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Reflecting on a year of working under Covid-19 restraints

The past year has resulted in widespread reflection across the UX industry, as people have modified their working practices in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lagom was already a largely remote-working business, but we were no different, and it has been just over a year since we decided to stop travelling for any face-to-face meetings with clients and user research participants. 

In that time we have continued to deliver high quality research for our clients across a wide range of projects. At a recent team day, we sat down and reflected on the ways in which our working practices have changed – thinking about the things we want to keep once the pandemic is over and things that we might want to bring back into our workflow.  

RSA Covid-19 response framework

Retrospectives like this are not new to Lagom, we typically carry them out after every project to make sure that we continue to learn from our work. To facilitate this conversation, we used a handy framework published by the RSA. 

The top row of the framework refers to changes that are a direct result of Covid. People might want to continue these things going forwards (amplify) or get rid of them completely (end). 

The bottom row of the framework refers to things that we have stopped as a result of the pandemic. People might want to restart some of these activities or let go of them completely.  

Things that we will continue to do more of in the future 

Remote show and tells

Remote show and tells have become the norm over the past year. Initially this seemed like a difficult session to run as it can be hard to gauge the reaction of an audience when you aren’t in the same room. Over time, however, we have recognised the benefits that are on offer by presenting work in this way.

In particular it has offered an incredible opportunity to present work to larger audiences. We have found it easier to get people in a ‘virtual room’ for two hours, whereas in the past people have had to commit the best part of a day to travel to the appropriate office where a presentation is taking place. 

More video calls (but also more phone calls)

In the past, our default for interviews was to carry them out over the phone. Over the course of the pandemic we have carried out more and more research sessions using just about every video conferencing tool out there. We’ve found that our participants are expecting video calls as the norm now rather than the exception and we are finding that people are more open to talking with cameras on as a result.  

Conversely, we have also noticed that our clients sometimes express relief when we ask if they would like to have a phone call instead of a video call. So whilst we will look to use video more we will also remind ourselves of the value offered by phone calls too.       

Online client sessions 

Our use of online tools to facilitate client sessions has increased over the past year. We have found that tools like Miro and Trello have enabled us to take physical activities into the digital space. In some cases, taking these activities online have worked as well or better than carrying them out in person. So whilst we will want face-to-face sessions with clients in the future, we’ll be even more careful when deciding what these sessions are. 

Things that we will bring back 

Field visits 

Field visits played an important role in our research activity pre-pandemic. They work particularly well when we are researching an incumbent, well used service. In response to the pandemic, we have transitioned to remote observation sessions where participants walk us through a service whilst screen sharing. Whilst this works to an extent, it doesn’t quite replicate the serendipity of observing people as they use services in the correct context. 

Getting together as a team

Whilst we are a fully remote team with members dispersed around the UK, we used to regularly see each other in person. Most of the time this was at a client site or research activity, or one of our team ‘away days’. This is something that we have really missed over the past year. With an increase in remote activities going forwards, we will place even more value from those occasions when we are in the same place.

 Summary 

Over the past year we have reacted to Covid-19 by taking our existing offline activities online and developing entirely new ways of conducting research.This blog has highlighted some of the things that we think are worth keeping in our workflow and some of the things that we want to bring back when face-to-face meetings are appropriate. 

This means that clients might continue to see us remotely in the future, whilst even greater importance is placed on face-to-face sessions. It also means that participants can expect to see us in person again, where we can fully appreciate the context in which they use the services we are investigating. 


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