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Your guide to Remote + On-site Work Pulse

21 min read
Want to know how your employees are faring – and how best to support them – during a crisis? Ask them, in real-time, with our free Remote + On-site Work Pulse. With this step-by-step guide, you’ll have everything you need to get started, tailor questions to fit your organisation, interpret the results, and drive action from insights.

Getting started with Remote + On-site Work Pulse

Many of your company’s employees have suddenly pivoted to working from home, but not everyone has shifted to remote work. Your workforce – and business model – is in flux.

As leaders grapple with how to support a now-distributed workforce, we want to help. Our Remote + On-site Work Pulse enables you to understand if your employees have the support they need to succeed in this new environment – both on-site and remotely.

The tool is a simple and flexible solution; it takes just a few minutes to set up and start requesting feedback from your employees. With instant pre-configured reporting that helps you prioritise actions from insights, you can make real-time improvements to employee well-being, resources, safety, and enablement throughout this disruption.

Before diving in, check out a few of our best practices for running a successful pulse:

  • Focus on what matters for people right now. Many employees are facing new challenges and may find themselves overwhelmed with the level of change to their normal routine, including working remotely, child care needs, or feeling isolated and lonely. Focus on what matters for people right now to determine the right questions to ask in your pulse. Anything else can wait.
  • Lead with empathy. It’s critical to collect open and honest feedback from your employees in order to support them. Acknowledge that morale can go down during this challenging time and that some employees may find it more difficult to adjust to working remotely.
  • Make the pulse your own. Make sure that the tone and content of the questions are right for your organisation. Consult leaders across various lines of business for their input and insights.
  • Keep the end in mind. Think about what you want to know about your workforce, and what sort of actions you’ll be able to take following the results.

Thinking through these topics ahead of creating your pulse will allow you to pinpoint relevant questions and anticipate the actions you’ll need to take after the results come back.

Here’s what else you’ll need to know to get started with Remote + On-site Work Pulse.

Step 1: Choose a pulse for your organisation

Developed by Qualtrics I/O psychology experts, the Remote + On-site Work Pulse XM Solution provides two methods for pulsing the workforce: the Quick Check-In and the Full Remote + On-site Evaluation.

Here’s how they break down:

The Quick Check-In

The Quick Check-In is a short two-question pulse to help you quickly assess workforce morale and well-being. If you are looking for a simple, quick way to assess how your employees are feeling overall, we suggest using the Quick Check-In.

Our strategy for keeping connected with volunteers during this time is simple. We send out a weekly pulse using Qualtrics, which asks three questions – how are you feeling, what is making you feel this way, and what can we do to help.

Didier Moutia from St John Ambulance

The Full Remote + On-site Evaluation

The Full Remote + On-site Evaluation helps you understand employee needs as they adapt to changing work environments whether remote or on-site.

The evaluation includes about 30 questions on the key topics that matter for employees right now:

  • Workforce support and balance: how employees are adapting to change and whether the right level of support is being provided to enable them to do their jobs
  • Leadership: how leaders connect with employees’ priorities and concerns
  • Communications: how informed employees feel during this time of change
  • Remote work enablement: what support your remote employees need to stay productive
  • On-site safety: what your on-site workforce needs to feel protected

Results are broken down by key demographics – such as location or teams – and between remote and on-site workforces to help identify the groups that need attention.

Tip: We recommend starting with the quick check-in as a simple, lightweight way to understand how employees are feeling in the midst of disruption. Then, follow up at a later time with the full remote + on-site evaluation to identify and prioritise areas of improvement.

Need more guidance setting up your pulse? Visit the Remote + On-site Work Pulse support page.

Step 2: Establish roles for taking action

Many organisations have created COVID-19 response teams involving experts from different functions (e.g. senior leadership, communications, HR, technology) to work together and act on people priorities. Make sure that these key stakeholders are involved in the questionnaire validation, and assign a specific owner for each of the topics included in the pulse. For instance, questions related to IT and resources need to be picked up by the IT support team, questions about PPE should be formulated by the supply chain management team, and so on.

Also, consider how to involve local managers in taking action. Line managers can support in many ways, through establishing structured daily check-ins with their team members, structuring team communications, providing encouragement and being attentive to individuals’ concerns and personal circumstances.

Now is the time to really tap into how people are feeling and to be asking them how they need to be supported.

Qualtrics Manager of EX Solutions Strategy Steve Bennetts

Step 3: Plan your pulse communications

Now is also the best time to think about how you’ll communicate about – and distribute – the pulse within your organisation. Do you have a distribution list with employees’ email addresses, or will you send a link via text? Who will the request for feedback come from? Who can you tap to help get the word out?

If you’re unsure about the answers to these questions, use our quick checklist to ensure your pulse gets in the hands of every employee:

  • Inform relevant leaders about the survey and ensure you have their buy-in from the get go. Make sure the right people understand why you’re carrying out this research and what you hope to achieve.
  • Think about the best way to share your anonymous survey link. Some popular distribution channels are:
    • Email
    • Text message
    • Company intranet
    • Printed materials
    • In-product placements
  • Draft a short and engaging message – signed by the leadership team – explaining the purpose of the pulse and why each employee’s feedback is important for your organisation.
  • Remind leaders and managers – make sure they’re encouraging their teams to participate in the survey.
  • Send a reminder communication a few days later – a nudge email after the initial invitation will help to boost participation.
  • Identify resources for employees to raise some specific concerns (e.g. links to health and benefits information, confidential helpline, etc.) and include those proactively in your pulse communications.

Tip: If you need some help getting buy-in to launch the Remote + On-Site Work Pulse, consider sharing this sample report with key stakeholders.

Tailoring your Remote + On-site Work Pulse

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for getting started with your Remote + On-site Work Pulse, you’re ready to make it your own. There are two main ways to do this. First, by tailoring the fields for collecting – and later sorting – data, such as your office locations and department names. Second, by editing the questions in the pulse to make sure the tone and content are right for your organisation. OK, let’s dig in.

Product Demo and Methodology Overview: Tailoring your Remote + On-Site Work Pulse


Step 4: Enter organisation details

Below are the details you’ll want to tailor to fit your organisation. Note that the fields you edit and customise will determine your reporting capabilities down the line.

+ List of geographic locations: Organise your data by region, country, state, street address, or any other location type that suits your company best. The goal of this question is to help you understand the experiences of employees by location.

Tip: If you’re managing a global workforce, you might want to consider translating your pulse. For guidance on how to do so, visit the translations support page.

+ Departments/teams: Create a list of departments or teams so you can easily identify and sort your data when the results come back. When customising this question, think about the level of the organisation at which it will be easiest to take action.

Step 5: Customise your questions

Once you finish entering the details of your organisation, you’ll reach the survey editor. This is where you’ll be able to edit the text of your questions.

Tip: Visit the support page for detailed guidance on how to edit questions and answer options. But note—any changes to the wording of a question, as well as the addition or deletion of a question, will affect the pre-configured report that also comes with the Remote + On-site Work Pulse solution. This means you will also need to make corresponding edits to the survey report. For details on how to edit the report, visit the support page.

Here are key things you should think about when customising the questions in the Remote + On-Site Work Pulse:

  • Match your tone: Edit the introductory message to match your organisation’s internal communications style.
  • Use your own vocabulary: Swap out terms or phrases to match what you use in your organisation. For example, change “immediate supervisor/manager” to “team lead.” Keep in mind that you’ll want to make changes to the questions your respondents will see so that they better match the response options you have provided them. To do so, simply click on the question. Remember, you can also add or delete any questions.
  • Choose your workforce type: Choose remote, on-site, or both. Make sure to rephrase the survey content to be relevant to the type of employee you’re pulsing, e.g. specific questions for remote employees or for on-site employees.
  • Customise the appearance of the pulse: Add your organisation’s logo, use your brand colour scheme, or change the background; these options can be found under the Look & Feel tab when you’re in the survey editor.
  • Keep it simple: Focus questions where you feel like you can take meaningful action. Remove any items that you can’t take action on.
  • Leverage what works: Add items to your pulse that typically drive engagement in your organisation. You can do this by looking at previous employee feedback to pick up topics that matter most to your people.
  • Link to helpful internal resources: Use your survey communications and final pages of the survey to share and link to health and wellness benefits, your EAP, IT guidance, and so on.

Maintaining the survey’s integrity

While you can customise the questions you ask in your pulse to reflect the language used in your organisation, keep in mind that our pulse questions have been designed by I/O psychologists, so try to maintain the integrity of each question as much as possible.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Edit the text in parenthesis: Swap out or remove the text in parenthesis with details specific to your organisation.

maintaining the survey

  • Add questions that have been scientifically validated: Choose from your organisation’s annual engagement survey or, if you’re a Qualtrics customer, you can import questions from the Qualtrics XM Solution item library.
  • Avoid double-barrelled questions: For example, “Communication from [your company name here] has been clear and helpful.” This pulse is meant to help you understand your employees’ needs so you can take action quickly. Double-barrelled items can cause confusion and ambivalence, impacting the score of the question and resulting in inaction.

Tip: Increasing the length of the survey may cause survey fatigue and impact your response rates and question scores. Ensure you are asking only the questions you need to ask in order to act, and not asking questions because it would be interesting to know the results.

Interpreting results from your Remote + On-site Work Pulse

The results are back from your Remote + On-site Work Pulse, but you’re not sure what to do next. Don’t worry! Here are our tips for interpreting the results from your pulse.

Step 6: Review the results

As you review the results from your Remote + On-Site Work Pulse, here are a few key items to keep in mind:

  • Stay present: During this time, everything is rapidly changing from week to week, so stay focused on what’s happening in your organisation now – not what past engagement surveys or even a prior pulse revealed.
  • Shift to sensing: Identify the real-time emerging themes, such as:
    • What needs do our employees have that aren’t being met?
    • What topics are our employees most concerned about?
    • What new obstacles are employees running into?
    • What practices are currently keeping employees enabled right now?
  • Listen, understand, then act: You’re currently at the ‘understand’ step in the process, so don’t worry about actions – yet.

Tip: Think of the results as opportunities to start new conversations with your people; conversations that address the needs they’ve expressed in the pulse.

Step 7: Customise your report

Thanks to the organisation details you entered when tailoring your report – i.e. geographic locations and department names – you’re now able to dig into your data using those filters. As you customise your report, here are some tips:

  • Look one layer down: Use filters to explore and prioritise what to bring into your report.
  • Craft your display: Use favourability scores, distributions, and other visuals to demonstrate the whole spectrum of results.
  • Prep for actions: Earmark potential actions, identify the departments they align to, as well as the leaders who can help with taking action.

“My organisation just completed an initial pulse. A number of respondents in verbatim comments noted the challenges involved in managing both work and family while teleworking and that boundary-setting seemed to be an issue for many people. These insights gave our managers some useful things to think about and to consider what kinds of updates and outreach they will continue to send out.” – AdamK12

Step 8: Share the results with key stakeholders

Once the final report is ready, you’ll want to share the results with a group of key stakeholders.

Here’s a checklist of what to cover when you share the results:

  • Gauge employee well-being first: Take a close look at how people are feeling overall. Identify if there are any major gaps between groups or areas of the organisation.
  • Review employee experience questions: Identify three to five topics with the lowest scores and/or those that seem to be the biggest pain points. Hint: You’ll likely make two lists – one with the key topics for your remote employees and another for your on-site workforce.
  • Identify root causes of the issues: Reading the open-ended comments can be useful for understanding context and identify underlying issues. For additional insights, you may also want to encourage key stakeholders to speak with employees to better understand their pain points.
  • Prioritise next steps:
    • What action is most important for your people’s well-being and safety?
    • What action is absolutely critical for business continuity?
    • How can your organisation implement these actions?

Tip: Be pragmatic and determine one or two quick actions your organisation can start to implement immediately to make a step in the right direction.

Driving action from Remote + On-site Work Pulse insights

Now that you’ve determined next steps and disseminated key findings to stakeholders, it’s time to take action on the results. Here’s how to do it.

Step 9: Build an action plan

Whether the results of your pulse are exceptional, horrible, or somewhere in-between, your team has an opportunity to make commitments to change. Through employee discussions, validate the feedback and ensure that employees see that their feedback is being listened to and, where possible, addressed. If issues cannot be actioned, acknowledge them and be open about what is – and is not – possible.

Ready to build an action plan? Here are some tips:

  • Align your actions to objectives: Ensure that your actions are aligned to the company’s overall strategy and objectives, as well as what was highlighted in the pulse’s results.
  • Commit to changes: Focus on meaningful behaviour changes, rather than emphasising scores. Create an exceptional employee experience through clear, consistent behavioural changes.
  • Track involvement and accountability: Involve all employees in developing and implementing action plans. Use transparency in communication to hold yourself and your teams accountable to taking action.

Considering the changing environment, it’s better to have an agile, iterative approach and show progress, rather than spending too much time digging into a detailed action plan which may quickly become outdated.

Step 10: Express your gratitude to employees

Prepare a message to employees that expresses your appreciation for their feedback, as well as provides a short summary of the key priorities they’ve helped identify and the next steps for action. Connecting people to the overall purpose of what they’re doing, and showing your appreciation, will go a long way to support them through such a difficult time.

There are a number of effective ways to communicate back to employees: an all-employee email, a short video from your company’s CEO, a virtual town hall meeting, or asking managers to share overall results in their regular team meetings. We recommend picking the channel you feel most comfortable with.

Tip: Know your audience. Be transparent with the pulse results, but focus on delivering different messages to employees versus leaders.

Step 11: Drive action

Every company – and every employee – faces unique challenges during this time. Depending on the results of your pulse, here are some actions you’ll want to consider taking:

  • Act on the feedback. You won’t have all of the answers, but if employees highlight barriers or gaps in support, you need to address these points so that people feel safe, supported, and productive.
  • Address the main barriers to working from home. For technology-related issues, work with your IT department to provide guidance about available resources.
  • Tailor your communications. Pivot your communications to reflect employee sentiment. Be transparent about how the feedback has been used.
  • Monitor and support employees’ physical and mental health. Ensure that regular communications remind employees of the wellness resources and benefits available to them and where these can be found.
  • Connect employees to company goals. Reiterate to employees the objectives of the company, and especially any change in priorities due to the current environment.
  • Clarify to your on-site employees when to stay at home so they know it’s okay to do so. Communicate clearly about when employees should not come to work and what their options are. Let them know it’s okay to take time off if they are feeling unwell.
  • Encourage teamwork and collaboration to promote social connection via virtual channels.

For additional resources to address your organisation’s individual needs, see our page of complimentary crisis solutions.

Get started with our complimentary Remote + On-site Work Pulse solution