Right now, people working in the field (Firstline workers) are more important than ever - providing essential services upon which we all demand. Aged care workers, nurses, technicians, maintenance experts, retail staff and a whole raft of other Firstline workers have always been relied upon to help people, businesses and critical infrastructure function effectively. And in industries like hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare, these Firstline workers outnumber corporate workers 4-to-1.1
Yet in many instances, Firstline workers don’t have the tools they need to communicate or work efficiently, which can have a significant impact on a small business’ bottom line. In fact, according to a recent study, a lack of worker productivity can cost a business 166 hours, or $4,000 per worker – per year.2
So here are five ways in which a modern collaboration and communication solution like Office 365 or Microsoft Teams for Firstline Workers (a ‘Firstline worker solution’) can eradicate this inefficiency, and deliver the productivity and savings that small businesses need:
For Firstline workers, being able to connect with an office and with other colleagues anywhere and anytime, is essential. With the tools in Microsoft Teams and Office 365, workers can easily collaborate and share information to get a job done in the best way possible.
With the collaboration tools in Microsoft Teams, for instance, an aged care worker can easily consult with other medical professionals or specialists from a patient’s home – so as to provide fast and accurate care. Via Office 365, this same worker can also share and review case notes remotely, without having to return to the office afterwards.
Similarly, a technician providing maintenance to a piece of factory equipment can quickly review instructions on the job at hand, and can share notes or ask senior colleagues questions about a particular fix or process, without having to return to the job site again.
One of the great challenges of managing a Firstline workforce is optimising staff schedules and ensuring that the most suitable workers are always allocated to a job.
With a Firstline worker solution, businesses can manage an entire workforce and the individual hours and workload of specific employees more efficiently – from one, central location.
The supervisor of a head office can, for instance, effectively track a worker’s completion of tasks, and manage or swap schedules based on demand.
Workers can also ‘clock in’ and ‘clock’ out’ from a mobile device – meaning their time can be accurately tracked and reported.
Senior management can also make more informed decisions regarding the efficiency or status of particular jobs, without having to manually collate timesheets and reports.
Performing manual processes – like submitting a case or job report - can be a huge drain on the productivity of a Firstline workforce. A Firstline worker solution can help alleviate this, by automating many of the required updates, and bringing it all together in the one, secure repository.
Following an in-home visit to a patient, for instance, an aged care worker can simply upload notes via an app on their device – without having to drive back to the office to write notes into a specific system. A maintenance worker at a remote power station can enter updates and upload photos regarding the status of certain pieces of machinery – without having to manually write notes in a workbook, and submit them later via email.
For a small business, this equates to enormous time savings, and also eliminates the risk of information being lost or forgotten when it’s entered after a job has been completed.
For a small business, security is always a major risk – exacerbated by the presence of a remote workforce, which often uses a disparate collection of devices. Of the businesses that faced cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months, 11% of the most serious types of incidents involved careless employees.3
Recent research also suggests that 52% of small and mid-size businesses also say employees are their biggest weakness when it comes to IT security.3
With a Firstline worker solution, however, all communication, file sharing and collaboration can take place via the trusted and highly secure Microsoft Azure platform – meaning precious data is safeguarded and protected.
Keeping a remote workforce up to date regarding processes, procedures and other technical details can be extremely time consuming and costly – particularly for businesses that rely on face-to-face training.
With a Firstline worker solution, however, workers can easily participate in both local and company-wide training regarding best practices and products, and can also access relevant handbooks and designs – regardless of where they are working. They can also ensure they’re staying up to date, by using message boards to connect with peers and managers.
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