Up here in Sweden, we are done with summer holidays now. We tend to stay way ahead of the game, remember? Swedish kids, for instance, can enjoy their Santa gifts on Christmas Eve already. The famous Midsummer bacchanalias take place just as summer is kicking off, not in the middle of the hot season as the name would have you believe. And the official vacation period, aka “industrial holidays”, stretches over (at least) four luxurious weeks in July, not August as most other countries’ traditions prescribe.
So, while the rest of Europe is clogging the continent’s autobahns en route to parasol-studded Mediterranean beaches or opting for complete inaction in honour of Lazy Day (celebrated traditionally on August 10th, by the way), Swedish workers of different coloured collars are dutifully returning to their posts this week.
In a way, though, it is the right week to come back to work. Not only because the weather happened to cool off just in time, aided by some appropriately heavy showers. No, I am, of course, referring to the famous IPCC report that hit the news on Monday morning this week. I did warn you it was going to be a big deal, didn’t I? The report itself might be a bit too detail-oriented for most of us to peruse, but the key takeaways have already gone viral, as expected. The message is loud and clear. “There are no maybes anymore”, human-induced climate change is happening, and accelerating, in every corner of the planet.
It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. And by that, I don’t mean just back to business as usual. Politicians, for one, need to step up their game and quit procrastinating and drowning entrepreneurs in red tape. We need a clear strategy and solutions that make sense, and a difference, not just slogans and symbolic gestures. Business leaders need to show that they mean business. Investors should be ready to act and nudge (or kick) the hesitant ones the right way.
There is so much to do! Granted, the first days after the holidays are often overwhelming. Looking at the deluge of emails in the inbox alone can be utterly demoralising. Don’t let them get to you, though, and suffocate your newly earned energy. Pick up the momentum and ride on it instead. Come on, Nordics, show your famous Lutheran work ethic and get down to it. It is perfectly alright to stay ahead of this particular game.
Welcome back to work!
 In the early 20th century, the Swedish trade unions negotiated with many of the country’s industrial companies to agree on a specific period when factories would shut down. This was the “industrisemester”, literally “industry holiday”, a three- to four-week period in July when factories and other workplaces would halt production entirely, giving employees a break. Today, even if offices don’t shut down completely over summer, this is still the time of year that most employees will take their break, and an employer cannot refuse workers the chance to take four consecutive weeks off.