Let’s get back to business!

Despite the fact that all around us there are still reminders of the pandemic – from stories and statistics on the news, to masks – there is now a real sense of normality returning for many people. There are a variety of reasons for this, from the furlough scheme ending and summer holidays finishing, to children returning to school and students back to college and university. Other factors too, such as international travel being permitted, have led to people who haven’t been able to carry out their jobs as they would, getting back to normal – or being able to head abroad on holiday, or to visit relatives. There does seem to finally be a very real sense of ‘back to work and business as usual’.

Stop, start

The end of summer holidays seems to be a significant factor in normality returning. For many, last year was a tough year – whether business-wise, financially, mentally or socially. Many people found themselves spending 2020 firefighting to stay afloat and not taking holidays. This is true both of people trying to run their own businesses and employees who have been adapting to very different working methods than they were used to. The year – and the beginning of 2021 – felt very stop-start. We weren’t allowed to take holidays, then we were. We could meet friends and go out for a meal, then we couldn’t. We were back in the office, then we were in lockdown again. It disrupted many peoples’ routines and so many of us are creatures of habit. Re-establishing a sense of normality has not been that easy for many – be it in their working, social or day-to-day lives.

A mental reset

The lack of holidays has had a major impact on mental wellbeing and the successive lockdowns took their toll on many people. Being able to get out and about again, be it just to shop or to meet people socially, has started to make all the difference to peoples’ wellbeing. The clean break of a holiday ‘away from it all’ has provided a mental reset for many, and given them the impetus to go back to the office, as and when it is required. There’s nothing like a change of scene for helping people to be able to relax and for those of use lucky enough to, actually going on holiday has finally brought a sense of closure to an 18-month period that has been like no other.

Offices are beginning to open again and in many cases, managers are expecting staff to start being present on site. Work from home worked very well during the lockdown for some people, but for others it was detrimental to both their work and their health. The separation of work and home is often seen as beneficial, while the flipside is that ‘work from home’ has provided opportunities and all kinds of savings that have been welcomed. But companies can’t retain ‘fright-mode’ and it’s refreshing to see the business landscape moving forward once again in a more recognisable fashion. People are now making decisions in the same way as they would have pre-pandemic – with looking forward to the future and planning back on the agenda.

Busyness is back

Most staff are hoping to operate a hybrid model of working, whereby they are in the office some of the time and work from home too. However, some companies are going straight back into ‘work from office’ mode again, and expect staff to be present all the time, as they were before the pandemic. This hasn’t suited everyone, but some companies are being strict on this. It should be about what works for both parties – and discussions should be initiated to iron out any disagreements over what is best and most beneficial for everyone.

Having had a holiday and with the children back in school, people are feeling reinvigorated once more. The autumn is often a time of renewed activity, even in normal times. But this year seems even more hectic for many, as everyone gets back to busyness.