Microsoft has taken another step towards serving teams and workers who are not tied to a single desk all day with the launch of StaffHub for Office 365.

The new service is aimed at teams in construction, manufacturing, retail and other industries, who do not tend to work at desktop computers, or have different schedules from week to week, giving them one place for all the information they require about their work schedule.

Bryan Goode, Microsoft Office 365 General Manager believes that addressing the needs of shift workers with a software platform like StaffHub will support businesses to benefit from the advantages of instant communication tools.

“There’s half a billion frontline staff workers in the world,” he says. “Most companies, though, haven’t actually provided digital tools for these folks…but companies are starting to recognize the benefits of moving some of these offline processes and taking them online.”

So what can businesses do with StaffHub?

First off, Managers can take advantage of a variety of features to distinguish the types of shifts employees work. Ranging from custom labels, like “day,” “opening,” “night,” etc., to colour coding. They can also enter in notes about the work that needs to be done during the shift in question.

For ease duplicating shifts over a number of weeks, StaffHub makes this simple by offering a “Copy last schedule” feature that lets managers use the prior week’s shift as a starting point before making changes.

Schedules can be viewed by day, week or month, as needed, and the program has tools for handling common requests, like time off, vacations, sick leave and more.

Using StaffHub with its companion mobile app, available on Android and iOS, employees can access their shift details at any time, see updates, swap shifts & request leave.

Where StaffHub becomes even more interesting is in its ability to act like Slack.

Employees can chat privately one-on-one in the app, and multiple chat groups can be hosted too. Enabling quicker and smother communications between dispersed teams.

The chats also support photo and file sharing, which could be useful for sharing internal resources like an employee handbook or passing on a pic of a situation that needs a managers input.

StaffHub is available from 12th January 2017 for Office 365 customers with E1, E3 or E5 plans. Each team member and manager using StaffHub needs to have an Office 365 account.