Return to work - Office space distancing
Published May 11 2020 02:09 PM 40.9K Views

All industries are making great strides over the last few months to ensure employees could return to work safely while maintaining social distance. As the country now seeks to re-open the economy, the essential step becomes testing and limiting the number of people who could return to work safely. The leaders today are thinking more about employees, families and communities. The pandemic warrants a new way to think of rebuilding operations, modernize productivity platforms and embrace these new technologies.


The learnings from this pandemic will make organizations rethink how office buildings are designed for future and shared spaces that could be structured. While employees across divisions are learning how to utilize these modern technologies such as Microsoft Teams, the need for a limited workforce to be present at office locations will continue for a certain time. This requirement has created an additional burden on organizational leaders, particularly facilities and logistics division.


One solution is to use Shifts in Microsoft Teams, which is a schedule management tool that helps you create, update, and manage schedules for your team. The same platform could help facilities and office managers to manage and limit employees to work based on location.


It works on Teams mobile, desktop and web


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Key features include:

  • Office managers share available spaces to the employees based on location or floor, where employees reserve spaces on a first-come, first-serve basis, or after approval.
  • Office managers to let departments manage allocated spaces. Departmental managers coordinate across their teams and help central response teams track status across an organization.
  • Office managers to let the department admins manage the open spaces.
  • Office managers to publish a list of suggested activities during the day the employee will be onsite.
  • Employees could simply swap their spaces via mobile device in case they cannot visit the office.
  • Employees interact with office managers and report any incidents that need attention.
  • Facilities bot to help get answers questions and engage the expert as needed.
  • Office managers to send location-specific communications to employees.


UPDATE: Check out Blog 2 for videos and advanced scenarios


Enable Microsoft Shifts 

Shifts comes with every Teams license (no additional cost) and your IT admin has the option to roll this solution in your environment very quickly. For simplicity of use the admin can pin the app on the mobile device as part of the app policies for simple discoverability. We hope this method will help with a facilities team to manage the social distancing requirements. Review below links for more details on enabling this solution.

  • Review details about Microsoft Shifts
  • Review details on how to enable Microsoft Shifts
  • Graph API for advanced scenarios
  • Sample Teams App templates
  • Advanced scenarios such as connectors, auto approval and flows


Desktop/web view for the approverDesktop/web view for the approver

End-users can access the schedule from any deviceEnd-users can access the schedule from any device


Facilities communicator bot

Facilities management teams can keep employees informed using a version of the Company Communicator Bot in spirit of using an outbound messaging strategy to better share information and cut down on any confusion related to coming back to work. Here's an example of an announcement:


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Facilities bot for FAQs and Incident Reporting

In spirit of closing the loop for a two-way communication with the employees, you can consider spinning up a Facilities Bot that allows end-users to ask questions, reach out to the facilities team, and/or report an incident


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Our thoughts are with the people affected and essential service professionals working around the clock to help those in need and help each of us and our families. As they are working hard, we hope this solution will help office managers open their offices while maintaining social distance guidelines.



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 Pradeep Bethi, Customer Success Director for Healthcare and Lifesciences 



Vasu Sharma, Customer Success Manager for Healthcare and Lifesciences 



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Kensington Schmidt, Customer Program Manager - Firstline Workers, Microsoft Teams


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Amir Cory, Principal Product Manager - Firstline Workers, Microsoft Teams


Related posts

*Note: This list will be update periodically over the next several days




Remote Teamwork with Microsoft Teams 

Crisis Management Portal 

Company Communicator 

Crisis Communicator 

Introduction and Microsoft Response to COVID-19 

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Last update:
‎May 29 2020 09:50 AM
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