The past several months has been a trying and disruptive period, both for our industry and the world. As the curve starts to level, more and more economic areas have begun the process of re-opening, marking both opportunities and challenges for us conducting in-person research.
Since March, many of us in the research world have closely monitored the recommendations of both our government and medical experts. Social distancing, disinfecting processes and general greater sense of awareness in public places have become the new norms. As consumers and research participants emerge from self-isolation into the new world, it’s important to balance our research needs with the safety and peace of mind of participants.
Our ‘COVID19 Omnibus’ showed us that a majority of participants recognize the importance of sharing their opinions at this critical time, and largely feel that now is an appropriate time to participate in research. As research leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that appropriate quality control & safety measures can both still be implemented.
As we transition back from the lockdown, it’s important to take the following steps to ensure the health and well being of not only respondents but also supporting employees as it pertains to in-person research.
In-Person Facility Best Practices:
To ensure the safety of all individuals participating in research at in-person facilities, it’s important to ensure the following conditions are met:
- Sanitize the equipment and furniture before each shift
- Have respondents do a temperature check at check-in
- Ensure that mask & sanitizing/washing stations are available for respondents & staff
- Have respondents sign a travel & symptom waiver before entering the interviewing area
- Ensure that desks / chairs follow Social Distancing rules – minimum 6 feet apart
- Utilize floor signs as reminder of social distancing rules
- Limit the number of participants in a room at any one time – with a staggered entry
- Reconfigure facilities to ensure proper distancing between respondents & staff
- Use an electronic sign in and sign out for the respondent
- No hand-outs, all concepts / hand-outs will be presented electronically
- Product will be served in individual self-serve units only
- If utilizing HUTs after in-facility interview– sanitized product containers should be placed in carry out bags for respondents to take home.
- For HUTs without in-facility interview – respondents should be pre-screened by telephone/on-line before being mailed/couriered the product to their home in a sanitized container.
- If client viewing is required, a second room with monitors or virtual monitoring should be utilized.
In addition to the safety of respondents, it’s also important to consider the health and well being of employees supporting the research. The following should be used as best practices when conducting research in person.
Staff Best Practices:
- Measure and report staff temperature before coming in for each shift
- E-mail/text a daily travel & symptom waiver before coming in for their shift
- Wear masks and gloves where possible, always while at the facility
- Sanitize/wash hands frequently and after every interview
- Always maintain social distancing rules – minimum 6 feet apart
- Sanitize tablets / computers after each interview
- For product test – materials (plates, cutlery etc.) are one time use only
The post COVID-19 world will be a vastly different one for in person interviewing. However, by following some of the best practices above we can ensure that both respondents and staff are able to conduct in person research in a safe and secure environment.