A message from UserWorks’ president, Dick Horst, regarding our COVID-19 precautions as we return to offering in-person user research

After several months of everyone working from home and only conducting user research with remotely located participants, we are again offering in-person data collection options. This applies to usability testing, one on one in-depth interviews, small-size focus groups, and other user research studies, both those conducted in our in-house usability labs and by our personnel working in third party facilities.

We continue to make it our highest priority to try to protect the safety and well-being of our staff, research participants, other visitors to our offices, and everyone with whom we interact. We believe we remain in full compliance with the Covid-19 guidelines issued by the State of Maryland and Montgomery County as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We continue to monitor the public discourse about research on preventative measures and best practices for combating the spread of the novel coronavirus and to update our policies and procedures as warranted.

The following are some of the precautions that we have implemented:

General Policies and Procedures

  1. Our personnel are working in the office on a rotating schedule, at or less than 25% capacity on any given day.
  2. Staff and visitors are encouraged to adhere to social distancing and to wash hands frequently. Hand sanitizer is readily available.
  3. Staff and visitors are required to wear face masks at all times when they are interacting with others in the office and labs.
  4. Body temperatures are taken daily with a no-touch thermometer when staff and guests arrive. Anyone with a temperature of greater than 100.4 degrees (the CDC guideline) is asked to go home and quarantine.
  5. Staff and visitors are required to attest daily to a short questionnaire asking about any symptoms experienced or recent exposure to those who are ill or who have tested positive. Anyone who answers “Yes” upon arrival or who feels ill while on-site is asked to go home and quarantine.
  6. High-touch surfaces in the office are wiped down with disinfectant periodically during the day.

Lab Configuration and In-person Research Procedures

  1. The study moderator and research participant(s) are required to wear face masks and gloves at all times. They are offered face shields as well.
  2. Research participants who arrive before their appointment time are asked to wait outside our suite -- in their car, on seating outside the building, or in case of inclement weather, in the lobby of the building.
  3. If feasible, the moderator conducts the research session from an Observation Room which is separated from the User Room by one-way glass. If it is necessary for the moderator to sit with the participant in the User Room, they are separated by a plexiglass “sneeze guard.”
  4. Preferably one and no more than two people are allowed in our Observation Room at a time. They are separated by a plexiglass “sneeze guard.” Other observers are accommodated via remote connections.
  5. No more than four people are allowed in our focus group/conference room at a time. Their seating is configured to meet social distancing guidelines.
  6. Doors are propped opened during breaks and between sessions to increase ventilation.
  7. High touch surfaces are wiped down with disinfectant after each session. Hand sanitizer is readily available.

We encourage your comments and suggestions about these precautions. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us or me personally.


Dick Horst, Ph.D., CPE

President, UserWorks, Inc.


301-431-0500, x 213

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