Technology Record - Issue 28: Spring 2023

170 FEATURE Microsoft Teams also offers multiple applications, including Tasks, to help leadership teams coordinate and manage store operations at scale from one central platform. UK-based fashion brand River Island, for instance, has replaced its multi-step process for allocating tasks across more than 300 physical stores by adopting Tasks in Teams underpinned by Microsoft Planner and Microsoft To Do. Now, head office can share a list of tasks for store managers to delegate to their team members, who will each receive a personalised task list in their Teams app. They can tick items once they have been completed, while store managers can monitor progress using real-time analytics dashboards. River Island also uses the Shifts feature to streamline and automate staffing and schedule management via Teams. Other notable Shifts users include US-based jewellery lifestyle brand Kendra Scott, UK-based firm Boots Opticians, and Swedish furniture company Ikea, which predicts that the app could save SEK364,000 ($35,490) in its flagship store in Stockholm alone. “Frontline workers are constantly switching between various tasks and interacting with different customers throughout the day, so digital technology must be seamlessly integrated into their workflow to be useful and effective,” says Minbiole. “Being able to access multiple applications directly from within Teams makes it easy for workers to communicate and collaborate while fulfilling their daily tasks and delivering enhanced customer experiences.” Building a better culture Retailers can also use digital technology to create an inclusive and supportive culture where frontline workers can grow and thrive. “Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index highlights that 51 per cent of employees in non-management positions do not feel valued as employees and that 62 per cent of frontline workers think leadership teams don’t prioritise building a workplace culture,” says Minbiole. “Retailers are missing a trick here – when they actively engage frontline workers and give them a sense of purpose, they become more motivated. This often translates to them delivering better customer experiences, driving greater sales and more.” Microsoft Viva, which can be accessed from within Teams, brings together communications, knowledge, insights and resources in one integrated platform to help retailers create a thriving workplace culture. Features include Viva Engage, which offers a Storylines tab where employees can showcase work and share and celebrate personal updates, as well as a Leadership Corner that facilitates two-way conversations between leaders and their teams. Leaders can create dedicated campaign pages to drive key initiatives and also start Ask Me Anything events to enable all employees to join inclusive, virtual ‘town hall’ meetings. “Viva Engage bridges the gap between leadership, desk-based and frontline workers, providing an inclusive social space where everyone can interact, join company-wide discussions, celebrate successes and more,” says Minbiole. “It strengthens bonds between colleagues, makes individuals feel like they’re playing an active role in shaping the future of the organisation, and ensures they feel valued when their hard work is recognised.” Frontline workers can also use Viva applications to upskill and share knowledge with co-workers. Viva Learning, for instance, enables them to complete required and recommended training, while the Answers tab allows them to ask questions, crowdsource knowledge from across the organisation and connect with subject matter experts. “If an employee is struggling to complete a task, they can quickly find the answer they need or directly contact a knowledgeable co-worker to resolve the issue and continue working productively,” says Minbiole. “They can also use Viva to share feedback that may help others.” Powerful partnerships Microsoft is collaborating with its extensive ecosystem of partners to ensure its tools and technologies reach the hands of every retail employee. One such partner is digital, cloud and advisory services provider Avanade. “Together we’re capturing workplace insights from leading retailers and analysing them to design key experiences around moments that matter most to employees,” says Minbiole. “This covers everything from improving employee wellbeing to communication, knowledge Photo: Microsoft