Confidence to meet again on the rise with NSW leading the way

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.

New research by Roy Morgan on behalf of BESydney, found that when it comes to attending an event in-person post-COVID, more than half (51.6%) of the 1007 Australians interviewed 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%).

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 per cent 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%).

“It’s pleasing to see confidence increasing in NSW when it comes to getting back to business and attending events in-person,” said Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres.

“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 focused 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%).

“This research provides real-time insight into Australian sentiment as we continue to navigate through the pandemic,” BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said.

“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.

“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.

“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.”