Are you dreading the end of summer?

Has the summer hiatus – if there has been one – been enough to recharge you for the months ahead?

Tired women at work


Are you ready for the September to December onslaught or are you just surrendering yourself to whatever comes next? Do you feel refreshed and recharged after the summer or that a few days off is not nearly enough to regather your forces?

As schools prepare to start up again [except in Scotland where they are already back], for many parents there are mixed emotions. It’s the end of the summer, although it has felt more like autumn for weeks. Any sense of lull because half the workforce is away at any given time has evaporated. While there’s no more having to plan childcare or things to do over the holidays, there is the whole back to school show to organise – uniforms, Covid tests [if they are registered], school equipment/bags, getting them into any kind of normal routine, preparing them mentally if they are feeling anxious etc, etc.

While for some the thought of ‘back to normal’ – whatever normal will be in late 2021 – is something to look forward to, for many it prompts feelings of dread. Those working in the public sector are back to interpreting the latest guidance and anticipating rising infections, despite the undoubted bonus of widespread vaccination. Everywhere there are backlogs and urgent issues to attend to – the aftermath of Covid, although it still hasn’t yet run its course, will be long-lasting. Winter is approaching and that means more pressure on the NHS; teachers have to tackle all the various social, mental and learning challenges that the pandemic has exacerbated; social workers have to address the ongoing care crisis and skills shortage, which a combination of Covid and Brexit have worsened.

Generally, issues about vaccine passports, safety policies, how mass hybrid working works in practice and so forth will start to unfold. There will be pressure to make up for lost ground, to reset, to address recruitment issues, logistics challenges and the like. While political types debate about whether skills shortages are a good or bad thing, often in very simplistic terms which are more about proving their theories right rather than understanding the complex picture on the ground, pressures pile up.

Furlough will be ending as will other Covid-related support. Energy bills are rising, food bills are increasing [as are shortages] and winter is coming. There are many fights to be fought.

Just thinking about it all is exhausting, but there is no going back, no pause button. Many will have been counting the days until the summer holidays, hoping that some time off and some time to just be would help. They may now be feeling that one or two weeks off in the drizzle is inadequate to the task.

How will this play out in the workforce? Change takes time, even if crises can speed things up, but will there be time to rethink how we move forward in something approaching a sustainable manner before the next crisis hits?

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