Enabling Microsoft Teams For The Deskless Worker

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In a world where people sit at desks or can work from home with ease, it’s easy to forget about the 2.1 billion people that are “non-knowledge workers”.

The people who don’t have a desk.

Who can’t run back to their office to answer the phone.

Who deal with vulnerable people or complex cargo shipments.

It’s a completely different way of working.

“We are talking about a potential market of 2.1 billion deskless workers that also needs to be connected.”

  • Alaa Saayed, Frost & Sullivan.

Microsoft is recognising this; and making plenty of steps in the right direction.

Through its Walkie Talkie app and its commitment to certifying DECT solutions to integrate with the Teams SIP gateway, Microsoft is now enabling Teams for the deskless worker.

Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie app

In January 2022, Microsoft made the Walkie Talkie app for Teams generally available. This enables “push to talk” communications like you might be used to on a traditional PBX.

Users of the Walkie Talkie app can now send pager-like voice messages one at a time to members of the same Teams channel by simply pushing a button on their device.

For example, frontline workers—like those on oil rigs or ships—are able to instantly connect with colleagues, assuming there is Wi-Fi or cellular internet connectivity. 

When somebody is needed to attend site, the Walkie Talkie app provides the commonly used push to talk feature without the need for mobile workers carrying around bulky specialist units or having to unlock their devices.

Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie Mode

The Walkie Talkie app supports the following equipment so you don’t need to unlock or log into your device:

  • BlueParrot wireless headset.
  • Klein Electronics wired headset.
  • Rugged Android phones from Crosscall, Kyocera, Samsung, Sonim, and Zebra.

All you need to enable the Walkie Talkie app is a paid Teams license.

Note: as of September 2022, the Walkie Talkie is not available in China.

Microsoft Teams DECT integration

At Enterprise Connect in March 2022, Microsoft announced support for a number of digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) solutions—namely Spectralink, Ascom, Poly. Yealink, and Gigaset.

In July 2022, Spectralink was first to market with its DECT for Microsoft Teams offering. 

Inclusive of the 72 and 75 series (for general office and factory usage), the 76 series (higher-end), and 77 series (healthcare-specific), Spectralink provides a wide range of handsets, base stations, and associated servers for a plethora of use cases.

DECT and mobility uses cases

The entry-level models are ideal for sectors like retail and leisure. In these scenarios, the main needs are mobility and remaining connected.

For example, a shop floor manager may need to authorise a large transaction or refund and is called to do so. They might also need to respond to an irate customer.

Spectralink DECT 72 Series for Microsoft Teams
Spectralink DECT 75 Series for Microsoft Teams

The alternative (without a solution for a deskless worker) is for the store assistant to wander around several floors looking for a supervisor to diffuse the situation.

When a business has moved to Microsoft Teams for voice, leaving out your most mobile (and often most important) staff makes no sense.

DECT and bespoke use cases

In healthcare scenarios like care homes or surgeries, the option to install Teams on a personal mobile won’t cut it.

With niche requirements like cleanability and motion detection, healthcare operators moving to Teams for voice capabilities before had to abandon ship on their implementation or leave deskless workers disconnected from the rest of their team.

One crucial example of the DECT need in healthcare is patient monitoring. In an emergency scenario, there is simply no option for a nurse to return to their desk or find the nearest common area phone.

But the option for Wi-Fi enabled or 3G/4G devices is obsolete due to the nature of the distance and environment of healthcare settings.

(How many times have you been in a hospital only to have no phone signal?)

Instead, a handset like the Spectralink 77 series is resistant to disinfectants and comes with an easy to clean keypad membrane, making it ideal for environments where hygiene is paramount.

The DECT server and base station is completely independent of your network, and powers long-lasting handsets with unique features like:

  • Tear-off pull chord alarms and alarm sensors for emergencies
  • “Man-down” alarms if no movement is detected
  • Secure two-way messaging
  • Integration with nurse call or equipment monitoring systems
Spectralink DECT 76 Series for Microsoft Teams
Spectralink DECT 77 Series for Microsoft Teams

More vendors are expected to launch similar Teams DECT solutions by the end of 2022. Keep your eyes on the Teams DECT page for new arrivals.

As Microsoft continues its initiatives to support and empower deskless workers, the Walkie Talkie app and DECT integration are great first steps for businesses looking to go all-in on Microsoft Teams.

There are seemingly less and less reasons not to go all-in on Teams Voice as opposed to committing 75% of your teams and leaving the rest lagging behind.

Hats off to Microsoft for empowering not only the desk worker; but those without a desk too.

Thank you to our guest author of this article

Andy Macqueen

An experienced new route to market planner and executor, Andy has worked with a variety of communications vendors initially as a lone contributor through to run direct and virtual teams to build net new revenue streams. Recently, after working on building and leading the European channel launch for the Cisco UCS virtualized server, he covered senior Business Development roles in Blackford Analysis and Spectralink Corporation where he is now EMEA Business Development Director.

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