How and when to conduct office surveys

How and when to conduct office surveys

Effective and accurate decision making is a key trait of a valuable employee, but often making the most popular decision in an office environment can be a real challenge. One way to speed up routine decision making is through the use of surveys. Surveys can be a powerful yet simple tool to collect information and/or identify trends around the office.

Although some larger companies maintain contracts with professional survey administrators, using these services can be tedious and time consuming for everyday decisions. In situations where the survey is intended to gather data from large numbers of external respondents, these professional surveys can provide excellent data analysis and insight. However, smaller in-office surveys can easily be created and circulated within an hour using a variety of free software.

When to use an office survey

Surveys are a flexible tool that can easily be applied across many situations such as:

  • Identifying dates for an upcoming company event
  • Monitoring usage of common office items
  • Selecting a favorite brand of coffee or creamer to stock in the breakroom
  • Gathering feedback on recent changes or events
  • Simply engaging coworkers on any common office decision

How to create a survey

Let’s pretend you are an office manager trying to find out what type of snacks should be stocked in the office breakroom. Follow the below steps to easily create a survey to poll the office:

  1. Select your favorite free survey software

    Any of the following platforms offer free and/or paid survey creation with various features such as: pre-made templates, social media connectivity, data exporting, anonymous responses, and image and logo capability. An easy to use survey site is Google Forms due to its simplicity and free access to multiple survey branches depending on responses received (aka skip-logic).

    Skip-logic is a survey feature that determines which questions a respondent will see next based on their answers to the previous questions. This can be especially helpful for surveys which include questions that are only applicable to a subset of the total survey pool. This allows a respondent to only answer questions which pertain to them. Although other free sites such as Survey Monkey offer more detailed cosmetic options, Google Forms is one of the only free platforms to offer skip-logic.

    • SurveyMonkey
      • Free version includes up to 10 questions, 100 responses, and 15 question formats
      • Plenty of free, pre-made templates for various scenarios
    • Google Forms
      • Very popular, simple survey creator
      • Basic color schemes, no pre-made templates
      • Includes skip-logic questions, custom images and logos, and more all for free!
      • Robust data exporting capability through Google Sheets
    • Zoho Survey
      • Free version includes up to 10 questions per survey and 100 responses.
      • Includes 200 pre-made survey templates
    • SurveyPlanet
      • Free version includes unlimited questions and responses
      • Pre-made, generic templates
      • Basic data reporting capability
      • Surveys in 20 languages!
  2. Identify your target audience

    Ask yourself questions such as:

    • Who is this survey intended for? Officemates
    • How many responses are needed? 25-30
    • How will you distribute the survey? via email
    • Will this be shared on social media? No
  3. Lay out a survey outline (optional)

    If your survey will have more than a few questions, it may be helpful to write a basic outline on scratch paper to create a logical flow to the survey. An outline is especially helpful when creating a survey with multiple branches or paths. If a survey is not intuitive, you may end up receiving fewer responses.

  4. For example, if a respondent answered “No” to “Do you drink coffee in the breakroom?”, they should not see a follow up question such as, “What flavor creamer do you prefer in your coffee?”
  5. Build the survey

    Using your platform of choice, select an appropriate theme and title. The title and description for your survey might read, “Breakroom Favorites: This survey is intended to gather feedback from the office regarding favorite snacks and treats for the breakroom. Let your voice be heard!”

    Next, begin writing your questions; the first question could be a multiple choice to select a path within the survey:

    1. Do you prefer healthier options or treats in the breakroom?

    A. Treats

    B. Healthier Options

    C. Both!

    Suppose your respondent selects “B. Healthier Options”; if you have used skip-logic correctly the survey should eliminate questions about treats and automatically display follow up questions which focus on healthy foods. Google forms (and most other platforms) offer a variety of question types, so a follow up question could be created using a checkbox-format question such as:

    2a. Place a check mark next to your favorite healthier options below:

    A. Protein/granola bars

    B. Fresh fruit

    C. Popcorn

    D. Trail mix

    E. Dried jerky

    F. Crackers

    Additional survey questions will depend on the answer to the first question but may include:

    • Brands of granola bars (Clif, Quaker, Kind, Quest, etc.)
    • Favorite candy types (Given the variety of candies available, it may be wise to include a blank write-in option along with generic options such as mints and chocolates.)
    • Dietary restrictions (Kosher, vegan, all-natural, sugar-free etc.)
    • Frozen meals vs. grab-and-go snacks

    The end of the survey should include a closing message thanking the respondent for their time and mentioning that all responses will be ranked to find the office favorites. This is a powerful way of generating buy-in on common decisions and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.

A word of warning when creating surveys for the office

Although the example used in this article is fairly simple, surveys provide a targeted means of gathering answers on a variety of decisions, even complex ones. However, it’s easy to go overboard with surveys. If a survey takes longer than 5-10 minutes to complete, consider trimming down non-essential questions to avoid losing interest from respondents.

Don’t forget: Once you’ve created your first survey, it becomes much easier the second and third time around, but answering surveys can become tiresome if sent out too often.


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