COVID-19: Recruitment services update

Whilst we have been able to offer recruitment for telephone or video-based interviews throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we appreciate that from your perspective face-to-face interviews are a critical element of your work. We have compiled feedback from our recruitment network and viewing facilities in all of our key markets. You can see the feedback below (please note that just because a facility is open, it doesn’t guarantee recruitment feasibility).

Clearly, in the short term the world will be a very different place and as you plan upcoming projects, there are a number of things you will need to bear in mind when discussing requirements with your clients. These include:

  • There will likely be very high demand for recruitment once restrictions are lifted and clients seek to conduct work that has been postponed. This may have two impacts:
    1. Viewing facilities will be booked very quickly and consideration may have to be given to conducting interviews in alternative locations (e.g. hotel meeting rooms)
    2. For instances where participant cohorts are popular there may be issues with recruitment feasibility and/or recency of research participation
  • Many HCPs that haven’t been required on the ‘frontline’ have had reduced workloads during the COVID crisis. There is likely to be a period of ‘catch-up’ as they seek to engage with patients and procedures that were put on hold. This may impact on timelines/feasibility for recruitment
  • As restrictions are eased it is probable that public transport options may initially be limited in some markets. This could reduce the available pool of participants able to make it to a central location. Furthermore, where participants are drawn from vulnerable populations, we suggest that additional budget for taxi travel should be provided to avoid unnecessarily exposing them to the risk of COVID-19
  • It is likely that there may be further waves of the virus, either towards the end of the year or at the start of 2021. This needs to be considered when planning for Q4
  • We’d advise that longer lead times may be required for recruitment
  • It is possible that there may be an increased proportion of ‘no-shows’ and where numbers are critical, the inclusion of additional over-recruits is recommended
  • Daily interview schedules will need to take into account cleaning time and minimising the chances of participants coming into contact with each other (e.g. in the reception area of a viewing facility). We recommend leaving a gap of 30 minutes or more between interviews
  • Focus groups will not be possible in the majority of markets for the foreseeable future. Diads or possibly triads may be depending on the market.
  • Travel restrictions may not be lifted for some time, particularly with regard to entry into the US. We can help organise US moderators if required.
  • In all instances, end clients need to be fully aware of the risks and understand that they may incur costs if the research has to be postponed due to COVID-19

There will be ethical considerations to take into account when it comes to vulnerable groups. We are conscious that we have a responsibility to help minimise the risk to participants and would like to ask that you and your clients do the same when planning. Key questions to consider will be:

  • Will you require interviewees to wear face masks and if so, will you provide these?
  • Will you require any form of screening for the moderator/interview?
  • How can the cleanliness of devices be maintained/guaranteed and what reassurances are you able to offer participants in this respect at the time of recruitment?
  • If you choose or need to conduct research in a meeting room (rather than viewing facility), what will you be able to provide in relation to hand-sanitisation?
  • Some facilities have set-up intercom systems between the backroom and the interview room to enable the interviewer to sit in a different room to vulnerable/at-risk interviewees. Could this work for you?
  • Does the client have to attend and how many of your colleagues have to be present (a number of facilities we work with are now offering discounted streaming services – please ask us if this is relevant to the locations you are interested in)?
  • Who is ultimately liable from an insurance perspective if someone falls ill with COVID-19 as a result of participation in your study?

Our facility partners have been putting in a range of measures to minimise the risk of infection for clients and participants. These include:

  • Provision of hand sanitiser
  • Mandatory face masks (but be prepared to bring your own)
  • Facility staff wearing gloves
  • Physical distancing in waiting areas and viewing rooms
  • One way systems/corridor demarcation
  • Additional cleaning of reception areas between interviews
  • Limiting the number of clients able to attend sessions (please assume that streaming services should be used where possible)
  • Respondent and client refreshments limited to bottles/cans, boxed food and take-aways (served as delivered)
  • Discounted streaming (in some instances)


Here is the information regarding which markets are open and which are closed.

If you have further queries regarding these points or any other related recruitment concerns, please contact us on +44 (0)1473 832211.