Creating and producing a podcast on leadership innovation
The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic was vast—on human life, on mental and emotional health, and on the economy. The disruption to work led to big questions that may have been there all along but 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, at 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 studies 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 long-form 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 important, the podcast provides a place for experts outside of Microsoft to share their insights and opinions on big questions about the future of work.
“Forward-looking companies don’t want to just tell stories about themselves,” says GDP Editorial Director Mary Melton. “They want to tell stories that are pertinent to their mission, and that are going to inform the outlooks—and even improve the lives—of their clients and consumers. That’s at the core of what we call The New Editorial, and the WorkLab podcast exemplifies that vision.”
In collaboration with the team at Microsoft, we chose a theme for the first season: hybrid work. Each episode aims to help managers and employees 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 guest list that included Jared Spataro, Microsoft corporate vice president of modern work and business applications; 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. Each episode homes in on a surprising data point to drive conversation between our main guest and veteran journalist Elise Hu, who 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 GDP’s own Mary Melton and Microsoft futurist Desmond Dickerson to be the show’s roving correspondents and conduct these field segments. Our work included production of a trailer featuring 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, so our creative team went to work. “The core elements of the WorkLab identity informed the art direction of the podcast,” says Natalie Estrada, art director at Godfrey Dadich. “This was 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.
The first season of the WorkLab podcast launched in September 2021. “Collaborating with GDP, we were able to quickly create a podcast that feels not just insightful but highly actionable,” says Microsoft’s Jessica Voelker, 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.”
Godfrey Dadich Partners is 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. And we were delighted that Microsoft, too, is happy with the results: they recently green-lit a sixth season of the show.