Microsoft launches StaffHub to connect deskless workers – PCWorld

Microsoft is taking another step toward serving workers who aren’t at computers all day with a new Office 365 service launched Thursday. StaffHub, which is part of the company’s enterprise productivity offering, allows managers to set schedules for deskless workers like retail employees and service technicians.

The service is designed to let managers set schedules for and distribute company resources to employees through a simple interface. Employees can use the service to swap shifts with one another and chat, too.

The new offering is part of Microsoft’s push to expand usage of Office 365. While the cloud productivity service has had a strong following among knowledge workers, it has traditionally held less utility for people who aren’t editing Word documents and sending emails through Outlook all day.

Each StaffHub user, whether they’re an employee or manager, will need a subscription to the cloud productivity service. For deskless workers, enterprises can purchase Microsoft’s Office 365 K1 plan, which costs $5 per user per month, and doesn’t include access to the Office desktop apps. StaffHub is also available through Microsoft’s E1, E3, and E5 plans.

StaffHub also puts Microsoft in competition with companies like Zinc, which are trying to focus on deskless workers like service techs and retail employees, and which are using Microsoft’ historical lack of focus on that sector as part of their pitch.

At launch, StaffHub will be available through a web portal, along with Android and iOS apps. Bryan Goode, the general manager of Office 365, said in an interview that Microsoft had worked closely with the customers for StaffHub, and decided to release on those platforms first, but may expand to others in the future.

Managers will be able to set schedules for their employees using a graphical interface where they can block out time for shifts and assign particular people to each one on a color-coded calendar. Those schedules are then pushed to employees through the StaffHub mobile app.

In the event something comes up, employees can also request to swap shifts with one another. That request first goes to the employee and is then sent off to a manager for final sign-off.

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