Returning to Work + Reconnecting with The Ruan Center's Building Events
Office buildings were designed to inspire, connect and foster creativity and energy among their team members. At the Ruan Center, a multi-tenant high-rise office building, we strive to create a community amongst our diverse tenants by encouraging them to network and participate in our various building events. During the height of the pandemic, seemingly overnight, Downtown Des Moines (DSM) turned into a ghost town, as many employers transitioned their teams to work from home. The Ruan Center was quiet. Our team found it challenging during these uncertain times to keep tenants and employees connected to the building.
Returning to the Ruan Center
The return to work was hesitant, to say the least. As we slowly watched employees roll back into the building, we were challenged with how to get people reconnected in a safe environment. Over the past year, the majority of our tenants’ teams have decided to return to work in the office, and the participation in our building events has doubled, nearly tripled. It is so encouraging to see the surge of employees working back in Downtown DSM, and we hope within the next year this number continues to grow. We recently sent a survey out to our tenants, and the responses suggest that they are equally as hopeful for the future of the building. “The events have been fun. Although I may not know all the other tenants, it is great to see people gathering and it is encouraging to know that the Ruan culture — and other businesses within the building — are thriving.”
Ruan Center Events
The Transwestern management team collaborates with the building owner to host events that incorporate our values of community building, equity and inclusion, health and wellness and professional development. As the Tenant Experience Coordinator, I plan two to three building events each month to get the tenants involved, and we always have high participation at these events.
To highlight a few, we held a holiday pancake breakfast, DIY charcuterie boards, a flower bouquet workshop for Valentine’s Day, live blue’s music from Tom Buckmiller, a succulent workshop for Earth Day and a Thanksgiving luncheon catered by local restaurant Smokey D’s. A fan favorite was The Pancake Man’s appearance for the holidays, as he engaged tenants by flipping pancakes across the lobby. We generally hold these events in our lobby so that all tenants have easy accessibility, but we have also held movie days in our auditorium and with our pavilion now open we plan to use that space as well.
Summer 2022 Events
This summer we are hosting an Iowa Cubs-themed cookout with gameday food, yard games & the mascot Cubbie will be making an appearance. During this event, we will also be hosting a raffle for tickets to a Cubs game in which all the proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A goal of ours is to connect our tenants with the DSM community and encourage them to attend the various Downtown events. The Des Moines Arts Festival is an important event that strengthens the community and gives artists the opportunity to showcase their creativity. This summer, we are planning to host an art gallery in our pavilion and will be collaborating with local artists to allow tenants to preview their work before the festival.
We always have wonderful feedback from the tenants about our communication efforts and events. Whether we are giving out snacks, hosting a DIY event or having live music in the lobby, the tenants enjoy getting to take a break during the workday and interact with their peers. We strongly value communication because it is important to us that tenants are always aware of the various building events, construction updates, street closures, etc. To achieve mass communication, we send out monthly and weekly newsletters to the tenants that not only highlight our building, but events going on in the community as well. We often encourage our tenants to try new local shops and restaurants in Downtown DSM to keep the downtown district lively. Apart from our weekly emails, we also post building updates on our Ruan Center Instagram and Facebook pages.
We hope to encourage tenants to come back to the office through our tenant engagement program but to accommodate all our tenants, we also have virtual activities that they may participate in. An example of a virtual activity we had in March was an International Woman’s Day contest. We asked tenants to send in nominations for a woman at their company that deserved appreciation for all their hard work. The winner received a gift card to the East Village Spa, so along with tenant appreciation we also got to support a local business. We do have a few companies that are currently working hybrid, and we love hearing that their employees are excited to be in the office on the days of our tenant events.
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