COVID-19 has continually challenged our lives and how we conduct in-person business. Many industries have found ways to make it work with the help of technology. This is particularly true for our clients who want to conduct qualitative research. How we can make it work and provide effective insights while keeping our clients and participants safe has been one of our top priorities.
We engage with thousands of people each year as we conduct research around the world. In many cases, we are privileged to meet with participants in-person, as we conduct ethnographies in their homes or invite them to research facilities to tell their stories and discuss their needs. In some cases, particularly when fielding health-related studies, we come into contact with those who are among the most vulnerable to viral and respiratory infections.
In March of 2020, when COVID-19 turned the US and the rest of the world upside down, our team at Escalent gathered to discuss the key needs and priorities for how we would handle the developing travel restrictions and fielding challenges that would emerge if the situation escalated. The priority for every team member was simple and unanimous: We will not put clients and participants at risk. There is no research objective that outweighs personal safety.
In collaboration with our clients, we put approaches in place that limit the need for respondents to participate in in-person research.
The fact remains that despite, and in some cases, because of, the obstacles COVID-19 has put in our way, there are critical business challenges that need to be addressed for many companies, so we consistently revisit and adapt our approaches in response to the evolving situation.
For any in-person research (regardless of industry or audience), we require our research facility partners to commit to following our in-person research protocol, which we developed in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic. Some of the highlights include:
The research industry has encountered and dealt with many crises over the years that have impeded travel, such as natural disasters, political upheaval and international conflict. And, while timelines may shift, we always find a way to gather the insights needed to drive critical decision-making for our clients.
While qualitative research helps us to deeply understand peoples’ lives, thoughts and behavior, we must ensure that our research design, practices and logistics always keep our participants and employees safe. On the average day, this is important out of respect for their time and effort—but in the midst of a health crisis, it is essential for their safety and well-being.
Send us a note if you would like to discuss how to keep your global research moving amid these challenges, and leverage our creative strategies for fielding and engagement.