Programming is an integral part of how we create vibrant workplace communities. At One North Wacker, the monthly book club is its own unique, niche community, one where customers from different companies across the building come together over a shared love of reading. We spoke with Katrina Dougherty, Tenant Services Coordinator at One North Wacker and the moderator of the book club, to learn more about the book club’s success and the value it adds to customers’ work-lives.
Kicking Things Off
“The book club was born out of conversations with our team about how we might regularly engage customers with an ongoing, monthly program. I’ve been part of book clubs before and loved them, so I gravitated towards the idea — and being a moderator means I’m able to create a comfortable, intimate space based on my relationships with people in the building,” says Dougherty.
The book club kicked off in March 2019 and has been going strong ever since. Members meet monthly to discuss books over guided questions. Pre-pandemic, these meetings happened during catered lunch in the One North Wacker conference center or at happy hour in One North Kitchen, but have since migrated virtually.
After discussing the book of the month at each session, members make suggestions for books they want to read next. Dougherty gathers these suggestions and later emails out a list of 4-5 options, asking members to rank their favorites to democratically select a winner.
Sessions always start out with chit-chat and members catching up with one another. “We strike a great balance as a book club where everybody knows one another. Members ask about each others’ lives and want to know how everyone is doing,” explains Dougherty.
Going Virtual in 2020
When the book club switched to hold meetings over Zoom in March, membership held strong. “These are die-hard book lovers and we have a great, tight core group,” explains Dougherty. Session attendance usually sits at anywhere from 8-10 people, but Dougherty is excited to expand the circle and invite more customers to join the community.
In addition to being a space for book lovers, during COVID-19, the virtual meetings have been a welcoming space for customers to stay connected and to share their experiences. “It’s been really rewarding to see members meet from across companies in the building,” says Dougherty. “Members were able to both share and get a pulse for what procedures other firms within the building were implementing, including workspace modifications, phased returns, signage within their space, PPE within their space, etc. It proved to be an unexpectedly valuable space to connect and share as many companies navigated such an unprecedented time!”
Members also shared their own thoughts about the experience. Kyle Whalen, Client Relations Center Coordinator at Northwestern Mutual says, “This has been a great way to meet other folks in our building, and an unexpectedly important opportunity to stay connected and social during the pandemic. Reading speeds vary, as do the types of books we read, but everyone is friendly and fun to talk to. It’s okay to join in even if you didn’t finish the book! Don’t be scared!”
“Providing opportunities to build community at the building is something we love to do, and we’re thankful to keep it going no matter the circumstances,” says Dougherty. “We know the unique value it adds to customers’ experience and look forward to it each and every month.”