Since March 2020, Chinese Big Tech employees have been coming back to the office with the risk of being exposed to covid.

People in China are becoming less vigilant to COVID.

The Mask Use Rate dropped from over 72% (May 2020) to 59% (Oct 2020).

More than 90% of Chinese Big Tech companies were back to on-site working in March 2020.

Design Question

How can we encourage Chinese Big Tech employees to stay safe while working in the office?


How did we arrive at the approach?

Field Research
What in their daily routine is risky?

Thus, we take observations in selected places: 

  • elevator rooms

  • meeting rooms

  • cafeterias in office buildings. 

We assumed these places covered employees’ routines and where in-person communication happens. 

What prevent users from wearing masks?

We received 108 responses, and the valid number is 97 after filtering. 58 respondents consisted of our connections and their colleagues, the other 50 people were recruited from an online recruitment service.

Research Synthesis
Uncover the reasons ...

However,  the scope is too big ...

By mapping those problems and the possible corresponing design goals into the impact-difficulty matrix, we were able to define our two highly prioritized problems ( which falls in the green area): forget to re-wear, and  being affected by group environment

Refined Design Question

How can we remind and encourage Big Tech employees to wear masks and wash hands?

User Personas
Empathize with our users
Scenarios & Tasks
Identify pain points in user scenarios
To get a little closer to the real use case, we come up with the following scenarios:

From knowledge to ideas

Based on the identified painpoints in the user scenarios and the three elements in the Fogg Behavior Model, we brainstormed three points and combine them as a system to make employees take actions.

Align features with user stories

Prototype 1.0 & Usability Testing
Learn from our users ...

For rapid testing, we first created 4 high-fidelity user interfaces on Modao and a website detecting whether the user is wearing a mask to simulate the process that users use face-mask ID for payment.

  • Task 1. The meeting reminder.

  • Task 2. The lunch reminder.

  • Task 3. Face-mask recognition module on the cashier.

  • Task 4. The check-out reminder.

  • Task 5. The summary and reward system.

Check the usability test report here.

Design Implications
From problems to solutions
Usability Problem #1

Users are used to ignoring notifications

Usability Problem #2

Unattractive reward points and incentives

Usability Problem #3

Unclear system status in Face-Mask identification process

Explore different layouts and user flow
Design Implication#1

Introduce social rewards, gamification, and intrinsic rewards

Visualize points earned for good behaviors


Form a habit with daily tasks


Group ranking & top 3 contributors
In-group ranking & “like” from colleagues


 Encourage habits forming with progress of accomplishments


Design Implication#2

Clear system status and points in Face Mask Identification Process

Clear system status for every step


Clear expectations for users on what users can get for Face-Mask ID Payment


Provide positive feedbacks & show total points on the phone


Final Design
Systematic solution for office building



What we can improve

I think I should have interviewed without target end-users like the employees coming here to have lunch. Sometimes we could not get enough findings just by observation.

And due to the restrictions of the environment, I could not observe the whole daily routine of an employee, interviews with our end uses may help us know more beyond our observation.


Don't rush to solution

At the same time, each opinion should be given respect and encouragement, and avoid prematurely starting to discuss feasibility and negating ideas. Even if such ideas are indeed immature, bad ideas may stimulate good ideas and innovation.


Affect user in an invisible way

If the identification process requires the upper half of the face of the employee and the information on the mask, then the employee can be implicitly required to wear a mask to go to work. And by replacing staff cards with face-mask recognition, contactless employee identity verification can be achieved by scanning the employee's customized mask.


More focused user group

We should have limited the recipients of our survey to a small scale working in similar environments and have similar regulations of using the public facilities in their office. To be more specific, we should have focused on a small group of users, identified core users, and obtained their needs, instead of everyone. Because everyone is facing totally different problems related to or caused by their environment. It is very difficult for a solution to solve all the issues in a problem space for everyone.


Jump out of your inherent thinking 

When doing ideation, jump out of your inherent thinking and think outside the problem area. When we want to develop people’s habit of wearing masks, we usually only think of encouraging them to wear masks or penalizing them by detecting the behavior of not wearing masks.

Later, when I was trying to expand the scope to include the contactless process design, I was suddenly inspired by the frequent staff card swiping behaviors.