The coronavirus outbreak and associated shelter-in-place orders upended lives in unprecedented ways. As the country begins to reopen, a return to normal could be expected. However, a new survey on behalf of the University of Phoenix conducted by The Harris Poll, found that COVID-19 has significantly altered U.S. adults’ behaviors to the point that many may never return to life before the pandemic.

The survey found that 86 percent of U.S. adults are concerned about the lasting impact the pandemic will have on their everyday lives, according to a news release. More than three in four U.S. adults (76 percent) said that the pandemic has caused them to shift their priorities. And, the majority (73 percent) said they’d like to continue doing activities they’ve increased doing as a result of the pandemic once life is back to normal.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been one of the single most disruptive occurrences in the last decade and we could see ripple effects in how we interact, live our lives and view society for years to come ― if not indefinitely,” said Dr. Dean AsliniaUniversity of Phoenix counseling program chair in the news release. “A shift in behaviors is almost always expected when people endure a substantial change in lifestyle like we experienced, but the survey findings illustrate that lives were impacted in unparalleled ways.”

Changes in Behaviors

Despite being eager to return to life the way it was before, the overwhelming majority (86 percent) said even after social distancing guidelines are relaxed, they will be cautious. When reentering society, many will continue to follow safety procedures relating to personal health and social distancing implemented by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) during the pandemic.

When considering personal health, half said that they will wear a mask and 28 percent will wear gloves at least most of the time in public. Six in 10 (61 percent) will clean/disinfect items they touch at least most of the time, and 62 percent will keep a six-foot distant between themselves and others at least most of the time.

Many expect to continue social distancing best practices even after the pandemic subsides. More than half will be less likely to attend a large gathering (53 percent) or travel internationally (52 percent) or domestically (37 percent) compared to before the pandemic began. Some have even gone as far as saying they would never participate in higher-risk activities like using public transportation (45 percent), hosting an event at their home (25 percent), or eating at a sit-down restaurant (10 percent).

Changes at Work

Perceptions of work once social distancing guidelines are relaxed elicited mixed feelings from both employed and unemployed U.S. adults, the news release added. For employed adults, more than two in five (43 percent) workers said that the pandemic has caused them to reevaluate what they currently do for work. They would look for a workplace where they can work remotely (51 percent) or a job that is less public-facing (34 percent).

For those who are not employed, 25 percent said it has caused them to reevaluate what they would want to do for work. In a new opportunity, they would look for a workplace where they can work remotely (41 percent), a job that is less public-facing (34 percent), an industry that is more stable or to be their boss (both 29 percent).

Changes in Parenting

Although parents feel lucky to have had this extra time with their children, those with minors have been parenting differently during the pandemic. About half are allowing their children to wake up later (51 percent) or go to bed later (46 percent), and a similar proportion is allowing their children to have more screen time (49 percent). Many encouraged their children to practice good hygiene (63 percent), appreciate what they have (54 percent), and learn something new (52 percent), the news release added.

Despite loosening the reins slightly, many will instill new boundaries after the pandemic subsides. Parents said once social distancing guidelines are relaxed, a majority would still not be comfortable allowing their children to visit places such as attending a large gathering (66 percent), going to a theme park, zoo, mall, etc. (58 percent), attending a birthday party (57 percent), or playing on a playground (53 percent). They were also uneasy with their children engaging in many social activities, like hugging their friends (60 percent), going on a playdate (53 percent), attending school/daycare in-person (53 percent) or playing sports (45 percent).

“These survey results are not surprising as parents are feeling the added stress of keeping their children safe and secure during these uncertain times,” Aslinia said in the news release. “Parents should make decisions based on what they feel is best for their family and not feel rushed to resume activities. Life has upended for all of us and it will take time and patience before we can fully adjust to this new world.”

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix from May 12-14, 2020 among 2,067 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Melany Stroupe.

Source: University of Phoenix