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Feature Flashlight – How Microsoft Teams is powering hybrid work

Hybrid work – The new normal

In the modern world we can bank, shop, and even have a doctor’s appointment online, but in some industries – in particular, for manufacturing frontline workers – it is essential that work is completed on the factory floor.; It is simply impossible for some – if not most – steps of the workflow to take place remotely. Manufacturers are moving into the ‘new normal’ of hybrid work and are adapting new practices for ensuring secure – and, most importantly – safe work in their factories.

With COVID-19 seemingly arriving overnight, we saw plans for a digital transformation that were forecast to take place over a period of two years happening within weeks. Mirroring this rapid transformation was the adoption of Microsoft Teams, of which usage – especially in the manufacturing industry – increased exponentially by around an astonishing 230%! The need for digital communication and collaboration across your organization has always been important, but this has now become essential.

The heroes of this pandemic are the frontline workers. All this has further accentuated the need for tools that connect an entire organization, all the way from corporate to the factory floor. Microsoft Teams is enabling new ways of working – by connecting the workforce via ‘Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing’ (a platform designed to deliver capabilities that support the core processes and requirements of the industry) and digitizing business processes.


Frontline workers

Microsoft Teams is also empowering frontline workforces all over the globe with purpose-built solutions to enable them to succeed in their job role and feel safe in doing so. Microsoft’s partnership with ‘RealWear’ is key in making this happen. (RealWear is a wearable hands-free headset that comes equipped with a powerful camera and two-way audio that enables real-time video calls with remote collaborators).

Generally, factories and frontline workers aren’t usually the first to reap the benefits of a digital transformation, partially due to the need for both software and hardware to marry up in order for them to provide the optimal experience for the user. Microsoft Teams and RealWear use the hands-free video calling abilities of the headset to provide a link between ‘shop floor’ workers and remote working experts in real-time, allowing them to offer guidance. This, in –turn, leads to less machine downtime and (what can be) a considerable amount of money saved, all whilst ensuring the safety of your workforce.


Digitizing and streamlining manufacturing workflows

Microsoft Teams has many features in its repertoire that make it unique, no more so than the ability to connect your information and frontline workers on the same communications platform and digitize your workflows. Digitizing your workflows can save you considerable time on usually long laborious tasks.

Approvals are a critical part of a manufacturing frontline worker’s workday. Teams has provided users with a repeatable structure for regular approvals – like overtime requests, for example. And partnerships with ‘Adobe Sign’ and ‘DocuSign’ allow for an ‘E’ signature (electronic signature) approval natively within the approvals app for contracts and permits on the factory floor. – Without this digitalization and streamlining of manufacturing processes these signatures can take a long time to get, or, in the worst-case scenario, be forgotten altogether resulting in the work not being completed as scheduled.

Another example of the power of Teams’ digitalization and streamlining is the ability to assist in a daily task that practically every factory worker has to complete – clocking in. For some a cup of tea or coffee is the first thing they do when they get to work but for factory workers clocking in is the first thing on their minds. Now with Teams ‘Clock API’s’ you can create rules as to how late – if at all – a team member can clock-in without requiring manager approvals or requiring a health screening survey before commencing their day.

Microsoft Teams – practically overnight – was rocketed to the frontline for most companies and had the pressure of business operations on its shoulders within days. Its daily user count reached an average of 115 million users as of December last year and it is easy to see why numbers continue to rise as more business owners see the benefits that it can bring. Explore Teams yourself and see what it can do for your business, now, and into the future.


Your Microsoft 365 gurus

At Grapevine, our team of dedicated engineers can meet any technical challenge you may come across. We take our time in getting to know your business, employees, and your goals for the future – so we can then find the best technological solution for you. Our years of experience leave us primed and ready with all the tools needed to ensure a top-quality service, now, and into the future. Contact our team and let us start our journey together today.


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