Revealing new survey shows behaviour changes are here to stay – even as Australians look forward to getting back to work

Welcoming someone with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek appears to be a thing of the past, according to the results of a new survey of more than 2,000 Australians commissioned by leading Out of Home business oOh!media.

The research reveals that Australians have no intention of going back to their old ways, with a large majority (64 per cent) saying they were likely to continue social distancing when restrictions are relaxed. A massive 86 per cent also indicated that they would maintain heightened personal hygiene levels, according to the first edition of the recurring survey*.

The commitment to changing habits and behaviours correlates with the findings around Australians’ concerns of a second COVID-19 outbreak, with almost half of respondents (48 per cent) fearing a second wave once social restrictions were eased, while four-in-10 feared a sharpening of the curve with the arrival of winter. Less than one-in-10 said they were not concerned about a further outbreak.

The comprehensive survey, the first of a series to be undertaken over the next two months, also revealed:

  • Appreciation of healthcare workers increased for 72 per cent of respondents, appreciation of schoolteachers increased for 51 per cent, supermarkets increased for 54 per cent, and local community increased for 45 per cent;
  • 77 per cent agreed they were more appreciative of the outdoors and outdoor destinations compared to before the pandemic struck, while 79 per cent agreed they’d be generally happier to be out and about;
  • 69 per cent agreed they would be more appreciative of ‘mundane’ activities that allowed them to be out and about, such as the daily commute to work;
  • Three-in-five (57 per cent) were keen to return to the office;
  • Just under half (44 per cent) intend to do more shopping in bricks and mortar stores, compared to 19 per cent who plan more online shopping;
  • Pandemic panic buying appears to have passed, with just 36 per cent saying they’d be more likely to store more non-perishable food items in the pantry, and only 43 per cent saying they would be likely to store more hygiene items;
  • Trust in the cruise industry dropped for 59 per cent of respondents and only increasing for six per cent; and,
  • Confidence in the Federal Government increased among 44 per cent of respondents and only declined for 13 per cent. However, among those aged 16-24 the confidence levels had only risen for 26 per cent.

oOh!media CEO Brendon Cook said the results demonstrated that while people wanted to get out more, they would amend their behaviour amid fears of a second outbreak.

“Millions of people have been cooped up for some time now and are eager to get going and take steps back towards normality,” he said.

“It’s clear that the public at large are more appreciative of being outdoors than previously and have realised what they’ve missed out on through this period of necessary restrictions.

“However, we remain concerned about public health and our own safety, and will enjoy getting back to being out and about with some ‘new normal’ behaviours.

“This new normal includes being the right distance from people, looking after ourselves more, and watching out for the slightest hint of a second wave, which is probably the biggest concern underlying all this.

“We expect this data will be very useful to businesses who are currently working out their future plans and considering how to reach people when restrictions ease.”

*The national survey was conducted by research agency Dynata from 1-4 May 2020, and was designed to reflect the geographic and age distribution of the country as a whole. It will be repeated every two weeks for the next two months, in order to provide ongoing insights into public attitudes in the current conditions. 

Download the full media release.