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Free question set #2: Consult your employees about returning to work during Covid-19

26 May 2020 - Blog, Covid-19, News

Free question set #2: Consult your employees about returning to work during Covid-19

Now that the first announcements on lockdown easing have been communicated by the government, and guidelines on working safely during Covid-19 issued, we have a clearer picture of how to prepare for returning to work during Covid-19.

Government guidance shows how vital it is to consult your people in preparation for returning to work during Covid-19

“Employers have a duty to consult their people on health and safety. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from Covid-19. The people who do the work are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely.

At its most effective, full involvement of your workers creates a culture where relationships between employers and workers are based on collaboration, trust and joint problem solving.”

Our team of organisational psychologists have designed a short free question set designed to help you consult your employees on their feelings about returning to work during Covid-19, so you can involve them in the implementation of the next phase.  This is a starting point; there are of course many different situations for employers, with people returning to work in offices, factories, in homes, vehicles, labs and other premises.


The question set includes the following themes around returning to work during Covid-19:

  1. Practicalities – barriers to returning to work
  2. Timing – when might be appropriate
  3. Preferences – for working from home or on site
  4. Communication – how well-informed people feel
  5. Involvement – do people feel listened to
  6. Confidence – in the organisation’s leaders and plans
  7. Learning – from the lockdown experience

The final questions nod to the future, seeking to capture something of people’s views around the longer term that can be explored at greater length as the ‘new normal’ is being formed.

It may well be appropriate to incorporate some of the questions from the previous People Insight COVID-19 pulse too, so that you can measure progress.

Using the question-set

  1. In an ad-hoc survey

Copy and paste the question set into your existing platform to create a pulse survey and get a measure of how employees are feeling. Customise the questions and response scales to suit the needs of your organisation.

  1. As part of your People Insight survey

Consider adding these questions as an index or section in your current or next People Insight survey. Ask your Client Service Manager or speak to our team for help updating your question set.

  1. Consider using the questions to structure guided discussions or focus groups

Online discussions or focus groups are a great way to engage your people and assess sentiment.


Returning to work during Covid-19: 18 questions to ask your employees

Theme Question Response type Note
Practicalities 1 What are the main barriers that you see in returning to work? Free text The response can include self-theming, e.g.:
-In an at-risk group
-Other care responsibilities
-Social distancing in work
-Availability of PPE
-Shift patterns
Practicalities 2 I believe I’ll be able to make appropriate travel arrangements to work on-site / in the office. Likert scale:
-Strongly agree
-Neither agree nor disagree
-Strongly disagree
Use questions in this format to understand the practical barriers to be overcome.
Could be adapted to ask about childcare, PPE etc.
Timing 3 This feels like the right time for a return to on-site working / working in the office. Likert scale  
Timing Please tell us more about your concern. open text Use if response to previous question is negative (Disagree or Strongly disagree)
Preferences 4 I know where to go to for support regarding my health, safety and wellbeing Likert scale  
Preferences 5 I would prefer to continue working from home for longer, rather than return to on-site working / working in the office. Likert scale  
Preferences 6 If our offices / sites were open today, I would prefer to work there. Likert scale  
Preferences 7 Ideally, how many days a week would you like to work in the office / on site? Select one of: 1-2-3-4-5 days  
Communication 8 I feel that I’m being kept well informed about what to expect in terms of returning to work. Likert scale  
Involvement 9 I feel that my views are being heard and considered in decisions about how we will be working in the future. Likert scale  
Involvement 10 If I had a concern about returning to work, I know how to raise it. Likert scale  
Confidence 11 I have confidence and trust in our company leadership. Likert scale  
Confidence 12 I am confident that this organisation will come out of the current situation strongly. Likert scale  
Confidence 13 I believe the measures we are taking will ensure that it is safe for employees to work on-site / in our offices. Likert scale  
Confidence Please tell us more about your concern. Open text Use if response to previous question is negative (Disagree or Strongly disagree)
Confidence 14 I believe that we are now well able to continue working remotely for at least the medium term (e.g. several months). Likert scale  
Confidence Please tell us more about your concern. Open text Use if response to previous question is negative (Disagree or Strongly disagree)
Overall learning 15 What recent experiences / ways of working do you think we should capture and ensure we retain for the future? Open text  
Overall learning 16 What aspects of our response should we learn from and do differently going forward? Open text  
Overall 17 Please feel free to share any other thoughts or comments here. Open text  
Additional demographic 18 Do you have caring responsibilities at home? Tick all that apply:
-pre-school children
-school age children
-vulnerable adults
-other caring responsibilities
-none of the above
Other additional demographics, including protected characteristics may be suitable at this time.


Need help adapting the questions for your organisation? Need to turn your survey around quickly?  Get help from our team of experts.  

Employee engagement during Covid-19: More resources  

  1. Employee engagement during COVID-19: Free question index  
  2. COVID-19: How organisations are preparing for the end of lockdown
  3. COVID-19: How organisations are adapting
  4. Should you be surveying during COVID-19?
  5. Line managers: Creating a new normal during COVID-19  
  6. Support for HR: Keeping employees engaged and motivated during COVID-19
  7. Our favourite wellbeing content to get us through Covid-19 lockdown
  8. Not alone but lonely: How to tackle workplace isolation and improve wellbeing at work

Looking for an employee survey at this time? 

To find out how People Insight can help you listen to your people during these unprecedented times, contact us here

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