A year on from lockdown

User Experience & Usability

A year on from lockdown – shaping the employee experience, home working practices and remote UX research.


(alt=”Drawing in a window of a pandemic rainbow of Hope, with the words - Everything will be ok!”)

As we approach the one year mark since the first lockdown, we’ve taken a look back at what we’ve been doing at System Concepts, how we’ve adapted and what we’ve learned about ways of working.

“What can you say about the past year? Although everyone has been presented with the same core problem, everyone’s experience of this year has been different. Some people have been able to see benefits in a slower-paced life, whilst others have been dealt the worst cards possible. As a researcher, it’s been fascinating to see how adaptable we are and what can be achieved under difficult conditions. I’ve been hugely inspired by what our consultants have accomplished over the past year.”

Katherine Lee, Managing Director (UX)

We’ve been helping our clients shape their employee experience…

Infographic detailing the 7 steps of How to make a human centred organisation. 1. Embrace differences. 2. Prioritise UX and accessibility. 3. Harmonise your environment. 4. Protect your people. 5. Create meaningful work. 6. Be open and trustworthy. 7. Act in an ethical way.

The pandemic has further highlighted the importance for businesses to take a step back and understand what their company processes are, and where they want the business culture to be. A business that applies a human-centred design approach can increase the loyalty and trust of its customers, shareholders and employees, and improve staff motivation. It can also decrease staff turnover and ultimately contribute to a happier, healthier workforce.

Download a copy of the full infographic, with more detail here.

We’ve shared our views on how and when to run remote UX research

In the field of user research, remote research has for a long time been key to what we do. The past year has probably given us all the push to get more creative.

There are times when conducting research face-to-face is needed, if not just preferable. For example, if we have physical products that we want to test with participants or when conducting accessibility testing where it is often easier to build a rapport and deal with any technical issues related to assistive technologies, in-person.

There are many situations, however, when we choose remote research as our go-to. If you missed our remote UX wheel visual, here it is again.

The Remote UX Wheel, detailing various UX techniques.

Read the full article on tips for running remote UX research.

We’ve continued to work with awesome clients

Depending on the problem we’re trying to solve, we’ve had to adapt and carefully think through how to get to the research insights we need, with restrictions in place. Where we may have conducted ethnographic research (which is still possible remotely in the right context), we’ve run diary studies and where we may have carried out lab-based research, we’ve used Zoom, Teams, WebEx – the lot.

We’ve taken our clients along for the ride, which has helped us to maintain collaborative working relationships. Through remote research, with participants feeling more comfortable in their own environments, it’s probably been easier to recruit time-poor participants. It’s also allowed us to observe people interacting in their natural environment with their own devices.

A few of the projects we’ve worked on since March last year are outlined below.

Sharing the learnings as we go

With a steady stream of catch ups via Teams and Zoom, we’ve had workshops, show and tells, as well as ideation sessions. There is always a fine line between keeping people engaged and fatigue with meetings for meetings sake, so we try to keep things visual and targeted, whilst timeboxing catch ups.  Remote training and digital learning have been, and will continue to be, key.

Some of our clients prefer Teams, others Zoom or WebEx. Some prefer Mural, some are more comfortable with Miro. We will use Google Docs or SharePoint for files…whatever takes your fancy. The most important thing for us has been keeping our team and clients involved and making sure everyone has the chance to speak up in situations when the body language, you pick up on from in-person interactions, might be missed.

Naturally, we’ve been gathering insight into how you’re all coping with working remotely

We gathered feedback from 108 employees from across the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, the U.S., South Africa and the Philippines. With most of us working from home, some of the biggest benefits were work / life balance, reduced levels of stress (for those of you with children, we’ll get onto that!) and increased productivity. In saying that, employees reported needing more support with at-home office set-up, wellbeing, having the tools to do their job effectively and a more structured home working strategy.

Infographic showing the issues versus benefits of working from home. Issues: Unable to switch off, loneliness, no suitable home office, juggling childcare, expectation to be constantly available. Benefits: A good work-life balance, less stress, better focus, increased productivity, no commuting.

Download a copy of the full employee experience infographic.

We’ve listened to feedback and provided ergonomics tips for working from home

These practical set-up tips will help you make the best use of the equipment you have, whether it’s just a laptop or a full ergonomic workstation.Infographic detailing our top tips for setting up your home office.Download a copy of our working from home – ergonomics tips infographic.

Many of us have battled our way through entertaining and home schooling kids

Where do you start?! It’s been quite the journey, and we know we still have some way to go. If you’re a parent working from home and have been balancing your own job and home schooling or childcare, we salute you!

To help with home schooling, we’ve provided tips on setting up a work area for your child that is comfortable and ergonomically sound.Infographic detailing our top tips for setting up your children for home schoolingDownload the full ergonomics for home schooling infographic.

(alt="A collage of children playing or taking part in activities")And we’ve obviously thrown in a bit of fun along the way, trying to enhance home schooling and help our kids stay positive.

We’ve kept in touch with the team

With a focus on mental health, we’ve bonded in adversity through coffee catch ups and the chance to just chat about what we’re up to. Some of us have gotten engaged, had babies, moved house, home-schooled – it’s easy to forget at the moment how much a quick chat with your colleagues can boost your mood and keep you motivated.

(alt="The System Concepts Team on a MS Teams meeting")

From our Task Master Christmas party (no photos of that one on the internet thanks!) to decorating our homes within an inch of their lives…

(alt=”A collage of various Christmas trees and decorations”)

…to, “I’m sorry, this is an oyster” Pictionary challenges and quizzes (yes, that’s an oyster).

(alt="Online Pictionary drawing of an oyster")

What’s next?

With a roadmap out of lockdown planned, but inevitably changeable, we’ll continue to carefully plan, share and innovate. A lot of companies are looking to return to a hybrid approach to working, and this is something we’ll continue to support our team and clients with. There are many benefits to this, including the impact on the environment and increasing efficiency in working practices. We love being in a room with our team and clients, hashing things out and sparking ideas, but the past year has made companies and employees look closely at what they need to work happily, effectively and efficiently.

Speech bubbleGet in touch if you need any advise on employee experience, user research, remote working, ergonomics or wellness. Our fantastic team are always on hand to help! 

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