As the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and governments begin to roll back their shelter-in-place restrictions, commuters across the country have an arduous first task ahead of their return to the workplace: solving for the commute.
Over the past month, Scoop’s Research Team has been working hard as part of the country’s first wave of research analyzing how COVID-19 is impacting how employees feel about commuting. The team, led by Rachel Buck, Scoop’s Head of User Experience, conducted a thorough survey of over 10,000 employees around the country to gauge their shifting attitudes about commuting and the return back to the workplace.
In advance of Scoop’s second webinar in the Future of the American Commute series this Friday, May 29, we caught up with Rachel for a preview of why employers will want access to this valuable data as they work further into their return-to-workplace planning—and how commuting will play a pivotal role in the success (or failure) of any plan.
Save your seat for part two of our webinar series “Analyzing and addressing commuter sentiment in the COVID-19 world”
Who participated in the Scoop survey?
“We conducted two online surveys: one of over 1,600 Scoop commuters and another of over 10,000 workers across the United States. We chose these populations because it’s important to include a broader workplace population to surface representative sentiments.”
What are some of the best practices you used, and what can employers learn from surveys like this?
“This data we gathered is extremely relevant right now and will be used to help inform the return-to-workplace strategies for organizations across the nation. Although it may seem fairly obvious that the landscape for commuting and working is changing due to COVID-19, it was important for us to understand how we can support our community and employer partners with data to help them make informed decisions for their workforces. By conducting a nationwide survey like this, we can help employers better understand what employee preference changes might signal and mean for their organizations. The future of the commute and the workplace is still being determined, and we at Scoop are dedicated to taking an active role in examining and understanding it.
What I think organizations can learn from how Scoop approaches a survey of this magnitude—and make sure you tune in Friday, as I’ll cover this in more detail—is that cross-functional collaboration is key.
In building this survey, we put together a task force across the entire organization to represent different points of view. That’s crucial because, with a topic as broad as commuting, there isn’t just one facet to it—it impacts a lot of different areas.
As employers look to put together their own surveys, it’s important to include a cross-section of representatives like HR, Finance, Marketing/Communications, Health & Safety, Analytics, the C-level suite, and more. This approach really helped me understand the concerns and questions everyone on our team had, and my team was better able to triangulate their questions and curiosities and pair it with secondary research to form our own hypotheses and build questions that warrant original research and inquiries—stuff no one in the market has yet to talk about.
This isn’t to say you need to include everything everyone wants to uncover, but going through this type of process helps any organization understand what different teams care about, and that plays a pivotal role in making something that is both cohesive and representative.”
What are the key themes we see from commuters as they think about the return to the workplace?
“Interesting, but not surprising, is that we see health and safety rise to the absolute top when it comes to evaluating their commute options. Commuters think about safety as physical safety—”is this mode safe and reliable for me to get from A to B.” Health concerns have to do more with longer-term outcomes or ‘will this have an impact on my own physiological wellness.’
We saw a 35% increase in the importance of health when determining commute modes from pre-COVID to now. Prior to COVID-19, safety was seen as a baseline to any commute mode option. When you think about the hierarchy of needs, this seems obvious, and other variables like convenience or reliability get layered on top of safety.
What’s interesting from our specific research now is that health is becoming more prominent than safety. Over time, I think we’ll see these two needs become more intertwined as commuters begin to think about them so essentially.”
Anything surprising or you didn’t expect to find in the data?
“One of the most surprising trends to me has to do with sentiments around working from home preferences, and the motivations being tied to vaccine development. Of course, there is a subset of employees that want to go back to work ASAP—and we’ll elaborate on this data in more detail during the webinar Friday—but the arrival of a vaccine seems to be a big motivator in employees’ desire to remain at home. This was consistent across both groups we surveyed.”
Why should employers join the webinar Friday?
“Since we’re on the forefront of this emerging research, you’ll learn a lot of valuable data about the commute you won’t find anywhere else. But also, one of the most exciting things is that we’ll share what this data means for your organization and how you can use it to plan an employee-centered return to workplace and transportation program evaluation. The insights we’ll cover on the webinar can be leveraged collaboratively across your organization—not just by transportation program managers—but all leaders.”