • Making announcements through Yammer like all company broadcasts and updates can help disseminate important messages quickly leaving no room for ambiguity, especially in times of crisis. 
  • Live events can help to connect decision makers to frontline teams providing a platform for two-way dialogue with Q&A forums helping to keep leaders accountable. 

By connecting the disparate parts of the organisation and dismantling existing hierarchies with applications like Yammer you can establish better feedback loops, authentic conversations, and more engaged leaders.  

The enormity of the challenge to modernise frontline worker business processes and systems can feel overwhelming to contemplate at first glance. Years of neglect and underfunding can make it feel like a can of worms best left closed. However Microsoft offer a simple solution. Take the power of cloud productivity and channel it at your frontline workers. Leveraging Teams as a mobile native foundation start to customise pre-existing building blocks available in the Microsoft ecosystem to start delivering change in your organisation, safely and securely.  

Want to learn more? 

If you want to learn more about how to leverage Teams to transform the way your frontline staff connect and collaboration, get in touch.  

About the author

Jack Hendy is a senior change and adoption consultant at Engage Squared. He has been helping people fall in love with technology for over five years in two hemispheres. He enjoys telling stories that change mindsets, playing golf and laughing raucously.

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