Fostering flexibility and camaraderie
Even as its IT environment improved, glassybaby still struggled with coordinating schedules and providing a single hub for teamwork for its firstline workers. The company looked at HotSchedules and other scheduling apps but found them too difficult to use or too expensive. When glassybaby heard about capabilities in Office 365 that could simplify schedule management, it fell in love.
“The schedule management capabilities in Office 365 were absolutely perfect for us,” Fredman says. “The technology is incredibly simple to use, was included in our Office 365 licensing, and met the needs of our scheduling executive, store managers, and firstline retail staff.”
Firstline workers can access Office 365 apps from any device to post and check schedules, swap shifts, share content, and chat with coworkers. Managers can send messages to one person or the entire team.
“Many of our retail staff are high school and college students, and they are all about mobile apps. Office 365 apps are perfect for millennials,” Fredman says. “They love how easy Microsoft technology is to use and that they can dynamically interact with their work schedules. They don’t have to track down colleagues’ phone numbers; everyone is reachable in Office 365.”
An employee can send out a message: “I have class until 4:00 PM on Tuesday; can anyone cover for me?” When a teammate responds (and someone always does), the requesting employee asks his or her manager for the swap approval, and once the manager taps “OK,” the schedule is updated in real time for all to see.
For employees that need extra help managing their calendars, Office 365 serves as a handy personal assistant, pinging them with reminders: “Tracy, remember that you have a shift starting in 15 minutes.” And they don’t have to wonder who they’re working with, they receive an automatic reminder that tells them.
“With Office 365, we empower our firstline employees to solve scheduling problems themselves,” says Fredman. “It relieves them of schedule adjustment anxieties and frustrations; they just pull out their phone and tap. This lets them focus on interacting with customers.”
It has also turned into a time saver. “Office 365 frees up between three and six hours a week that store managers can transfer to doing more employee training, customer outreach, or event planning,” she says.
Fredman says that firstline employees use Office 365 to do more than arrange shift swaps; they use it as chat forum for talking about work and non-work topics, such as weekend plans, which fosters an esprit de corps and what Fredman calls “mind meld”—frequent sharing among colleagues.
“We’re a family at glassybaby, and we can use Office 365 to help keep all our staff on the same page and provide a way to share ideas and encouragement,” she says. “Office 365 helps us maintain our close culture and efficiency in the face of rapid growth.”
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