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Microsoft’s trying to make sure it’s part of the office of the future (hint: not an office)

Microsoft’s working hard to get with the times, the casualised workforce times, with the start of private testing of a chat app to help casual staff coordinate shifts.

Enterprise app platform Project Sonoma, as it’s currently being billed, will be deployed by companies across both iOS and Android to help staff see their shifts, request time changes and share other company-related information.

Ongoing development of the app’s functionality is being managed on Microsoft’s UserVoice page for the project, with testers requesting extra features like sick days and voice calling functionality.

Users need an Office 365 account to use the app, tying companies into Microsoft’s wider enterprise software packages.

This effort looks to be part of a wider Microsoft effort to help people better manage their diaries.

Microsoft recently launched Bookings to help small businesses accept and manage online appointments.

Today, Microsoft also announced that it has bought smart scheduling startup Genee, which uses AI to help people find a time to get together.

The company’s co-founder Charles Lee said: “We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services.”

The Genee service will shut down on 1 September with its natural-language processing capabilities and chatbot know-how rolled into Microsoft’s Office 365 software.