As businesses begin to look beyond the coronavirus pandemic toward a time of recovery and optimism, millions of Canadians are returning to the workplace. However, it looks as if things will never quite be the same again as the traditional office-based model is evolving.

Statistics show that 61% of Canadian workers believe remote work or a hybrid office is the preferable option.

If this is to be the new normal in the Canadian workplace, business owners will need to work hard — and quickly — to support these innovative working practices. This is where Microsoft’s Return to Workplace solution will provide a real benefit to businesses of all kinds.

What Is Microsoft’s Return to Workplace Solution?

The Return to Workplace solution is an application that is designed to assist business owners and human resources professionals as they ready their teams for a return to an office-based environment.

At first glance, this may appear to be working against the tide of public opinion. If a majority of Canadian workers now want to see a remote or hybrid working model, how does a return to the workplace solution support this?

In fact, Return to Workplace is supporting this new way of doing business in a number of ways:

  • Reducing the anxiety that team members may feel about returning to work
  • Helping to ensure that office-based work remains a viable option for businesses moving forward — hybrid working models require an office-based component, after all
  • Helping operational and human resources teams work more efficiently so that resources are available to support remote-based work components

How Does the Microsoft Return to Workplace App Work?

Microsoft’s Return to Workplace solution is part of Microsoft’s Power Platform — a suite of solutions designed to assist organizations as they meet the evolving needs of businesses.

The latest version of the Microsoft Return to Workplace App is geared toward supporting organizations as they strive to achieve the requisite standards of safety and compliance as they welcome employees back to the office.

In order to achieve this, the Return to Workplace solution includes the following features:

  • Management and tracking capabilities to provide valuable insight to businesses
  • Self-service check-in and check-out tools for employees
  • Room reservation tools, enabling businesses to limit the capacity of key working areas
  • Tracing features that offer light contact alerts
  • Incident reporting capabilities to provide additional peace of mind during return to work

The Four Pillars of the Return to Workplace Solution

The Return to Workplace solution is built upon four main pillars, each of which is geared toward supporting businesses during the COVID-19 recovery phase.

These four pillars are:

Location Readiness

Microsoft’s solution includes tools to help human resources staff ensure that all working areas are ready to be used once again and to manage the ongoing safety and compliance of these areas. This is achieved via the Location Readiness dashboard, which provides a unified and centralized location from which to oversee readiness. This dashboard draws upon real-time data to assess risk levels and to check that all employee teams have the supplies they need to do their job safely and with maximum efficacy.

Facility safety tools also support this aim. As facility managers reopen workspaces and manage the return of personnel, they can use the application’s tools to monitor this process with care and precision. Data is received, analyzed and acted upon in real-time, ensuring the safety of personnel at every turn.

Workplace Care Management

The safety of the workforce is paramount during this recovery phase, and business owners will need to be able to equip health and safety leaders with the tools they need. This is accomplished via workplace care management tools, including tools to identify critical safety requirements in specific areas, data import and export to achieve ongoing case management, and contact tracing capabilities.

All of this is facilitated via the Workplace Care Management Dashboard, providing a centralized digital location for monitoring and assessment.

Employee Health and Safety Management

Employees need to feel confident that they are being protected when they return to work. Not only this, but they also need the right self-service tools at their fingertips. Employee Return to the Workplace tools provide this, enabling teams to check-in and check-out on a self-service basis, as well as checking in remotely and self-screening before they enter the working area.

This capability is extended by the Return to the Workplace portal. Through this portal, third parties are able to enjoy the same functionality as direct employees. Any visitors to the workplace are able to check-in via an invitation delivered through the app, and then self-screen before entering the premises. Your team can manage invitations and then add guests via the portal, too.

Location Management

Teams enjoy comprehensive management of all locations around the site, limiting access and opening and closing areas as and when required. This is critical to the ongoing confidence and comfort of employees working onsite. It’s also key to the facility’s regulatory compliance during this recovery stage.

Who Is a Good Fit for the Return to Workplace Solution?

The Return to the Workplace solution is designed for organizations of all kinds that have experienced disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s more, it is intended to provide a more data-focused, digitally-driven way of working as we enter a new normal.

Whether you have had to close your office premises completely and now want to welcome your teams back to the workplace, or if you are seeking to adopt a hybrid working model for your business, the Return to Workplace set of tools can help. Even if you have experienced minimal disruption during the pandemic, you will find that the additional insight and capability offered by Microsoft’s solution is invaluable moving forward.

The Benefits of the Solution

There are a number of different benefits associated with Microsoft’s Power Platform and the Return to Workplace app. These include:

  • Data integration, providing insight into COVID-19 rates in your area
  • Notifications to keep everyone on the same page
  • Self-service options for employees and third parties
  • Comprehensive insight via powerful dashboards
  • A range of tools and capabilities to maintain safety and compliance

How Softlanding Can Help with Microsoft Return to Workplace Integration

Let Softlanding help you integrate the Power Platform and Return to Workplace app with your business’s systems. We are a Microsoft Gold partner with years of experience in helping businesses get the very best from these solutions. Reach out today and let’s begin.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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