Exploring the future of work



Vox podcasts team up to examine the policy, and reality, of our shifting work culture.

Last month we finished a massive collaboration across our podcasts that examined a topic that so many listeners told us was important to them: the dramatic, pandemic-induced shifts in the American workplace and whether these changes are permanent.

It’s not a stretch to say that the series exists because of our listeners. Back in early September, our daily news podcast, Today, Explained, released just one episode asking a simple question: Should we all be working a four-day workweek?

The response was overwhelming. We got voicemails, tweets, and lots of feedback. The episode quickly became our most listened to so far this year.

Which got us thinking: What other questions do you have about the future of work? So we asked.

By early October, listeners had sent us enough good questions to explore for an entire series. We heard from listeners who quit their jobs and started completely new careers. People were going back to school, starting new businesses, and moving due to the flexibility remote work offered. Another listener told us he thought Covid gave workers the upper hand. At his job working at a sports stadium, workers were able to raise their hourly wage from $16.69 to $24.30.

To whittle down ideas for each episode, we looked at stories on our website and in our videos for inspiration and to see where audio could enhance a story. This kind of collaboration between text and audio teams is pretty rare in newsrooms but something we regularly do at Vox. We also asked producers to submit ideas and cross-referenced those with the ones we got from our audience. We narrowed everything down to four themes that came up again and again and that we felt reflected the diversity of the topic across demographics, geography, and industries.

The series launched in late October, with the first of four new Today, Explained episodes exploring everything from who holds the power in the gig economy to the Great Resignation. Recode Daily took on the uncomfortable question of how much our bosses are watching us digitally and whether they have the right to monitor our online movements. The Weeds, our longest-running show focused on policy, explored how the changing labor market is reshaping our cities. And, in Vox Conversations, host Sean Illing talked to Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel about their upcoming book Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home.

Our engineer, Efim Shapiro, also made a completely original introduction to start each episode with a fun scan of work songs. It’s yet another great example of how our team’s creativity really comes from strong collaboration.

Last but definitely not least, we collaborated with our readers. Some of the testimonials heard in the episodes are from our listeners, who called and wrote in to share their experiences in this brave new work world.

In 2022, we’ll be continuing to track the shift in work culture and we still want to hear what our audience is experiencing or has questions about. Don’t hesitate to send your thoughts to todayexplained@vox.com.