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In my work at Microsoft, I can’t imagine being disconnected from email, Skype, internal network resources and other tools that are integral to collaborating with colleagues and doing my job. Yet that’s exactly the work environment of government employees who perform important services in the field, such as supporting parks and recreation activities, collecting garbage and recyclables, and maintaining municipal utilities.

Federal, state and local government field workers typically don’t have an office, desk or computer, making it difficult to access and share important work-day information. Far too often these employees rely on old processes and manual tools—endless printing of paper schedules, bulletin boards crammed with notes, and a flurry of phone calls and text messages to cover shifts. That’s about to change with Microsoft StaffHub, the go-to app for on-the-go staff to be more efficient, effective and successful in their jobs. This new Office 365* tool works on iOS and Android devices—particularly phones—enabling field workers and their managers to coordinate, communicate and share content in the cloud. For example, these employees and their managers can use Microsoft StaffHub to:

    • Manage schedules
    • Share information
    • Communicate within and across teams
    • Connect to other work-related apps and resources.

Scheduling and exchanging information

Computer screen with a schedule on itFirst announced in January, Microsoft StaffHub is especially useful for government organizations that manage field workers since it can be installed on agency or employee-owned devices. By simply downloading the app onto their smartphones, staff members can view schedules, swap shifts, request time off, find information and catch up with their colleagues, either one-on-one or with the entire workgroup. In addition to schedule management and information sharing, Microsoft StaffHub allows government employees in the field to access workforce management systems or internal applications and resources, such as HR systems.

Imagine there’s a need to urgently respond to citizen feedback about a tree that’s blocking a road. A manager that has Microsoft StaffHub could quickly assign the closest frontline personnel to expedite the response. Managers also can:

    • Create schedules, approve employee requests and share information, keeping everyone informed and up to date.
    • Quickly distribute relevant agency information, such as policy documents, news bulletins or videos.
    • Send a quick message regarding an urgent requirement. For example, if there’s a downed tree in a park, a manager could assign employees to address the problem by typing a message and requesting an expedited response.
    • Add or remove workers from the team while IT admins can turn the app on or off at any time.

Responding to government customer input

Hand holding a mobile device with a wrench in the backgroundMicrosoft StaffHub is a direct response to feedback we heard from government agencies that struggled to stay connected with employees working outside in “deskless” environments. Microsoft partnered with the University of Washington Foster School of Business to study these challenges, sharing the outcome with our engineers. The result is Microsoft StaffHub, which I’m very excited for government organizations to deploy and empower their workers in the field. Please:

*Microsoft StaffHub currently is available in Office 365 Enterprise (K1, E1, E3, and E5) but is not yet available in Office 365 U.S. Government or Microsoft Azure Germany.