Xerox introduces app to support hybrid workforce needs


The quick-to-deploy tool is aimed at organizations that need to keep on top of employee availability during a pandemic, the company says.

The Xerox Team Availability App.

Image: Xerox

As parts of the country attempt to reopen amid a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, enterprises are turning to tech to manage hybrid workforces.

IT decision-makers from global companies expect a phased return in the next year and a half, with 82% of employees on average expected back to the office in that time, according to Xerox research. The company this week introduced an app that can update employee availability and location in real time.

The Xerox Team Availability App, available from the App Store and Google Play Store, can be utilized in healthcare, retail, government, and financial services, as well as in sectors including manufacturing, telecommunications, airline, and hospitality, according to the company. 

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“Knowing where and whether employees are working is critical to managing flexible work environments, where the percentage of employees sharing time between home and work locations grows,” the company said in a news release.

Xerox said it was rolling out the app internally to understand whether employees meet daily health criteria associated with COVID-19 to manage its phased approach to returning to the workplace safely.

The app quickly maps the availability and status of an employee population across locations in seconds for swift decision-making, the company said.

“Managing a distributed workforce during a continued pandemic presents unique challenges no organization has experienced before,” said Joanne Collins Smee, EVP and chief commercial, SMB and channels officer, Xerox, in a statement.

“Organizations need to know who is available and where so they can make better decisions when allocating resources and work,” Smee added. “This tool provides real-time knowledge to managers with distributed employee populations.”

According to Xerox research, organizations are actively supporting and investing in technology solutions for a hybrid workforce. More than half of respondents (58%) in a Future of Work survey said they would change their work-from-home policy within the next year. 

Even so, the acceptance of such a distributed workforce has exposed some technology gaps, the research found, with companies increasing investment in remote technology resources (55%) or a hybrid of remote and in-office resources (40%).

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

Xerox maintains its app has a speed advantage over other technology management tools that may take weeks to implement, saying the Team Availability App is ready in “just hours.”

UK’s Imperial NHS Trust was the first organization to pilot the app to access the status of essential workers across the Trust and its newly assigned locations at the height of the pandemic, Xerox said. 

Officials with the organization said in a news release that the app “was deployed at lightning speed, and we got updates from staff on their availability in real-time. As a result, we could always make sure our patients were covered.”

Xerox said its app is a GDPR-compliant SaaS offering with a subscription-based model.

Once populated, the company said, the app provides authorized users with customizable and privacy-protected data for strategic decision making.

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Salesforce introduces Anywhere app and employee service solution at TrailheaDX 2020


The products aim to boost collaboration and communication among the newly adapted remote workforce.

During the virtual version of Salesforce TrailheaDX 2020, executives announced the Salesforce Anywhere app and a new employee service solution. Both products aim to help improve collaboration within workforces as they adapt to the new normal of remote work, the company said. 

SEE: Network security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

“We we all know, in early 2020, this year, the COVID-19 virus began to sweep across the world, forcing billions of people to shelter in place and businesses to rapidly pivot into a new way of engaging with their customers and Salesforce,” said Sarah Franklin, EVP and GM of platform, trailhead, and developers at Salesforce, during a press briefing on Wednesday. 

Franklin referenced two Salesforce initiatives that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. The first was the execution of Salesforce Care, a free rapid response solution for organizations that had to shift remote. The second introduced, which provides a set of solutions to help business and communities reopen safely. 

On Monday, Salesforce introduced a partnership with Siemens. The collaboration combined Salesforce’s, powered by Customer 360, and Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure solutions, including Comfy and Enlighted, to deliver an ecosystem that forges safe, connected workspaces, it said. 

“Today, we’re here to talk about entering phase three: Growth,” Franklin said in the briefing. 

“The pandemic has made organizations aware that if they don’t have a digital presence, they’re not going to survive,” Franklin noted. “It’s very clear that digital is an imperative and working digitally from anywhere is critical for business continuity. Companies are adapting to new work cultures with higher percentages of remote workers and virtual meetings events. We’re emerging from those being secondary options to being the main way that people work.”

The two new solutions announced on Wednesday contribute to this next phase, helping to make remote collaboration easy, Franklin said. 

Salesforce Anywhere app and employee service solution 

Salesforce Anywhere “is a set of solutions for helping companies move to this all digital, work-from-anywhere world,” Franklin said. The employee service solution is integrated within the platform to allow users to work from any location seamlessly.

  • Market from anywhere

The app, powered by Salesforce Customer 360, allows users to sell, service, and market from anywhere in the world. Utilizing cloud, social, mobile, and artificial intelligence (AI) to build intelligent, personalized experiences for any industry. 

By utilizing apps like Service Cloud Voice and Einstein Call Coaching, organizations can deliver customer success from anywhere, according to Franklin. Additionally, Salesforce partnered with Vlocity earlier this year, which means data models, APIs, and workflows will be even more industry-specific in the app. 

“Centralized call centers can now be geographically distributed teams of agents operating out of their homes. Marketing investments, major trade shows, and physical events can now become targeted, online campaigns,” Franklin said. “Commerce can shift from brick and mortar to digital storefronts medical care from doctor’s offices to telehealth. We see this happening in every industry.” 

  • Collaborate from anywhere

The Salesforce Anywhere app, which can be used via phone or desktop, allows for real-time team chat, notification alerts, comments, and video conferencing, right into the Salesforce platform and within the organization’s regular CRM workflow, Franklin said.

“This is important because it enables people to collaborate from anywhere right within Salesforce in the context of the customer,” Franklin added.

Users will be able to see which teammates are working on the same Salesforce page and easily view all record history within the platform. 

  • Work from anywhere

“The growing workforce being remote puts a huge strain on IT help desks, because they need to support their employees and they can’t do that in person anymore,” Franklin said. “To manage this at scale and with security in mind, we want to help employees work from anywhere. So we’re announcing a new employee service solution, in partnership with Tanium, that will give it teams complete control of all the employee devices and services on their network.”

Tanium is a leader in endpoint management solution and security, allowing for protected visibility within the Salesforce solution. 

“It’ll include a help desk for employees to submit tickets, a dashboard for IT managers to view all their assets and incidents in one location,” said Wade Wegner, senior vice president of product management, during the press briefing. 

“[The service] will provide AI-powered recommendations to prioritize incidents for IT managers as well as capabilities for monitoring devices and pushing out updates,” Wegner said. 

This solution will help IT teams in a couple of ways, Wegner noted. 

“First, it’s going to help employees access consistent support across every device and channel, including AI-powered bots and mobile self-service sites,” Wegner said. “Next, it’s going to make IT able to maximize productivity with an integrated help desk, asset management, and workflows to automate and to securely resolve incidents fast.”

“And, finally, it will accelerate incident resolution by giving it a complete view of every employee along with AI-powered productivities,” Wegner added.

  • Data from anywhere 

The “data from anywhere” component combines the powers of MuleSoft and Tableau to help companies access, process, and gain insights on their data, no matter where that data is, Franklin said. 

Users can leverage MuleSoft to unlock and integrate data into an application network using API-led connectivity, widening the data available for review. Organizations can then use Tableau to identify insights from up-to-date data, resulting in fast and reliable business decisions, according to a press release. 

  • Skills from anywhere

Users will be able to gain skills remotely by utilizing the new Einstein recommendations within Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform.

“[On Tuesday], we announced new Einstein recommendations for Trailhead, and with Einstein recommendations, our powerful AI serves up new learning content—or what we call trails and, and badges—based on learners’ past behaviors and activities of people similar to them,” Franklin said.

“Like, if I’m a developer in mobile, it’ll show me what other people that do mobile dev have learned as well. And because it’s AI, the recommendations improve over time,” Franklin said. “These algorithms get smarter, making learning more personalized and intelligent than ever before. Think of this as a Netflix of learning, where it has everything that you want right in front of you.” 

“And Trailhead is also delivering a ton of new resources to address these changing business environments on many topics that companies and individuals need to navigate this new normal, making it easier to skill up from anywhere and meet the business demands that you need to focus on growth,” Franklin added. 

The Salesforce Anywhere App will be available in beta in July, with the product expected to be generally available in Q4 of 2020. The employee service solution will be available in beta in November 2020. 

For more, check out How Salesforce plans to make virtual TrailheaDX 2020 a better, more meaningful tech conference on TechRepublic.

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