The pandemic rapidly accelerated the rate at which companies transitioned to remote work. A trend that had been growing steadily in recent years was forced to become the norm across nearly every industry. And, while there are certainly some things to like about remote work, it does come with some notable complications.
One of those complications is the difficulty of maintaining strong relationships between co-workers. Without physically seeing each other each day, co-workers can drift apart, and those relationships may be lost. At Service Direct, we didn’t want to see that happen to our teams. Not only are strong relationships good for business, but they are also a positive influence on overall well-being.
As the pandemic has drug on, we have explored various initiatives to promote employee engagement and connection. One of the most successful of those ventures has been our virtual book club. Making more time for reading is always a good thing and reading the same book as others opens the opportunity for rewarding, enriching discussions. If you would like to create a book club in your organization, consider the following tips that we have picked up through our experiences.
1. You Need a Leader
An enthusiastic leader for the book club is an essential piece of the puzzle. This is not a job that should be forced onto anyone in the organization – it should be a volunteer position for someone who loves to read and wants to share that love with others. It’s important to have a leader for this project because you’ll need a point of contact for communication, someone to make book selections, and more. You might choose to stick with one leader for the long run of this club, or you may rotate leadership duties if you have multiple people who are interested.
2. Sort Out Logistics in Advance
A virtual book club can be quite simple, but there are some important logistics that should be worked out from the start to avoid confusion or frustration. Some of those logistical points include the following –
How will books be selected? This is an important one since the books selected impact participation. Our approach is to have the leader of the group create a shortlist of a few titles, and the members of the club can then vote on the one they want to read. The book that gets the most votes will be the first one that the group tackles. This democratic approach takes away the pressure of making the final selection from falling on the leader alone.
Are financial resources available? As a business, you might decide to provide some financing for this club, so books can be purchased at no expense to the club members. Of course, you can run a book club without taking that step but make it clear upfront that readers will be responsible for buying their own books.
When will the club meet? There are two basic formats for book clubs – you can hold meetings at intervals while reading the book, or one meeting at the end when everyone is finished. We chose the latter of those two options, but either one can work nicely. Just make sure your club meets on a regular cadence to keep everyone on track.
3. Keep It Fun!
The whole point of a book club is to have fun reading new books and chatting about them with others. It shouldn’t feel like homework! Make it clear to encourage employees that they are welcome to join whenever they would like, and they can also stop reading if they aren’t enjoying the book or just don’t have time. People in your organization already have enough on their plates, so you don’t want to accidentally add something that feels more like an obligation than a hobby. Make sure the emphasis is on fun and enjoyment right from the start.
4. Don’t Fall into a Pattern
It would be easy enough to fall into a pattern of reading the same kinds of books over and over again. This mistake could lead to your book club having a relatively short shelf life before people get tired of the material. Make it a point to read different kinds of books, and always ask for suggestions from club members to see what they are interested in reading. Opening the club to new perspectives and types of literature can go a long way toward improving the experience for everyone.
5. Maintain a Respectful, Welcoming Environment
Our last point is perhaps the most important for creating a successful book club within your organization. It’s essential that all are welcome in the club, and that differing opinions are not met with resistance or arguments. Some books will include materials that could spark passionate discussions on various topics. Whether those discussions are political, religious, or on any other topic where strong emotions are involved, make sure the club stays civil and respectful.
There are plenty of different ways to get started with a virtual book club, but we hope the tips listed above help you get started in the right direction. When executed correctly, this initiative can encourage your employees to read more and stay connected at the same time. Good luck and have fun reading!
Author Bio: Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.