Connecting your frontline during furlough

Boston Tea Party is a West Country-born independent cafe chain. With a team of around 600, they were looking for a single and intuitive way to connect the whole team, many of whom were deskless.

Ensuring consistent, trusted information was drawn from their HR platform Fourth
to enable easy onboarding of team members and sharing of rotas and pay breakdowns was vital.

We recently talked with Polly Akielan, Boston’s Engagement and Communications Manager, on why they chose Workplace from Facebook
and Azuronaut, and the benefits it has provided their frontline teams.

The challenge

The 23 café teams relied on each general manager to pass on key information, as there was no streamlined approach to communication at Boston Tea Party.

Polly Akielan says: From my point of view, as a comms person, I had to provide something which was a solution to the communications challenges we were facing as a business. Management also wanted to automatically onboard and offboard their teams and any platform would have to include their frontline to self serve.

That is why, after appraising a number of internal communications platforms, we turned to Azuronaut and Workplace from Facebook.

The solution

Connect by Azuronaut has allowed 600 people to be automatically synced from their HR platform Fourth to Workplace from Facebook. People can self serve their Boston Tea Party accounts from seamless access to password resets, made possible by another Azuronaut solution, the Activation Portal.

I was out and about in the business in the first week, in our cafes and actually physically sitting down with people to get them on the platform and using Connect by Azuronaut to make that happen. This was hugely successful and from here a lot of the interaction grew organically, like the creation of more social Groups within Workplace.

Group management is done automatically for the cafes people work in, and our two all company groups, however we’ve also found that many social groups have been started by our own people taking the initiative. For example, we’ve got a Runners at Boston group where they talk about the races they’re signed up to do. We’ve also got a Home Brew club for people that are really interested in coffee at home, not just at work so people are talking about the different coffees they’ve ordered online at the moment and trying them out – that was started by one of our assistant managers spontaneously.

Polly says: We worked with Azuronaut and Workplace from Facebook to provide answers to the technical challenges we had. Connect by Azuronaut was a solution that allowed all of our people to be automatically synced with Fourth, our HR platform.

By doing this, we can create, update and deactivate Workplace accounts automatically – without requiring what would have been more work for our head office team.

We also worked with Azuronaut to ensure our people could activate their Workplace accounts using minimal personal data. They can also change their passwords by themselves, straight from their mobile or laptop. This was made possible by the Azuronaut Activation Portal, and has meant that our people have the ability to take ownership of their account.

When it came to launching, having a really clear plan was absolutely crucial for us. We had raised awareness before launch day with in-store posters, and a communications cascade via face-to-face meetings. Our people were in no doubt that Workplace was coming! From here we went in to a “Week of Winning”. This week allowed our teams to explore lots of basic functionality over week one, covering different tasks each day to get to grips with the platform and get a little bit competitive!

Frontline results

Boston Tea Party has a 92% claim rate, 85% of users are active daily – even during the café shutdown due to Covid-19. People are choosing to stay connected organically with a streamlined approach to communications.

Polly says: Any time anyone has been out from the head office since launch, they’ve been asking the question, “How are you finding Workplace?” and actually spontaneously a lot of people from the frontline have been coming up and saying “Oh I forgot to tell you I LOVE Workplace, it’s so good for being able to keep everyone in the loop”

Lots of our team are telling us they get more information in a more timely manner, which is exactly what we wanted for them. Of our 600-strong team, we have an 92% claim rate. 85% of our people are active on Workplace daily, and we’ve had some great stats on interaction too. 1,000 posts, 2,000 comments, 9,000 reactions and 40,000 messages within the first month of use.

Right now, with Covid-19, there’s no obligation for any of our frontline to be using Workplace proactively at the minute, they can just be getting Covid updates.

Actually what’s happening is that people are commenting things like, “I miss you guys” “I miss crazy busy Saturdays” and all these nice back-and-fourths in the café groups, and then in the main company group people are sharing what they are cooking, how they are recreating the Boston Tea Party dishes they miss the most. No one is asking them to share, it’s just happening – people are choosing to stay connected.

As for the future, that all depends on what Workplace brings our way! It’s already become the default way we communicate so now it will be about keeping the business evolving and developing by harnessing ideas from the team through Workplace. We also hope we will find our next leaders through the platform.

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