The forgotten workforce needs a new communications strategy

A delivery driver stationary in his van looking at his smartphone with a parcel on the passenger seat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Discussions around communication and workforce efficiency have ramped up over the past three years as hybrid and remote working have become more common for office workers. 

Cloud-based productivity tools such as Microsoft Teams, for example, have played a key role in alleviating challenges and streamlining communications for businesses; they have provided a vital platform for collaboration and ensured business continuity amidst a challenging operating environment.

However, with conversations on the matter often focused on the needs of office-based ‘knowledge workers’, for the remaining 80% of the workforce who, according to BT, typically work remotely in the field, these needs have been largely overlooked. 

This forgotten workforce – made up of delivery drivers, site managers, traditional sales rep roles and the like – is still as important to modern businesses as their colleagues who sit at a desk. Despite this, they are often forced to contend with poorly aligned communications strategies and equipment that don’t meet their needs; research from Microsoft shows that nearly one-third (32%) of these frontline workers don’t have the necessary tools required to work effectively. 

This lack of access to unified, reliable communications has a marked negative impact on productivity, engagement, and retention, and ultimately has an adverse impact on overall business performance and customer satisfaction. 


A whitepaper from BT on how to develop a mobile-first mindset, with image of female worker looking at mobile phone

(Image credit: BT)

This eBook from BT discusses why a mobile-first mindset goes beyond technology.


One example of the issue at hand would be a delivery driver who needs to speak to a customer. While most jobs will pass off without a hitch, sometimes an address can be hard to find, there’s an external door that requires a code for entry, or some other cause of disruption in them completing the delivery.

While a quick phone call may seem like the solution, many people are hesitant to answer calls from an unknown or unrecognized number. If the customer doesn’t pick up, the delivery person can be left unable to fulfill their task, which is an unsatisfying outcome both for them and the intended recipient. 

Over time, it can end up wasting precious time and resources for the organization in a period of challenging economic conditions and budgetary constraints. 

For sales representatives, this issue poses equal challenges. An inability to engage with customers and prospective clients means that their business could lose out on vital revenue streams. 

Streamlined communication with Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile

Connectivity issues such as these can be addressed through BT’s Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile service, an advanced feature of Microsoft’s flagship collaboration platform.

BT is the UK’s first Microsoft partner to offer Teams Phone Mobile for customers, enabling every call to become a Teams call, whether from the Teams app, or the native mobile dialler.

Users of the service can make calls from their mobile phone dialler, Teams app or physical Teams endpoints using a single business-owned phone number. This easy-to-use single number can be used across multiple devices and provides a verified ID for the caller, alleviating customer concerns over spam calls from unknown contacts. 

This, in turn, helps increase responses to calls and enables staff to engage with customers more effectively wherever they are. 

“Teams Phone Mobile is where we made this network level integration that integrates teams right into the carrier network,” says Gareth Bleasdale, senior GTM manager for Microsoft Teams. 

"Making it easier for users to pick up and make calls on their preferred device for that specific movement."

Fundamentally, Teams Phone Mobile offers businesses an opportunity to consolidate their communications and costs within a single offering, according to Bleasdale. 

Rather than potentially paying for two separate tariffs for one individual employee, or running on two separate platforms, Teams Phone Mobile brings everything under one roof. 

“Because Teams Mobile anchors all those calls on a single platform, it makes it much easier to manage that, to get recordings, to get detailed insights, but also allows you to rationalize your costs.”. 

“Then you get the wider macro benefits of being able to present known phone numbers, reducing those dropped call rates, and providing those business benefits, like reduced wastage from field worker visits, like being able to improve customer experience.”

Office workers can also benefit from Teams Phone Mobile, as well as their colleagues who are out working in the field. 

In hybrid working roles, they can take their phone number with them between locations and it can also facilitate smoother hot desking, as the person’s number isn’t tied to a particular seat. All of which is in addition to the other connectivity benefits brought by Teams.

Reliable connectivity 

Teams Phone Mobile from BT harnesses the power of the EE mobile network to ensure reliability and robust connectivity. 

In July 2023, EE was named as the best overall mobile network for customers across the country. Independent testing from Rootmetrics showed the network ranked best for reliability, accessibility, and speed. 

EE was also identified as the top performing carrier in each individual UK nation for ten years running. 

Intuitive features

There are broader benefits of Teams Phone Mobile with regard to every-day productivity and operational efficiency. 

For example, the roll-out of intuitive, automated transcription services on Microsoft Teams is integrated with user voicemails. This means users who do miss a call are provided with transcribed excerpts of voicemails, making catching up on correspondence easier. 

Users can also receive voicemails on any Teams endpoint, and have secondary voicemail greetings depending on individual circumstances, such as when they are out of office. 

Bleasdale says these small yet impactful features make things easier for both the end user and organization as a whole. 

“I like to think of it as you’re making life easier for the run aspect of the organization, making a streamlined, efficient, consolidated architecture,” he says. 

“When you switch on your out of office you can have a second voicemail greeting that has a slightly different tone. That will flow through to your mobile voicemail. It’s all about making life easier for the IT department, easier for the end user, and much more efficient and future ready.”

Security and resilience

Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile from BT draws on the combined security expertise of both providers, offering customers industry-leading security features. 

The service is compliant with cross-border regulatory requirements, and offers dedicated security teams to protect against growing cyber security threats. 

Management and governance-related considerations are also streamlined through Teams Phone Mobile’s integration with the Microsoft 365 portal. This enables businesses to enforce security, compliance, and data governance policies through a central location. 

The holistic benefits of a mobile-first approach

Organizations leveraging Teams Phone Mobile and adopting a mobile-first approach to their communications strategy can unlock more benefits than operational efficiency; this practice has a tangible positive impact on employee satisfaction and wellbeing. 

Organizations that fail to prioritize employee wellbeing can create long-term issues, such as poorer staff retention, which has a negative impact on their bottom line due to the loss of vital institutional knowledge and expertise. 

Research shows that failure to prioritize employee wellbeing costs SMBs around £125,000 each year, for example. 

Field teams are typically happier when they are able to communicate openly and effectively with colleagues located in-office, and are able to draw on vital support to help them maximize their daily tasks. 

Simple things such as check-ins with colleagues can go a long way to improve morale and wellbeing. 

To learn more about what BT can offer with Microsoft Teams, click here.


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