COVID19 – Back to Office App

During the last three weeks I had the chance to see an idea become reality in a super short time.

When I started in my current team, my colleagues were just starting to think about scenarios that could be useful for our customers in our new reality and that could show the power of Microsoft 365 platform. No additional licenses, no upselling, just how to leverage Microsoft platform for a real urgent need.

Europe was facing the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, but seeing light. Customers started to think on how they could perform soft openings and welcome employees back to their offices in a responsible way.

The new reality would require reduction in occupancy, social distancing, extra protection and processes to ensure controlled access to buildings and spaces dedicated to work.

The first version of the Back to Office App is now ready! Three weeks from an idea to a functional app. Built in Power Apps, tight integration with Microsoft Teams and available free of charge for any Office 365 customer (no additional licenses required).

As economies and businesses reopen, organizations need a way to gradually open their office facilities for their workers while keeping everyone safe. Facilities teams are working to restructure building layouts, and seating arrangements to maintain social distancing norms and control building occupancy thresholds. They need a way to manage, track and report employee onsite presence.

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Solution Overview

  • Suite of three Apps – Building Access user app for employees to request access, Building Admin companion app to manage building availability, occupancy thresholds & eligibility criteria and Building Security app to verify onsite access and check in users.
  • Released as production ready ‘open source’ App template on GitHub that can be configured and adapted by organizations based on their business needs. https://github.com/microsoft/powerapps-tools/tree/master/Apps/BuildingAccess
  • Built using Power Apps, Power Automate, SharePoint and Power BI with deep integration with Teams for collaboration.
  • Included Power BI Dashboard provides executives and facility managers insights need to manage facility readiness with current and projected occupancy rates.
  • Leverages seeded Power Platform licenses in Office 365 for the three Power Apps.
  • Available in 44 different languages from day 1.

Personas

Four different personas/profiles interact in a collaborative process to ensure safe return to office.

Executives & Facilities Managers

Employee (Requestor)

Manager (Approver)

Security Team

  • Define availability and occupancy threshold for each building.
  • Define key eligibility criteria (health related questions) for onsite access
  • Define criteria for auto approval vs manager approval
  • Ensure only approved workers are allowed onsite
  • Track workers onsite at any location worldwide and projected turnouts
  • Publish important instructions for onsite access
  • Leverage insight for Planning
  • Request onsite building access for one or more days (in daily blocks)
  • Check on submitted requests and track approvals and rejection.
  • Withdraw requests as plans change
  • Ability to check-in and check-out
  • Pull up the approval QR Code for security check in (for restricted entry)
  • Check on latest company news
  • Approve onsite access for direct reports once the auto approval thresholds are met
  • Ability to bulk approve/reject requests
  • Track team members that will be onsite at an office location
  • Confirm worker is approved for entry prior to allowing access to premises
  • Check in workers by scanning a QR code or by pulling up information using key employee data
  • Provide emergency approvals for onsite access

The package is now available on GitHub. Talk to your Customer Success Manager, engage our partner ecosystem, install the tool, customize if required. You’re free to use it to support a safe return to Office.

Reach out if you have any questions or need help to understand the tool, requirements, etc.

Cristiano.

Disclaimer – The information contained in this blog post doesn’t represent the official Microsoft guidance or best practices. It is just the view of the author on current alternatives, implementations and workarounds for common issues and/or business needs. Please refer to official Microsoft documentation and evaluate carefully any steps, code or procedures documented herein. The author doesn’t offer any warranty. Use this information at your own risk.

One comment

  1. Hi, we have adapted this app into a desk booking system for our return to the office. It’s working great, but the following are the most-requested features I’ve come across:

    1. Booking on behalf of another person. PAs need to be able to book desks for their bosses.
    2. Per-neighbourhood approvals (which I see you’ve already covered in another blog)
    3. View others desk bookings.
    4. Ability to select multiple days for a single desk in one go.
    5.Set approvals to go to a specific person rather that line manager.

    Also, we’ve found a bug. Each space (renamed “desk” in our case) is created in a building (which we’ve renamed “neighbourhood”) with a capacity of 1. If two users have the same neighbourhood and date open in the app they will both see that a desk is free. If they both click to book then it will allow 2 bookings against a desk that has a capacity of 1. After a refresh this desk will then show as booked but with an availability of -1

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