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Honeygrow Using Virtual Reality to Train Employees

Honeygrow, a healthy fast-casual eatery that serves custom salads and stir-fry dishes, has started to incorporate virtual reality when training its new employees in Arlington.

“The company is expanding so much but we still want to keep our core values,” said a spokeswoman for Honeygrow, which opened its Pentagon City mall location in 2016.

Honeygrow uses virtual reality for training to ensure that each new employee learns the company’s core values, which can be left in the dust once businesses undergo rapid expansion. Honeygrow’s first location opened in 2012 in Philadelphia but the company has grown so quickly that by the end of 2017, Honeygrow will have expanded to approximately 25 stores, spanning from Boston to Chicago and as far south as Pentagon City, which is one of two locations in the D.C. area

“This [virtual reality] has enabled us to be able to consistently train everybody,” said Brennagh Tourigney, a district manager for Honeygrow.

The virtual reality program was launched in May 2017. Honeygrow’s founder and CEO, Justin Rosenberg, was inspired to use virtual reality at his company when he received a cardboard virtual reality with his Sunday New York Times.

“It engages the team members,” said Tourigney. “This kind of keeps people excited, it sets us apart from our competitors.”

The virtual reality training does not replace hands-on training, but is an additional component. On orientation day, new workers are given the goggles and taken on a tour of a typical Honeygrow restaurant.

The video teaches trainees what the different roles of the workers are: they watch somebody make a salad, they observe a “noodler” carefully prepare noodles so they are a Goldilocks-approved “just right” — not too hard or too soft — and they see how cashiers ensure each order was correctly made. The video even has an interactive part when the goggles take trainees into the Honeygrow refrigerator.

Trainees are taught how to place food in the refrigerator, as foods served raw always go on the top. They must then use a clicker to place the different meats in correct order on the shelves and cannot go on to the next part of the video until they put fish on the top shelf, then beef, then pork and finally, chicken on the bottom shelf.

“I’ve never been in a working kitchen before, but I understand it is a very tough environment so this is a great way to assimilate new hires into a fast-paced kitchen environment, where a million things are going on at once,” said the spokeswoman.

The video was filmed in Honeygrow’s Cherry Hill location in New Jersey. Not a single person featured in the video was an actor, but were employees. Rosenberg introduces the video and gives closing remarks at the end.

“Because it’s led by our CEO and founder, it’s a great way to bring people into the community. You really feel like you’re part of the Honeygrow family from the minute you start,” said the spokeswoman.

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