The handshake lives on: Physical greetings survive the pandemic

The handshake lives on: Physical greetings survive the pandemic
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When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, fist bumps and elbow taps soon became replacements for handshakes and greeting kisses at work, resulting in predictions that these salutations would become a thing of the past. In fact, both are back in fashion.

The health crisis saw people quickly limit close contacts, particularly at work (one company even banned handshakes). However, the handshake is making a comeback as an inalienable part of workplace etiquette, a survey by HR-services group Liantis has found.

"The Covid-proof fist felt very artificial compared to a handshake. Certainly, in a business context, the symbolic value of a handshake should not be underestimated," Marianne van der Wielen, entrepreneurial coach at Liantis, said.

Just one in eight people are still opposed to shaking other people's hands when in the office, the survey among 1,061 entrepreneurs showed. "It seals, as it were, the agreements made and therefore remains an important gesture among entrepreneurs," Wielen explains.

While the survey showed that the death of the handshake is not confirmed, it also highlighted that fist bumps could be here to stay, despite the comfortable situations that can arise when a fist is met with an outstretched hand.

Kissing here to stay

If any form of greeting was doomed during and following the pandemic, it was the greeting kiss. But this too is seeing a renaissance, the survey showed.

Around four in ten employers still think that a kiss of greeting in the office should be allowed. According to van der Wielen, this is especially the case in SMEs, where there is often a more familial atmosphere.

"There are also cultural differences in Belgium. A kiss of greeting in a professional context is more common among French-speaking than Flemish people."

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Belgian employees also picked up new habits as a result of the health crisis: 54% of employers indicate that their employees pay much more attention to hygiene and cleanliness, while most employers themselves still adhere to a number of Covid-19 measures.

"It is only to be welcomed that we are combining our greeting habits with the lessons learned from the pandemic. Yes, you can greet each other again, but only in a way that both parties see fit. And certainly not if you have a sniffling cold," said van der Wielen.

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