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Most people would be happy to never shake your hand again

A new Harris Poll conducted exclusively for Fast Company shows many Americans are not yearning to return to the world exactly as it was pre-pandemic.

Most people would be happy to never shake your hand again
[Photos: Visu/Unsplash and Procreate/iStock]
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As we near the end of 2020, many Americans cannot wait to turn the page on this year and most of what came with it—a pandemic, forced isolation, economic hardship, racial injustice, and a presidential election circus.

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But despite a yearning for the normalcy of pre-pandemic times, there were some changes wrought by the coronavirus era that Americans would like to preserve. Among those? Fewer handshakes, less business travel, and more masks.

That’s according to a December Harris Poll conducted exclusively for Fast Company. During the survey, 1,015 participants were asked which COVID trends they hope will continue after the pandemic subsides. Here’s what they said:

Wave goodbye to handshakes: 30% of respondents said they’d like to shake hands with other people less often than before the pandemic, and 26% said they wouldn’t want to do it at all. Overall, 54% agreed with the statement, “I would be happy to never shake someone’s hand again” and 54% said they would only do so if required in a formal or professional setting, leaving plenty of room for the socially distant elbow bump to grow.

Business travelers want to stay grounded: A total 40% of respondents said they want to resume business travel less often, or never again after the pandemic. Overall, 51% said they would probably travel only “a few times a year” for business. Airlines may have to irrigate their revenue streams.

People want to go back to the office, just not all the time: 43% of respondents said they’d like to be back in office in the same amount that they were before the pandemic, and 25% said they’d actually like to be in office more often than pre-pandemic, a likely snapback from quarantine cabin fever. However, a total 66% agreed that they would prefer “a mix of in-office and remote work” after the pandemic.

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Digital doctors are gaining patients: A total 63% of respondents said they’d continue using telemedicine after the pandemic, with 25% saying they’d use it the same amount and 23% using it more often.

Outdoor dining and curbside pickup will weather the seasons: 27% and 26% of people said they’d do these more often, respectively, and 36% and 32% said they’d keep doing them in the same amount.

Zoom won’t lose too much steam: 20% said they would like to attend more video get-togethers with family and friends even after the pandemic, and 26% said they’d keep doing them in the same amount. However, unsurprisingly, people seemed to prefer video for meetings with coworkers more than socializing, with 61% saying they enjoyed videoconferencing for work purposes and 53% saying they enjoyed it for virtual visits with family.

Masks will stick around for a while: 39% of people said they’d wear a mask in public more often than before the pandemic, and another 27% said they’d wear one in the same amount. Overall, 82% said they would continue wearing masks after the pandemic if required by law, and 80% said they would if recommended by public safety guidelines.

Overall, younger Americans and people of color said they’d be more likely to continue COVID-era trends: As communities of color were among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, a larger share of African Americans and Hispanic Americans said they’d wear a mask more often after the pandemic, with 61% and 59% respectively, compared to 31% of white Americans. And younger Americans were more likely to take up new practices than older Americans, with 73% of those aged 18-34 likely to wear a mask more often compared to 54% of those 55-64. They were also more likely to continue using curbside pickup and videoconferencing than their older counterparts.