Why audio is essential in the era of hybrid workplaces

3 March 2022
Michelle Lomas

Michelle Lomas, General Manager, Ampel

COVID has been a generation-defining event. It’s taught us many things - how to use zoom; how to bake; how to successfully workout in the tiniest spaces; and how to work productively and collaboratively from home. As a result, the typical 9-5 work week suddenly feels out of step with today's connected lives, and we now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine what work looks like. Why spend 2 hours commuting every day, only to sit in meetings that could have been a zoom?

Communicating and building culture in a hybrid workplace is complex. With happy hour drinks a thing of the past and team meetings reduced to muted zoom calls, it's hard for employees to feel genuinely connected and informed. That's perhaps why just 10% of the global workforce of respondents in a recent PWC study stated they wanted to return to a traditional working environment. For the remaining 90% - the grass is indeed greener in our backyards, and remote working has become the balance we’re seeking.

According to the ABS, 33% of Australian businesses plan to continue hybrid working post the pandemic. Hybrid workplaces are attracting and retaining employees through more flexible and favourable working conditions and opening the global workforce to allow a wider pool of talent. But while there are significant benefits to employee retention and satisfaction, the reimagining of a new workplace requires a rethink of more than just operating hours, but how we create, collaborate, and grow.

But with the great resignation upon us, it is too costly for employers not to rethink strategies that can keep their employees engaged and loyal.

That's where the strength of audio comes in. Audio is intimate, accessible, a convenient channel and, thanks to COVID, is part of our day-to-day habits. Therefore, it stands to reason employers should leverage this highly intimate, personal, and convenient channel that employees love, and connect them in a physically disconnected, workplace.

Audio is intimate. When physical proximity is impossible, audio can transport people into a conversation and make them feel part of it. It's also convenient. For many, it's their choice of entertainment on the daily commute or the daily walk with the dog. So, while that email stays in the 'to be read when I have some spare time' pile, the latest company podcast episode is being listened to on the morning coffee run.

The benefits of a corporate audio strategy are clear: creating audio content costs a fraction of the cost of a video and its delivered fast. And new platforms such as Storyboard provide secure ways for businesses to share updates on a more regular basis with employees.

Forward thinking companies are looking at replacing the business update email with an interview with the CEO, featuring the latest results and new initiatives in the pipeline, as well as pre-sourced questions from their employees. And some businesses are replacing the usual 'welcome email' with a five-minute in-person interview with a new starter to hear firsthand what attracted them to the job and what they hope to achieve in the new role. Company-wide zoom calls are replaced with audio updates from different departments and delivered on a more regular basis. And let's not forget the costly education, wellness support and training sessions that could be delivered via audio and listened to individually and in your employee's own time.

Digital audio is booming, and podcasts are now mainstream. Podcast listening has increased +48% YOY, with over 25% of Aussies listening to a podcast once a week. And a study by Infinite Dial, over 25% listen at work, while over 50% listen on their commute to work.

An audio strategy is more than creating a podcast. Audio transformation requires considered thought and effort. A podcast shouldn’t replicate an email, nor should it be added to the existing channels and ways of communication. The delicate balance is to know what to create, and when, and what it should replace.

Strategies should focus on a business’ internal and external objectives, combined with challenges your teams may be facing now and in the future. Smart audio content should provide solutions to problems and make the working environment more convenient and connected for employees.

Leveraging audio in the workplace isn't new, but as we reimagine the workplace of the future, it should be a vital tool in a business’ transformation strategy.

Its convenient and intimate format hits the perfect notes for a modern hybrid workplace seeking to keep its employees retained and engaged.

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