Data & Tech

How a marketing software company solved its WFH woes

Wistia recently started an internal radio station DJed by employees to foster a sense of community while employees work from home.
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· 4 min read

Who doesn’t love the sound of their coworker’s music blasting from the next cubicle over?

Pre-pandemic, being subjected to a colleague’s music taste was probably a nightmare scenario for most people. But at Wistia, a video-hosting platform for B2B marketers headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts that’s still in a predominantly WFH setup, employees are voluntarily listening to one another DJ on an internal radio station.

The station, called or WIST Radio, has helped Wistia employees stay connected when IRL happy hours and meetups aren’t always an option, co-founder and CEO Chris Savage told Marketing Brew.

Second time’s the charm

As Wistia employees settled into a WFH routine, Savage discovered that he had a problem. Wistia runs engagement surveys on a quarterly basis, typically clocking high engagement among its employees, Savage explained. But “as the drudgery of remote working continued on,” workers started reporting that they were feeling less connected to their teams, he said.

So Wistia started hosting hackathons to drive ideas about how to keep connected. During one hackathon in April 2021, a handful of employees came up with the idea for WIST Radio. The first version garnered some interest, but ran into some technical difficulties that made it hard to DJ. The idea, however, never died.

During another hackathon in December 2021, a team proposed a solution to the tech issues in the form of a preexisting app called Gramrphone that allows people to record audio and play music from their computers and stream it directly to a webpage where others can tune in.

Since that process was simplified, WIST Radio has grown to include a couple of regular shows and an active Slack channel where employees talk about the music.

“It’s the type of thing that would happen in person organically all the time,” Savage said. “We need more spaces that are remote which are not just [for] work, and this has become one of those spaces for us.”

As of April, 158 of Wistia’s 180 employees tuned into WIST Radio, up from 55 in the same month last year, when the first version debuted. The average monthly listening time per employee is up from about two minutes to about 29 minutes, the company said.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

Coming up with content hasn’t been an issue, according to Frank Emanuele, Wistia’s social media manager, who was on the original hackathon team behind the idea and now hosts a weekly segment on WIST Radio called Fridays with Frank, during which he plays his favorite songs, including a lot of classic rock. Savage said Emanuele is Wistia’s “most-popular, most-loved” DJ, but Emanuele’s fame isn’t fazing other employees.

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“You’re going to find someone on there almost every day,” Emanuele said, usually for about an hour. Employees add their DJ sessions to a Google calendar and send Slack alerts about a half hour before they start queuing up songs. Some, like Emanuele, chat on air between tunes as a typical DJ would, and others don’t, but they all see engagement in the WIST Radio Slack channel, Emanuele told us.

“It’s an unspoken thing that as soon as someone is live, the chat lights up,” he said.

Other times, the WIST Radio programming is more serious. Every Tuesday, WIST plays a morning show that includes about five to 15 minutes of announcements before the music, a sort of “condensed version” of an all-hands meeting, Savage explained. Emanuele hosted the first 12 episodes, but then passed the mic to another colleague.

Emanuele said WIST Radio adds this “layer of water-cooler talk and a layer of connectedness that you wouldn’t get from more structured kinds of fun.”

Around the same time version two of WIST Radio debuted, the company also started producing an internal podcast about every other week that features employees interviewing other employees.

Wistia also bought Oculus VR headsets for all of its employees to participate in remote team-building activities, a more expensive endeavor than producing the radio shows and podcast. Together, Savage said, these initiatives have, in his view, helped solve the problem of isolation among Wistia employees.

“So much of this work we’ve been doing is trying to be connected while remote first,” Savage said. “Even going forward, we’re not forcing people in the office right now. There will be more people going in, but still, the remote connection is absolutely critical to how we operate.”

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