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How Dell Engaged Remote Employees through Poetry

Friday February 26, 2021

Engage Remote Employees

There are all sorts of methods to boost remote employee engagement, some more common than others. Back in 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported on a Teamraderie customer, John Smits of Dell. He used a 90-minute Teamraderie experience called “Do Something You’ve Never Done” with artist IN-Q to help his colleagues get to know each other better and increase their trust.


Since this story came out, we’ve had a ton of questions about our experiences. We want to share a bit more about this form of remote employee engagement. While it might be a bit unconventional, it’s also an exceptional way to get team members to connect quickly and authentically.


Dell engaged remote employees


Since the story debuted, we received 100s of inquiries from teams wanting to understand this Teamraderie Experience better. We want to share the highlights with you – as this experience, though unconventional, has proven powerful to create deep connection in teams – fast.


What is the goal of this Experience?

Distributed teams accomplish several goals with this Experience: (1) strengthen bonds and trust in existing teams; (2) create connection in newly-formed teams; (3) cultivate psychological safety to help teams share more ideas and be more creative.


Who is leading it?

The artist leading this experience is IN-Q. He’s a best-selling author, keynote speaker, multi-platinum songwriter, and award-winning poet. IN-Q was named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list as an influential thought leader. He’s worked with a huge number of companies and brands to help them learn to tell their stories through story-telling workshops and collaborative content pieces.


IN-Q writes as a way to inspire, entertain, and even challenge those listening to look into the human experience more deeply. He hopes to make people ask important questions about their environment, themselves, and the world as a whole.


How does a team prepare for it?

Team needs to clear the schedule for 90 minutes. No additional preparation is required.


What is happening during the Experience?

IN-Q performs live (10 minutes) and then shares a ‘prompt’ (which you can select) – which your team will use to write their own poem. IN-Q performs a poem to show you what you can do with the prompt – and then helps your team to write their own rap or poem about the topic.


What is the outcome?

“The experience created a deeper sense of trust between colleagues,” John Smits says in the WSJ story. “I learned about my team in ways that I don’t think I could have typically done over a dinner.”


What do team leaders need to plan this Experience for their team?

Most importantly, to benefit from this powerful Experience, leaders need to manifest the essential dimension of leadership – choosing ‘courage’ over ‘comfort’. “I knew it would be something equally uncomfortable for everyone, which proved to be true,” Mr. Smits says. Tactically, leaders can book the Experience for their teams on Teamraderie marketplace.


The Importance of Building Team Connection


Why is remote employee engagement so important? Connection is one of the best methods to create an efficient and productive workplace. When a team is fully connected, healthy working relationships flourish, collaboration flows, and knowledge is shared. As team members connect further, the more successful the team as a whole can be.


Connection through remote employee engagement builds trust. It drives communication, increases productivity, and pulls people together. When people are connected, they’re more likely to be creative, can engage in healthy competition, and are often more accepting. On top of that, it can create a beautiful company culture where everyone feels they belong.


How Does Poetry Deepen Communication?


While it might seem like an odd choice for remote employee engagement, poetry is an amazing way to create connection. Poetry can come in many forms. It can be straightforward and obvious, with no interpretation needed since the words say it all. On the other hand, some poems are very mysterious and open to ideas and interpretation. Some poems are even totally off the wall and strange. Everyone will write poetry in different ways, and each person can have their own interpretation of what it means.


When it comes to communication, poetry offers a way to stretch language. Someone who writes down poetry can communicate in a way that isn’t possible with other written communication. While stories and conversations are a good way to connect, poetry is different. Sensation and imagery can be added to deepen the communication, even when poetries aren’t full of hidden symbols and ideas.


There’s also the fact that poems are going to create a different feeling in each person who experiences them. As a form of remote employee engagement, people get the chance to truly understand others. Since everyone may have a different opinion about what a poem is like, it can lead to a conversation about these different views.


As a team works to discuss the different interpretations of a poem, this lets them know each other better. Knowing each other more fully is something that can be brought back to the workplace. The effects of connection can be seen in the sense of belonging, better productivity, and more.


How else does poetry work as a method of remote employee engagement? When someone writes a poem, it often goes into the small details. You never know how people will read into each of the lines. Poetry is all about showing a scene in a reflective way, which is like bringing a refreshing new perspective to a situation.


As you can guess, these are all things that also work well in the workplace. As hybrid workers, this kind of connection can lead to better communication on the job. It opens up the world to collaboration, creativity, and innovation, all from remote employee engagement involving poetry. It could offer more than you ever expected.


Reading Poetry Can Strengthen Team Bonds


If you’re looking for a way to introduce remote employee engagement, maybe poetry would work for you too. One of the benefits of reading poetry is that it creates an emotional response. Unlike reports and journals, and other reading material at work, poetry is made to drive emotion. It makes you feel something deep inside.


Being around others and sharing your poetry or reading poetry with people lets them connect with you on a new level. It’s a way of baring your soul that goes beyond the typical workday conversations. This is why it can act as a fantastic form of remote employee engagement.


Another benefit of reading poetry is that it can improve cognitive functioning. In a way, it can make people smarter. While you read words when poetry is in front of you, there’s more to the process than that. The act of reading poetry means an understanding of the meanings, emotions, and sounds of each of those words. 


As the brain puts all these things together, the brain function peaks. This leads to better overall cognitive health. It gives you more to think about and take in than just the words of the poetry. It requires a deeper style of thinking and reflection.


Third, using poetry as remote employee engagement can help with boosting memory and creating a better means of self-reflection. Some studies with MRIs show that poetry causes certain parts of the brain to activate. These are the same parts that come alive during daydreaming. 


Poetry also tends to stay with a person longer than other types of reading. Many people will reread it several times to get the full experience. This can lead to memorization of the words. The poetic words used are easier to remember than standard words, which can also help the memory, which is a boon in the workplace.


All of these things make poetry a great option for remote employee engagement. The increase in cognition and memory are both exceptional for keeping a great team going through projects. Self-reflection can provide a means to better understand oneself at work and away from it. The emotional response makes people feel more connected. It can build a sense of belonging that is essential with a hybrid team.


If you want to introduce hybrid employee engagement, consider a poetry experience. It might be just the right thing to bring everyone together in a deeper way. You’ll see all kinds of benefits, and it can be done virtually so everyone can participate.


 If you are looking to strengthen connection, trust and creativity in your team, consider going through this Teamraderie experience together.

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