Microsoft Teams Makes a Play for Retail and Service Sectors

Microsoft Teams Makes a Play for Retail and Service Sectors

Workplace collaboration platforms are already an office staple for professionals working “desk jobs” in fields like technology and media, but these tools are less common among frontline employees in hands-on roles. Nearly two years after its global launch, Microsoft’s workplace collaboration platform Teams has added a series of new features to improve its functionality for workers in fields like retail, hospitality, healthcare, and manufacturing. The latest upgrade was rolled out last week, GeekWire’s Nat Levy reported, including:

  • [A] new customizable mobile experience comes with a series of features specifically for workers on the go, such as location sharing, smart camera and the ability to record and share audio messages.
  • Teams will now include a template to help IT managers grant individual employees access to the features they need.
  • Microsoft is working on a set of APIs, which will debut in public preview later this quarter, that will allow companies to integrate workforce management tools that handle things like scheduling and payroll directly into Teams.
  • Coming later this quarter, Microsoft is enabling a Praise feature, which allows employers to call out important contributions from workers.

This announcement comes just a few months after Microsoft showcased a series of new features for “first-line” workers at its Ignite developer conference in September. These included scheduling tools that enable users create and share schedules, swap shifts, request time off, and access announcements from their employers. Microsoft also revealed that it had a secure patient care coordination tool in private preview as part of an effort to bring Teams into the health care field.

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June Job Openings Survey Shows Robust US Hiring Market

June Job Openings Survey Shows Robust US Hiring Market

Strong jobs reports in June and July have done much to calm fears that the US economy could head into a recession this year. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for June, just released on Wednesday, gives more detail about the labor market and appears to confirm the story of fairly steady economic growth, the Associated Press reports:

The number of job openings rose a modest 2 percent to 5.6 million in June from 5.5 million in May, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Still, that figure remains below the 5.8 million openings advertised in April, the highest on records going back 16 years. Hiring increased 1.7 percent in June to 5.1 million, a solid level but below a recent peak of 5.5 million in February.

Businesses are hiring at a healthy pace even as economic growth has lagged, in part because the workforce has become less productive. The economy expanded at an annual rate of just 1 percent in the first half of the year, though analysts expect growth to accelerate to about a 3 percent annual rate in the current July-September quarter. … “We see no sign of any downturn, suggesting employers remain fundamentally bullish,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, a forecasting firm.

It’s not all good news, though. Andrew Soergel at US News and World Report notes that “a sizable chunk of June’s openings were concentrated in what are often low-paying service industries”:

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