‘Audioboom’ podcast labour stories

It’s got a website and a website and a website and a Facebook page. And, for many of the people who worked there – mostly women – it feels like a prolonged marriage. The…

'Audioboom' podcast labour stories

It’s got a website and a website and a website and a Facebook page. And, for many of the people who worked there – mostly women – it feels like a prolonged marriage.

The ‘gig economy’ defined by Uber, Google and Amazon has displaced legions of workers – including many women – from permanent jobs.

All of this has stirred up substantial debate and it still will when you hear stories like the one shared by the folks at Audioboom.

Audioboom is a free podcast company that’s currently known best for its television content and audio podcasts.

‘You might get these guys being really bummed out and everyone else is getting on a party bus,’ said Douglas Wilson, the CEO of Audioboom, ‘but then, by the time you get there, I don’t think it’s quite so bad.’

The company, in Waterloo, Ontario, as well as some of the folks who worked there, decided to have their say with short video testimonials.

The pool of employees at Audioboom seems to have few commonalities. The ones that we talked to seemed a little scattered – they mentioned that many had “branch offices” and others expressed boredom.

Lara Bottawa calls it the “situation.”

“When I was seven or eight years old, and I still remember being 10, I was really scared of the Rubik’s Cube,” she said, ‘and I was sitting there with my friend thinking, well, you know what? It’s a major challenge to be able to be losing a puzzle game to my friend who’s seven years older. Like, she’s got a set of tickets.”

In other words, the staffers themselves may have not had a lot in common in life.

Some interviewed described a brutal, tenuous workplace.

In the end, these are employees who struggled to keep work flexible.

“Nobody ever wants to work from home,” someone said in one of the videos.

“Our work was never interrupted,” a woman added.

“Sometimes, we couldn’t work from home,” said someone else.

Audioboom’s CEO is more philosophical than some of his staff and thinks some of the employees probably would have succeeded if the company had never been invented.

“I have never worked out of my living room,” Wilson said.

“I get that,” said one of the interviewees, ‘but we weren’t working from the first chair.’

Nonetheless, it can be exhausting to travel from one branch office to another in cars, listening to audio interviews about your work.

“I really did get burned out,” one woman said.

There was also less emotional bonding when your co-workers were always so busy.

“All the people I’ve known for the last 10 years, I’ve never had an uninterrupted conversation,” one person said.

And you’re not really coming home at the end of the day.

Audioboom was started in 2011. It raised $3.4 million that year, and continued to grow, initially focusing on television, before evolving to work in audio.

“Every day of my life is different,” one person said.

“And what that was to me was a healthy couple of years and freedom that I’ve never had before,” said another.

The interviewees appear to have moments of what Wilson called a false “hooray” following a job loss or other shock.

“Really when you look at the decision that was made by both the external world and external factors, it was not for the benefit of women in the workplace,” Wilson said.

‘Women have a vastly different work life than men, and those are the types of choices women and men have to make, and some people make them for a better life,’ Wilson said.

The interviews didn’t include any women, but when he was asked, Wilson said he felt the company wasn’t representative of gender.

He said women were always invited to participate in interviews, and it was hard to get women to even speak to him as a male employee.

And when he made the company’s decision to end the 24-hour recording time at the head office, employees who had not planned to retire were asked to quit.

‘It was very stressful to have to fire this many people,’ Wilson said.

In a way, these videos are trying to say, these women maybe don’t want to work from home, and in some ways, they may not even really want the flexibility or excitement of working from home.

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