Typical Problems of Firstline Workers

And How Microsoft Solves Them

4 Particular Problems of Firstline Workers – And How Microsoft Solves Them

Digital Transformation (DX) is bringing unprecedented changes to the way we work: emails, chats, online meetings and collaboration on digital documents are part of the daily working routine for most employees. But Firstline Workers account for three quarters of all staff members. And so far their needs have been swept under the carpet of digitization. Microsoft knows how to bring Firstline Workers back into the company fold – and how they can adopt modern working methods.

Working on the front line

Firstline Workers usually do not have their own stationary PC workstation and therefore enjoy extremely limited access to (digital) company information and tools. Often the best they can hope for is a shared desktop with access to their own mailbox and that’s it. Most production employees, trade staff, service employees, sales staff and other groups have been left behind by the wave of digitization. Roughly 85 percent of Firstline Workers feel cut off from IT and communication within their company. And this leads to a variety of problems.

#1: The forgotten employees

The underlying purposes of digitizing processes and restructuring corporate IT are to boost productivity and efficiency. The aim has been to support internal communication by digital means since the first modern communication technologies emerged – most of them in the form of a so-called intranet. They are certainly an easy way to overcome spatial, temporal and hierarchical obstacles. But Firstline Workers can only dream of digital information formats or internal communication platforms. They have to make do with gleaning the latest news from pieces of paper stuck to the noticeboard in the break room. Digitization won’t work this way. It is imperative to bring the forgotten employees back into the fold. Among the most effective ways of achieving this is by using collaboration apps like SharePoint, Yammer and Teams. All of these tools are integral parts of Microsoft’s F1 Plans that are tailored precisely to the requirements of Firstline Workers, permitting needs-based licensing solutions.

#2: We achieve less alone

Ego players are shunned these days. After all, teamwork has never been this easy and has now spread to all areas within companies. But Firstline Workers remain out in the cold here as well. Hotel service staff and people in trade professions are all too familiar with this predicament: They still have to communicate upcoming tasks face-to-face. They simply don’t have access to IT infrastructure that would enable efficient teamwork in a digital setting. But it could all be so easy: The Microsoft apps StaffHub, Teams and Office Online take cooperation between Firstline Workers to a new level.

Creating work rosters, managing tasks, communicating by chat or creating and editing Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote documents in a collaborative environment are child’s play – even with a shared desktop PC, tablet or smartphone. Another advantage: Microsoft F1 Plans are licensed per user, so employees can also run the apps on any personal devices they may carry with them on the job. “Rollout” only involves downloading the app and entering their personalized authentication code.

#3: Overlooking the glaringly obvious

An orderly workstation improves efficiency and enhances quality-of-life. But many Firstline Workers remain swamped by paperwork. Overflowing storage trays, jumbled noticeboards, disorderly stacks and misplaced notes are the consequences of doing without digital helpers. All of this costs time, money and nerves. And it becomes doubly problematic if there are changes to any hard-copy versions: A new print-out or a handwritten note is necessary as soon as the shifts change, work rosters are updated or responsibilities reassigned. It’s everything other than elegant – and certainly not efficient. The paper chase can be made manageable online, of course. But how about giving your Firstline Workers the same (digital) opportunities that their colleagues enjoy on their desktop PCs? Using modern tools to cut stress levels should be among the primary concerns for every employer. After all, Firstline Workers are valuable to your company: They have immense experience, are often the first face to the customer and represent your corporate brand almost more than any other employee group.

#4: Missing tools as a cause for shadow IT

Because Firstline Workers are currently cut off from corporate IT, it is only natural that they will find their own, independent workarounds. So they organize themselves using private tools and apps like WhatsApp, Dropbox or GoogleDocs. An array of calendar apps are equally popular, for instance to share work rosters or free days and to communicate the information to colleagues. Employees use unknown devices or applications in 6 out of 10 German companies. Half of the companies expect the problem to get worse. Almost 40 percent of them have already suffered external attacks with data breaches due to the use of shadow IT (source: zdnet.de). Nobody knows what happens with the data in privately used apps. What’s more, they are not really up to scratch for use in a professional setting. This is why it is so important for IT managers in the company to provide suitable business tools for Firstline Workers.

Integrating your Firstline Workers in the Company

A distinctive feature of an enterprise with a strong corporate culture is that all groups of employees are equally integrated and included in the company. Nobody is left behind – and everyone participates. So while digitization provides management with plenty of opportunities to get the employees involved, it is nevertheless possible that the gaping divide between Firstline Workers and other staff groups will ultimately get wider. Many companies need to take action in this respect. Often, employees without their own stationary PC workstation are not equipped with software tools to cut costs. Recognizing this dilemma, Microsoft has introduced its F1 Plans specifically for this purpose and has tailored their content to the needs of Firstline Workers. You will certainly bring all of your employees into the fold with Office 365 F1 and Microsoft 365 F1. And besides modern and productive methods, you will also enjoy the benefits of greater staff satisfaction when the Firstline Workers feel included and part of the whole.

Looking for More?

Our Unified Communications website contains a collection of all the relevant information.

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  • User Productivity, Unified Communications
  • Firstline Worker, Tips, Future Office

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Erik Moll

Go-to-Market Manager - Americas

Digital Transformation

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