The handshake may have been elbowed out when it comes to business greetings but Australians have shown that their comfort to meet post-COVID is on the rise
More than half of Australians are comfortable attending a business event right now and the most confident state to do so is New South Wales (NSW).
New research by Roy Morgan on behalf of BESydney, found that when it comes to attending an event in-person post-COVID, 51.6% of Australians are comfortable attending business events up to 50 people, preceded by funerals (68.9%), weddings (66.2%) and the cinema (55.1%) – and by state, those in NSW are most comfortable attending business events (48.9%).
Commissioned by global business event bidding specialists BESydney, the research saw 1007 Australians interviewed earlier this month, and provides a snapshot into the pre- and post-pandemic comfort levels attending a range of events and the aspects of business most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on preferences for in-person greetings used in Australia, even amongst close family and friends, with elbow greetings and air kisses rising and traditional close contact hugs ‘n’ kisses on the decline.
Changes have been felt in the workplace too, with the traditional handshake seeing the biggest impact (-57.6%), now the preferred greeting for just 30.4% of Australians with colleagues and new contacts. Taking its place, the elbow greeting is now the go-to greeting for 58.5% and increasing numbers are opting for a fist bump (+2.5%) or no physical greeting at all (+11.1%).
NSW leads on the COVID elbow greeting – with the highest number of people comfortably using this gesture to tap and greet (35.6%).
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, said: “It’s pleasing to see confidence increasing in NSW when it comes to getting back to business and attending events in-person. We’ve seen strong adherence to COVIDSafe guidelines here and a positive outcome as a result, and important milestones continue to be achieved as restrictions ease. Getting people and businesses back together is vital for our economy and we’re focussed on increasing this activity and bringing key events to our city and state.”
When asked about the top business aspects most negatively impacted by COVID-19, ‘networking opportunities’ was named as number one (35.9%). Training opportunities (35.7%) and teamwork (32.2%) were identified in second and third position, and communication close behind (31.8%).
BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said: “This research provides real-time insight into Australian sentiment as we continue to navigate through the pandemic. Confidence has started to turn a corner and the need and desire to come back together both personally and professionally is rising – we expect to see that come through as increased meeting bookings in the months ahead.
“Business events have a major role to play in domestic and international economic recovery bringing organisations back together with their people, their suppliers and clients and their professional communities.
“As more in-person meetings, conferences and exhibitions take place in the year ahead, people attending will be reassured by how far COVIDSafe meeting in-person at scale has come. Our industry here in Australia is among the best in the world innovating and adapting remarkably while everyone has been away – particularly in specialist business events venues like the International Convention Centre Sydney, and in major hotels and cultural venues across the city.”
Ms Lewis-Smith added: “It’s important for corporate Australia to get their people back together both from a cultural point of view and to drive business outcomes. Whilst technology has an important role to play, it’s no substitute for the impact that can be achieved when people meet in person to connect, communicate and share knowledge and ideas.”
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About the study
The survey was hosted and managed by Roy Morgan Research on behalf of BESydney. It was conducted online (WebBus) between 3-7 February 2021 and saw 1007 Australians, aged 18-64 years, interviewed. The data was weighted by age, gender and state.