We could all learn from Grayson
Mark Davies is managing director of Link Mortgage Services
Do you remember the phrase, ‘I’m having a good lockdown?’
Perhaps you didn’t hear it, but it was not that uncommon six months ago.
Indeed, one incredulous, old style chief executive even said to me, ‘if I have to do another Zoom call with one of my executive team in their garden with a G&T, I will be one less in the boardroom.’
We were all in the same storm if in very different boats such was the novelty of working from home for some.
It’s different now. The truth is lockdown has not been like that at all for the vast majority of people – many of whom work for and with people like me, and who are fortunate in ways others are not.
But mental health is relative to the individual, and I have noticed that a pervasive unease has seeped into the consciousness of previously resolute, more fortunate individuals at face value – affecting morale, enthusiasm and joie de vivre.
The COVID-19 experience is much akin to a kind of mental siege warfare.
We have been brought up expecting certainty in life, that has as rhythm we recognise and manage – it has been the great triumph of recent times that we have mastered the fragility of life.
We have answers to all our questions, accountability for all our issues.
It turns out we do not have as many answers or as much accountability as we thought.
From COVID-19 to climate change, the challenges are huge, divisive and for many people daunting.
In addition to that, we live in an age where any mad theory, divisive view is given airtime and the freedom of reach on the social media platforms many of us use to stay in touch during lockdown.
These platforms themselves are wrestling with their broader role, which has been brought into focus by recent political events, but has been under scrutiny for some time.
We have a duty as employers to look after our people as best we can (or are allowed to) during these times.
While being ready to offer support is important, I am also firmly of the belief that part of that package of support is creating space for people to do something other than work in the day.
Many of the people I know are kept sane by creative or other endeavours that allow them to achieve something (or indeed nothing) on their own terms in their own time.
Grayson Perry said in his last series of art club that, ‘the person that gets the most out of the creative experience is the artist themselves.’
This is true and is applies to any endeavour where you make something – be it a sculpture, a piece of writing, a cake or a refashioned piece of furniture.
Doing something like this is very good for our health and not something we offer in service industries. I’m not sure I ever looked at a mortgage agreement with pride.
Services are about people and, when we are forced to be remote from one another, we should encourage other endeavours that help us stay sane.
We offer a lot of support for employees but we all need to understand that affording them time to do as they please, to trust them and to allow them to achieve other things, is equally important. Everyone needs something else.