Launching Workplace during furlough
Bistrot Pierre is an independent restaurant group founded in 1994. Twenty five years on, they’re still doing what they’ve always done; serving great-value French-style dishes, freshly prepared by their chefs, in stylish, relaxing environments.
Launching Workplace from Meta came at the time of UK furlough, so Bistrot wanted to ensure their culture shone through at launch.
We sat down with Jane Rawden, their HR Director to talk about their recent move to Workplace. We discussed how the platform has been critical for internal communication across their business during the Covid-19 pandemic and their plans for the future.
Bistrot Pierre was growing quickly. They wanted an intuitive tool to connect their people and reflect their restaurant’s vibrant culture.
The challenge ahead of us at Bistrot Pierre was quite complex and involved several factors, says Jane. We have grown quickly, with 25 sites geographically spread across the UK. We wanted a quick and easy to access tool that helps connect everybody who works for Bistrot Pierre and makes them feel a part of the Bistrot Pierre family.
Strategically, I wanted to continue to embed our culture, creating a place where as a family we celebrate success and recognition. In a world of instant ‘in the moment’ feedback through social media we needed to reflect this in our employee engagement strategy.
We pride ourselves on our family feel so we wanted a place where our team members felt comfortable, like they were with family and friends, where they could be open and happy to share their thoughts and feelings, a place where we could authentically capture moments as a business.
When we first sat down with Cocentric our key objective was that the platform would work effectively and efficiently. Second, I wanted the genuine reassurance from a partner who was going to run alongside us to help achieve our vision, someone to have the passion and energy to provide that connectivity for all our employees.
Cocentric guided Bistrot Pierre through their Workplace from Meta launch during a period of furlough in the UK.
People are sharing pictures of their pets, their families, their walks, how far they have run, quizzes, best books to read, cakes, lots of pictures of cooking – we genuinely see people reaching out to each other to get that connectivity back through Workplace. We are currently running a competition, The Great Bistrot Pierre Cook off, with a different theme each week. It’s really gathered momentum and it’s lovely to see such genuine team support and positivity for one another along with some great dishes all shared across Workplace.
The hidden benefit I had underestimated was the ability for the leadership team to be able to connect at every level across the business. During COVID more than ever, empathy and support is key and for us just to be able to talk virtually I know has made a big difference from our General Managers to our Kitchen Porters.
In terms of our GMs, we have had some great engagement. Our GM at Mumbles for example has been running a competition for the best TikTok video from his team. Keeping ‘our family together and our sense of community’ is key in preparation for when we reopen.
We were due to launch on Mother’s Day, 22nd March, but due to Covid-19 in the UK, we had to shut all our restaurants on 19th March. We had already completed a soft launch with our General Managers and their feedback unanimously was that the whole Bistrot Pierre team needed this tool and needed it as soon as possible.
As a partner, Cocentric have been superb, enabling us to launch during possibly the most traumatic and unprecedented times that the hospitality industry has and will ever experience. Without question they have been by our side throughout and for that we are truly thankful.
The challenge at the moment is that many of our employees are furloughed, and we don’t know when we will all return to work. However, Workplace is absolutely business critical. It is our communication lifeline right now. This is a personal way of communicating for our teams, and it means that as soon as we open our restaurant doors again, Workplace will already be embedded into our culture. For now it is providing a place for people to voluntarily stay connected, to support them with their health and wellbeing and just to enable us all to share how we are feeling and what we are thinking. We have also used it to place short videos with company updates, which people have valued.
Despite the furlough, I’m delighted that over 70% of the team has signed up and are engaging with posts and this number continues to increase.
The next step
With their 25 teams signing up to the platform and sharing content, Bistrot Pierre is preparing for their next phase after furlough.
We’ve big plans for Workplace once we’re all back. We have a policy at Bistrot Pierre that “feedback is always on”. We want Workplace to be resident in all we do, to be part of how we operate. It will be the pulse of our family, the voice of the employees, be a place where our Managers can get a temperature check for new initiatives and be a key operational tool to communicate quickly to all sites.
We’ll be uploading documents and using them on Workplace, in addition to running competitions, polls and opportunities to recognise our people. We have a very clear vision, which just has to wait for now.