The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been vast—on human life, on mental and emotional health, and on the economy. The disruption to work has led to big questions that may have been there all along, but that rose to the surface during the lockdown: Where do we work? When do we work? How do we work? And fundamentally, why do we work?
In January 2021, during the height of the pandemic, Godfrey Dadich Partners launched an editorial publication for Microsoft called WorkLab to explore the science and ingenuity of work at this pivotal moment. The stories examine the ongoing research that Microsoft is conducting about how people are adjusting to new ways of working. Godfrey Dadich assigns, edits, and designs all WorkLab articles, which range from longform features to service journalism to data visualizations. The articles have been so well received that Microsoft asked us to produce a podcast as a natural extension of the digital publication.
We jumped at the opportunity to create an intimate setting to further explore ideas and develop perspectives on this vital and ever-changing topic. The podcast allows us to bring Microsoft research to life in a surprising and engaging way, and to showcase the company’s executives and scientists as thought leaders. Just as importantly, the podcast provides a place for experts outside of Microsoft to share their insights and opinions on big questions about the future of work.
In collaboration with the team at Microsoft, we chose a theme for the first season: hybrid work. Though our target audience is business decision makers, each episode aims to help anyone from managers to recent hires better understand and navigate this new terrain through a conversation with an expert in the field.
For the eight-episode debut season, we compiled a wide-ranging guest list that included Jared Spataro, the leader of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams; Clare Purvis, clinical psychologist and senior director of behavioral science at Headspace; diversity, equity, and inclusion expert Ritu Bhasin; and Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom.
We then built the show’s structure. To stand out in the crowded “Future of Work” field that has emerged since the pandemic, we decided to home in on a surprising data point unique to Microsoft’s research that could drive the conversation between our main guest and Elise Hu, the veteran journalist whom we brought on as host. In addition, each episode features a segment to offer additional insight—from a Microsoft scientist, for example, or an employee whose own experience would help humanize the research. We recruited Godfrey Dadich editorial director Mary Melton, along with Microsoft futurist Desmond Dickerson, as the show’s roving correspondents to conduct these field segments. Our work included producing a trailer that featured all three hosts to tout the coming show.
The podcast needed its own landing page within WorkLab’s digital ecosystem, and each episode its own article post—including a transcript—so our creative team went to work. The core elements of the WorkLab identity informed the art direction of the podcast, and provided an opportunity to use key characteristics from the platform and bring them into a new context that still felt familiar within the system.
The team designed a strong graphic treatment for each article to match the vibrant aesthetic of the WorkLab digital publication. Our web experience team designed the landing page, ensuring an appealing and effortless user experience. In order to capture the optimistic energy of the editorial voice, the team paired the bright palette of the site with more gestural brushstrokes and elements inspired by the UI for the main title art. In addition to the main title art, each episode features a unique treatment with a portrait of the featured guest.
All of the elements, brought together, make for an unusually inviting and thought-provoking podcast in what can often be a dry and straightforward field.
WorkLab, the podcast, launched in September 2021, with nearly 3,000 downloads of the first episode. Microsoft, our client and partner on the venture, was thrilled with the first season. “Collaborating with GDP, we were able to quickly create a podcast that feels not just insightful but highly actionable,” said Microsoft’s Jessica Voelker, who is the editor of WorkLab. “Through strong interviews with some of the most interesting thinkers on the future of work, we’re offering business leaders real ways to help their employees at a moment when work is fundamentally changing.”
Downloads stayed consistent throughout the season, and the range of guests offered listeners many different perspectives on this ever-evolving topic, which we were covering in real time. Godfrey Dadich Partners was thrilled to help Microsoft offer a new way to showcase its research in such a dynamic and accessible manner, and to provide listeners a fresh perspective on big questions that are top of mind for managers and employees across the country and around the world. The show helps consumers and leaders make sense of a complex industry at a pivotal moment in its history.
An additional reason we knew it was a success? Microsoft was so happy with the results that they ordered a second season of the show, which will be debuting in March 2022.
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