How to improve one's knowledge while working ?
Does working make us ignorant? One may wonder about this, if we were to consider that we spend an average of eight hours at our workplace. So much time that we don’t devote to other activities, which are intellectually more nourishing: visiting an exhibition, watching a movie or even reading a book (a note for the younger ones: it’s an object made up of pages).
So, to reverse the trend and delay the slow and relentless deterioration of your neurons, how about combining reading and office life? This isn’t about hiding a comic book between two piles of the files which you need to tackle but creating some personal reading time, accompanied with some collective exchange time. How? By creating a book club at your office, of course!
Book at the disposal of collective intelligence
Not really developed in France, the concept of a reading club in a company is on a roll in USA. According to the blogger at Harvard Business Review John Coleman, book clubs encourage employees to come out of their intellectual comfort zone and develop their creativity. The perspective of a collective encounter encourages each one to read a book properly, regardless of its content (from fictions to social science essays, not to mention historical biographies).
The positive point of a book club: it’s a tool which maximizes individual and collective performance but also the well-being at the office. Not satisfied about favoring open-mindedness and the power of reasoning, establishing a book club favors oral and written expression but also the capacity to analyze and abstract. It also makes room for better communication and interaction among various collaborators, especially if the latter are made up of teams and departments. Last but not least, it creates a holistic environment which is conducive to the fulfillment of each person, by temporarily suspending the notion of hierarchy and highlighting each employee, as an individual, regardless of his/her status in the company.
Steps to see through your book club
After having convinced your superiors that your approach is valid, send an email or directly talk with your collaborators to see who is interested by the idea. The ideal would be to make up a group of a dozen people who are willing and motivated.
You just need to respect a few simple rules, for your book club to work. First of all, how to choose the books? Carrying out a democratic vote is a good idea but making up a list of references in advance could help save some time, even if it means adding some new titles gradually. Don’t be too ambitious (avoid 500 paged novels at the beginning) not too corporate (who wants to read marketing essays during their personal time?). The first book which is chosen, make sure (you?) Office Manager get a copy of this book for each member of the book club (who feels like buying marketing essays with their own salary?).
In terms of the establishment of your book club, three more steps remain: “read, meet, discuss”. The frequency of these meetings need to be realistic and take everyone’s schedules into account: for instance, a monthly meeting will allow each one to finish reading in due time.
Put aside some time for your book club: useless “punishing” your collaborators by planning book club encounters during the lunch break. Don’t forget that a book club isn’t a work meeting and it’s good to let each collaborator express their viewpoint even improvise and take turns to lead the discussion.
Once your book club has been established, you should quickly perceive its benefits at the office but also at home. Rather than binge watch Stranger Things, perhaps you’ll be tempted to open Shelter, whether it’s on the book club’s agenda or not…
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