Microsoft has introduced new joint offerings with industry partners as well as capabilities specifically designed to support frontline workers in Teams and Viva, Microsoft’s employee experience platform introduced in early 2021.

Microsoft is deepening its strategic relationship with Zebra Technologies Corp., a world leader in innovative digital solutions, including software and hardware such as rugged Android mobile computers for the frontline workforce.

The two companies are delivering the Teams Walkie Talkie app on a wide range of Zebra mobile computers, including a dedicated push-to-talk (PTT) button to access Teams Walkie Talkie functionality on Zebra devices. In addition, Teams Walkie Talkie digital PTT is now available on all iOS mobile devices in addition to Android.

The company is also enhancing Teams’ integration with Zebra Reflexis, which connects the Reflexis Workforce Management solutions with the Shifts application in Teams. This new integration streamlines shift scheduling and time off requests in Teams, making them easy for managers to approve.

Scheduled queuing for virtual appointments is now available in Teams, providing one location for real-time updates on wait times, missed appointments and staffing delays to create a transparent and stress-free experience for customers and patients.

The Viva Connections app in Microsoft Teams links frontline workers to company culture, resources and tools, news and employee resource groups in the flow of work. Integrations with strategic partners such as Workday and Espressive make accessing important resources easier and put actions like payroll and HR resources in one location.

In addition, the Viva Learning app enables frontline employees to discover, share and track learning content right from Microsoft Teams — making it easier for a company’s entire workforce to stay up to date on required and recommended training.

New updates make it easier to assign learning from partner solutions like SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand and Saba Cloud. And partnerships with learning providers like EdCast and OpenSesame enable an extensive content library to help frontline workers upskill and train with relevant learning content in the flow of work.

For IT, improved device management helps ensure that misplaced shared devices can be easily secured and located.

“It’s no secret that the pandemic is reshaping work for all workers, and at a faster pace than we have ever seen,” says Emma Williams, corporate vice-president of Microsoft. “Empowering frontline workers remains essential for digital transformation.

“Together with our partners we’re equipping frontline workers with tools that allow them to stay connected with their team and company leadership while concentrating on the customer or job at hand. If done well, we believe technology can modernise workflows and enhance job performance while also improving workplace culture and communication.”

In other news, Microsoft Cloud for Retail will be generally available from 1 February.

Microsoft Cloud for Retail accelerates business growth by providing trusted retail industry solutions that integrate with retailers’ existing systems. It starts by unifying disparate data sources across the end-to-end shopper journey, allowing retailers to maximise the value of their data, resulting in one holistic view of the consumer.

Once connected, data and AI help retailers better understand and elevate the consumer shopping experience. In providing more relevant and streamlined experiences throughout the retail value chain, retailers can build a real-time sustainable supply chain.

The solution also includes the Teams and Viva capabilities announced today, all working toward empowering store associates.