Two Frontline workers pointing at Surface device with Surface pen
Read Time, 7 min.

Frontline workers—nurses, bank branch employees, and retail associates, among others—are the driving force behind all major industries.

But in 2020, 86% of industry leaders[1] across manufacturing, technology, financial services, energy, and healthcare indicated frontline workers still need better access to insights through technology to improve their everyday decision-making.

Today, business leaders have come to terms with the importance of empowering frontline workers. These team members are critical to everyday operations, as well as protecting customer safety, enhancing customer experiences, and remaining agile when organizations face future disruptions.

Traditional, manual tools for frontline workers impose on organizations’ ability to meet these modern challenges. Fortunately, new technologies mean organization leaders can better manage and empower their frontline workers. They can encourage those employees to learn, engage one another, and share knowledge, they can better ensure the delivery of critical and emerging KPIs.

Microsoft’s 2-in-1 Surface Go and Surface Pro devices are purpose-built to empower frontline workers through secure services, innovative capabilities, and advanced communication and information-sharing features. Today, they are already enhancing frontline workers’ productivity and experiences, as well as the experiences of their customers or patients. Here we take a closer look at the challenges of today’s frontline workforce and explore opportunities for organizations across multiple industries—in this case, healthcare, banking, and retail—to support them in their work.

Meeting the Unique Challenges of the Front Line

Today, we acknowledge the critical roles of frontline workers—and the real, personal risks they face while on the job. Whether in-person, online, or both, frontline workers maintain that critical connection between organizations and their customers or patients. But it’s difficult to connect today’s geographically dispersed workers with each other to improve training, communication, collaboration, and management to those ends.

In fact, 87% of industry leaders[2] indicated their organizations will be more successful when their frontline workers are better empowered to make important, “in-the-moment” decisions. Microsoft’s suite of Surface devices provides frontline workers with a single, cloud-based, company-branded destination for shifts, news, tasks, resources, and more—configurable to meet unique organizational needs.

Among other capabilities, frontline workers can:

  • Share rich information. Reach the right people, at the right time via shift-aware tagging based on categories like “role” or “department.” Frontline workers can immediately access the exact right information they need in the moment to maximize job performance as well.
  • Communicate hands-free. Team members enjoy a seamless yet private push-to-talk experience through Wi-Fi or cell connections as they move freely with their devices, featuring longer-than-usual battery life when working long shifts or remotely.
  • Build knowledge and solidarity. Meet your workers where they are with targeted communications to support specific individuals, teams, or roles. Accelerate onboarding and learning processes and increase access to training or job-related information by delivering rich content directly to workers’ devices.
  • Create a more engaged and inclusive workplace. Celebrate individual workers and foster a closer community with pre-set or customizable badges representing your company values. Increase inclusivity with tools that make communication and collaboration accessible for everyone.

Technology need not limit an organization’s ability to put sophisticated, role-based tools in the hands of all frontline workers, whether they are in a central warehouse, at a neighbourhood retail store, or in a rural area on a home healthcare visit.

Modern Devices Provide Opportunities Across Industries

No matter their industry, countless organizations take a rudderless “technology for technology’s sake” approach. That’s why Microsoft’s new generation of devices emphasizes versatility and configurability across industries, enriching communication and employee experiences by connecting workers with the right tools, people, and devices so they can do their best work, every time.

No matter your industry, you can choose a solution with a wide range of benefits that nonetheless uses a single, simplified platform. Here is a look at how frontline workers in healthcare, banking, and retail can use Microsoft’s Surface Go and Surface Pro devices to meet and exceed their customers’ or patients’ expectations, wherever they are.

Healthcare Workers, Untethered and Unfettered

Healthcare facilities are accelerating their frontline workers’ use of technology with devices to improve information sharing, communication between care teams, virtual monitoring of patients, and mobility. Personal devices are also creating new opportunities for organizations to deliver remote patient care, where about two-thirds of nurses[3] are very interested in opportunities to provide this type of care in the future.

These devices need to fit seamlessly into the modern workflows of caregivers—lest they become just another item with which they must concern themselves every day. Microsoft’s Surface suite of devices keeps frontline healthcare workers’ unique needs in mind, enabling them to:

  • Connect with specialists and doctors remotely
  • Capture patient information and store it securely
  • Collaborate with care teams on patient treatment plans
  • Remain connected to their care team and network, even on the go

Surface devices even streamline the routine aspects of modern care—by simplifying and accelerating patient intake processes or using touch to complete forms and collect signatures, for example. Surface devices are industry compliant, are compatible with most disinfectant wipes, and can be encased in anti-microbial cases or covers, making them appropriate for any healthcare environment.

Reinvigorating the Roles of Branch Staff

Although consumers increasingly choose to bank digitally, most still prefer to use banks or credit unions that have a physical presence[4] rather than a digital presence only. What has changed are consumers’ reasons for visiting physical branches—many prefer in-person versus digital interactions for high-value transactions and a deeper, human element instead.

Banks and credit unions can modernize their in-branch customer experience and advisory services, empowering branch teams with digital tools to meet these demands. With Surface Go 2, branch employees can evolve their roles from completing a set number of routine transactions to performing sophisticated customer interactions start to finish, driving business value.

For example, branch employees can access information about key services for customers or reach out to colleagues from anywhere for support or unique consultation, no matter a customer’s needs in the moment. They can collect customers’ information and signatures securely using the device’s pen. And because Microsoft’s Surface devices provide built-in protections, banks and credit unions enjoy seamless security and compliance, no matter how their frontline workers engage customers.

Positioning Retail Associates for In-Person Success

Consumer expectations are also driving in-store retailers to adapt their frontline strategies. In 2019, 75% of shoppers[5] wanted or were interested in encounters with technology-enabled store associates, for example. In-store retailers can empower frontline associates to meet evolving customer demands, as well as improve their own work experiences.

Microsoft’s Surface devices free retail-floor associates from sitting behind desks. They provide them with access to information the moment it’s needed; associates can quickly help customers find products and carry out transactions using those same devices. And thanks to Surface devices’ extended battery life, employees can avoid charging them for the duration of their shifts.

Microsoft’s Surface devices also accommodate customers who prefer to use self-service features during their retail store visits. In-store customers can access intuitive searching and transaction features through dedicated device stations on the retail floor. They can easily sign digital documents, such as warranty agreements for relevant products, or scan QR codes to access product discounts.

It’s Time to Transform Your Frontline Experience

The pace of technology adoption among frontline workers will only increase. The question industry leaders must ask themselves is: Do we have the right foundations for their ongoing success?

Microsoft’s Surface Go and Surface Pro devices are the secure and productive choices for the roles of frontline workers. Their cloud-native platforms are purpose-built to facilitate frontline use cases across industries.

As your frontline challenges evolve, Microsoft evolves with them, ensuring you always have access to leading digital capabilities in your industry. Best of all, Surface devices give your workers the freedom and flexibility they need to deliver exceptional experiences with just a few clicks through to the cloud, while you maintain control complete and seamless device management down to the firmware layer,

Take the Next Step

Discover how Surface for Business devices, together with Microsoft 365 cloud services, can transform frontline operations at your organization. Contact your Microsoft contact or a Surface Reseller to know more.


[1] and [2] Source: Harvard Business Review, “THE NEW DECISION MAKERS: Equipping Frontline Workers for Success”, 2020

[3] Source: McKinsey &Company, “What’s next in nursing? Meet the McKinsey RNs working to find out”, 2021

[4] Source: Forbes Advisor, “The Future Of In-Person Banking Services: What You Need To Know”, 2021

[5] Source: Mintel, “US Omnichannel Retailing Market Report 2019”, 2019

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