COVID-19 study series: returning to the workplace

By UserTesting | May 22, 2020
woman using laptop

Welcome to UserTesting HITs, an ongoing series in which we share human insight trends (HITs) that we uncover from studies conducted by the UserTesting team. We hope you find these insights interesting and that they inspire you to conduct similar studies of your own!

What we did

We asked 40 US and UK employees who are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic about their concerns returning to the workplace, what they're looking forward to, and what employers can do to make them feel more comfortable.

What we learned

Key insights

  • Most enjoy the perks of working from home, which include greater flexibility, fewer office distractions, money and time savings, and better work/life balance.
  • 88% would like to continue working from home because they feel safer from the virus, have created new routines they're used to and appreciate benefits like more family time and no commute.
  • Most understand what their employers are doing to ensure a safe return to the workplace, and they are aware of what is expected of them as employees, but over-communication is preferred.

Hear what employees had to say

What employees are looking forward to

  • Socializing
  • A change in environment
  • More structure in the day
  • Getting back to "normal"
  • Working in-person with colleagues
  • Fewer interruptions and distractions

I had a routine I was used to. I was more productive at an office where I could focus my time and thoughts on my work. Now, I have to separate that in an environment where there are different distractions.

What employees are concerned about

  • No communal areas
  • Commute time and expenses Increased risk of virus exposure
  • Challenges with safety precautions Losing the "perk" of working from home

It'll be hard to breathe wearing a mandatory mask

I’m torn between the health risks of returning and taking care of my family versus staying safe and losing everything.

Recommendations for transitioning back to the workplace

  • Limit visitors
  • Communicate policies ahead of return 
  • Changes to social norms, such as handshaking
  • Social distancing and other safety precautions, such as mandatory masks
  • Provide flexibility to continue working from home
  • Make time for hand-washing and cleaning
  • Restrict large gatherings and meetings
  • Regularly clean shared surfaces and tools Increase awareness of COVID-19 symptoms
  • Clear policies for a procedure when someone contracts COVID-19

Share your insights with us! 

Have you conducted a similar study? Did these findings inspire you to run some experiments of your own? Insights are always best when shared, so share your biggest "a-ha" moments with us on Twitter with #RealHumanInsight.

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About the author(s)

With UserTesting’s on-demand platform, you uncover ‘the why’ behind customer interactions. In just a few hours, you can capture the critical human insights you need to confidently deliver what your customers want and expect.