Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has dubbed Microsoft Teams it’s “hub for teamwork in Office 365”. However, they were left red faced last week when it transpired they had forgotten to renew an authentication certificate associated with the service. That memory lapse managed to topple the popular group chat and collaboration software, disabling access to the service for 3 hours. Interestingly, this embarassing faux pas has coincided with the first TV commercials being aired stateside for the application during the recent NFL playoffs. The same ad campaign will be rolled out in Europe next month as Microsoft continue to apply serious pressure to Slack, it’s main rival in the group chat space.

End of life for Skype for Business

Despite this temporary blip Microsoft are on track to dominate a market they only entered 2 years ago when they launched Microsoft Teams. We’ve reported previously on how Microsoft hit a daily average user count of 13 million in July 2019. That figure mushroomed to a reported 20 million DAU count in November 2019. Moreover, it’s now used in 500,000 organisations, including 91 of the Fortune 100. Hey, you use Skype for Business though, why should you care? Well, Microsoft Teams is the evolutionary path for Skype for Business users which will literally ‘hang up’ on July 31 2021.

Empowering firstline workers

Microsoft defines firstline workers as service or task orientated employees who work on shifts. An example could be a sales associate at a retail store or a factory worker on a production line. Microsoft estimates that there are 2 billion workers employed in these roles and they want to empower your mobile workforce with Microsoft Teams.

One company embracing Microsoft Teams is IKEA who have 160,000 firstline workers worldwide. In one store they have managed to save £30,000 annually by transitioning shift management into Microsoft Teams. Managers can perform administrative tasks for entire shifts. Want Bob to perform a clean-up on ailse 3? No problem, just message him. Need to remind the whole team about the fire drill on Tuesday morning? Send a group message. There’s also increased engagement from workers who can now view upcoming shifts, request time off or even swap shifts with co-workers.

Evolution of the modern workplace

Undoubtably, Microsoft Teams is here to stay. It’s the long term successor to Skype for Business, more feature rich and already cutting it’s teeth successfully on real business problems. It may well have a huge impact on the way you conduct business in your workplace if your organisation chooses to adopt Office 365.

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New study finds workplace education key to successful mental health strategy

Findings from a recent worldwide study conducted by Ipsos MORI have highlighted worrying levels of under-reporting in relation to mental health issues within the workplace. Nearly 4,000 employees from the UK, US, Australia and Canada took part in the survey commissioned by Teladoc Health.

Collated data from survey respondents provided clear indication that tackling mental health issues within the workplace remains extremely challenging. The headline statistic revealed that 82% of employees diagnosed with a mental health condition had not told their employer. Reasons cited for secrecy indicate the stigma associated with mental health issues remains high: 38% feared their career would be damaged, 22% worried that their professional reputation would be harmed, 21% were embarrassed and 17% believed their abilities may be questioned. A staggering 10% feared that disclosing a mental health issue could lead to dismissal.

Undoubtedly concerning results, especially when HSE figures in recent years highlight the rise in work-related stress and mental illness. In 2019 the HSE published data showing over 50% of lost days through illness could be attributed to either workplace anxiety or depression. The dominance of mental health issues were recorded for the first time in the 2017/18 HSE figures and this trend looks set to continue. More specifically, 12.69 million days were lost to mental health related issues in the UK during this period, accounting for 54% of the 23.5 million days lost overall. However, there may be some signs of encouragement as the most recent figures show a drop in both total lost days and stress related days from the prior year.

Justin Tomlinson, the UK Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work recently asserted: "We lose an estimated 300,000 people a year through mental health conditions and it is crystal clear that by using early intervention within the workplace it is significantly easier to support someone than once they’ve crashed out to try to rebuild their confidence to get them back into work.

“We need to increase the capacity of health support workers, not just for large organisations… but for those small and medium businesses that make up 40% of the private sector jobs.”

Tomlinson's desire to increase mental health support and education are echoed by the findings of the Ipsos MORI report. Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of increased workplace support and education: 43% believed not enough was being done in their workplace to increase awareness of mental health issues and 55% wanted improvements to mental health provision in their workplace.

The study also revealed that an open and transparent attitude to mental health in the workplace would help to normalise issues and increases employee confidence. Half of respondents believed if management were more open about their mental health issues it would help to alleviate the associated stigma. Around 45% of those surveyed affirmed that they would seek workplace help with mental health issues if there was a more open attitude to issues where they worked.

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