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Microsoft's Office 365 StaffHub Service Goes Live

The worldwide rollout of Microsoft's new Office 365 StaffHub scheduling service began on Thursday.

StaffHub is an employee scheduling service designed for managing the schedules of so-called "deskless workers," who may be doing shift work with varying dates and times. It's currently available at no extra cost to subscribers of Office 365 plans K1, E1, E3 and E5 and published in 15 languages, according to Microsoft's announcement.

StaffHub is now at "general availability," having been introduced as a preview back in September. Microsoft conceives of its use by "hotels, restaurants, retail stores," as well as the construction and manufacturing industries.

The StaffHub service is turned on by default for subscribers to the qualified Office 365 plans. IT pros with global administrative privileges can turn it off using the StaffHub management portal, which is located at staffhub.ms/admin. However, blocking it disables StaffHub across the organization, Microsoft explained, in an "Overview" support article. The StaffHub management portal has a "self-provision accounts" toggle button that will automatically provision the accounts, but employees need to be covered under the Office 365 account to be part of a StaffHub group.

Managers get a Web-based calendar that's color-coded to show employee shifts with the StaffHub service. They can copy one month's schedule to the next month and make changes when planning shifts. They can then hit a "publish" button to make the calendar available to workers. The published schedule gets automatically pushed out to the team.

The service also has an e-mail-like messaging service that works with mobile applications, including Android and iOS devices. The service permits one-to-one messaging, one-to-many messaging and team messaging, according of a Microsoft video on StaffHub. Workers can swap shifts using the messaging service, with confirmation by a manager. StaffHub also supports file uploads to users, as well as "rich media" presentations.

Microsoft has designed the StaffHub service to work with other software systems. For instance, Microsoft's announcement pointed to StaffHub's ability to connect to solutions produced by Kronos, which makes employee management and "human capital management cloud solutions." The StaffHub and Kronos integration is currently at the private preview stage.

Microsoft also has a similar employee scheduling service for small businesses called Microsoft Bookings, which works with calendar applications such as Outlook, Outlook.com and Google Calendar to show employee shifts. Bookings, which is currently available in the United States and Canada for Office 365 Business Premium subscribers, seems a bit different from StaffHub in that it lets external customers directly schedule appointments with staff, if that's permitted by the organization. In contrast, StaffHub seems built more as an internal tool seen by managers and employees only.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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