The remote work revolution comes with challenges that have not been remotely solved in most organizations that have made the transition.
Among these challenges are:
- Remote onboarding;
- Zoom fatigue and remote meeting overload;
- Up-to-date cybersecurity and tech training;
- Culture-building by remote staff;
The solution to these problems may be right there in your pocket: podcasting.
How podcasting solves a plethora of post-pandemic problems
The most popular public podcasts don’t sound beneficial to the functioning of a remote-friendly organization.
Partisan political rants. Left-over public radio shows. Sex and dating advice. Movie reviews. True crime.
But the success of these shows reveals that the podcast medium has attributes totally lacking from other media used for internal communications. Specifically, podcasts done right are:
- Engaging. The podcast medium has exploded in recent years because its informal nature is hyper-engaging to the human mind. Members of a generation criticized for short attention spans will spend three hours listening to their favorite podcast. However, if you really want employees to learn, pay attention and engage with content, podcasting is proven to enable this. As a bonus, employees can chime in with well-considered input in the “comments” below a podcast episode.
- Personality driven. The podcasting medium is intimate and makes hosts and guests feel like people they know personally. In the remote-work era, work-from-home (WFH) employees can feel estranged from their team leaders, supervisors, co-workers, and others. Serial podcasts create a psychological bond with hosts and guests.
- Comfortable. The problem with “meeting overload,” “Zoom fatigue,” and other complaints about meetings is that “I’m in the meeting.” People feel “on the spot,” judged, stared at, confronted, ignored, interrupted, and trapped by meetings. Podcasts, on the other hand, are super comfortable. Listeners and viewers can be a fly on the wall, “consuming” the conversation and content without self-consciousness or feeling powerless. Boosting that comfort is the fact that podcasts are….
- Audience-controlled. Unlike meetings, podcasts can be paused, slowed down, sped up, or turned up in volume — and you can repeat or skip whole passages. This creates a satisfying feeling of control and makes information consumption far more efficient and effective.
- Searchable and usable as reference. Unlike meetings, the content, insights, and even decisions, can be retained for posterity in a searchable format.
- Flexible. Remote and hybrid work call for asynchronous communications. Podcasts are the ultimate asynchronous medium. Team members can “consume” them while driving, walking the dog, or doing laundry. Consuming audio content while doing something mundane and physical is the only kind of multitasking that works.
- Tribe-building. The best podcasts naturally form audience communities around the subject matter. The TWiT podcast network (to which I am a frequent contributor and where I am a former host and employee) has its legendary “TWiT Army” of devoted fans who bond over their favorite shows. Podcasting can engender community.
How to leverage podcasting to solve real problems
The last thing organizations need is for some out-of-touch executive going through the motions to create fake podcasts because they heard it’s what the kids are doing nowadays.
If “podcasting” means distributing existing training videos as podcasts or reading employee manuals into a microphone, it’s not worth doing.
Podcasting is a real medium — a craft and an art.
Its powers are subtle, and harnessing its potential calls for experience, expertise, and intention.
My recommendation is to establish a podcasting organization within your company.
Create audio podcasts on various topics, purposes, and projects, enabling employees to comment and interact via text, audio, and video.
Find champions within the company, and hire a full-time professional podcaster to create and host interview podcasts with company leaders.
(A range of companies specialize in helping with internal, private company podcasts — companies like Storyboard, Podbean, uStudio, blubrry, whooshkaa, and many others.)
Funnel as much informational content as possible into the podcasting medium — onboarding content, cybersecurity training, project updates, best practices, health, and safety instruction, mental and physical health awareness, and sales training.
The list goes on.
Present this material in conversational, personable formats using unscripted conversation, humor, storytelling, and other elements of natural human interaction.
Strive for authenticity, not performance.
Use podcasting analytics and other techniques to measure the effectiveness of your podcasts, and use that data to make ongoing, iterative improvements.
Podcasting best practices involve the creation of searchable “show notes,” which, at minimum, specify the people involved and provide links and other content that augment the material presented in each episode.
The Wiki format also works for this purpose.
Invite experts, partners, employees at all levels, and others to participate as podcast guests or hosts.
Private, organization-only podcasts have been around for a few years.
But the future of work should elevate this idea to a serious priority for your organization because the podcast medium is uniquely suited to solving many of the problems that crop up with remote and hybrid work.
It’s time to subscribe to the podcasting idea.