Opinion | Languishing is the Middle Child of Mental Health

Zoom meetings, covid fatigue

We caught up with Lizzi Whaley, CEO of Spaceworks to hear her thoughts on lockdown.

I have noticed that the quality of presence on screen for some (not all) has changed. Last year I was diligent; I got up, had my shower, got dressed and ran the day as I would from the office but just sat in a home space. Now I'm turning up, fresh from a workout or feeding time at the zoo (my teenage kids). I've not worn any make-up this lockdown.

I have team members with kids flying around in their background. I was even in a client meeting last week where a client swore at his kids. And the other four people on the call didn't bat an eyelid. Whilst we have been lucky, our last level 4 was over a year ago. We have not had to endure what the rest of the world did. However quickly we have slipped into, this is what we do, this is normal, and really who cares if a child or animal is there on the screen.

I maintain that working from home has its benefits, and a well-established space to do this provides a delineation between work and home. But this is under ideal circumstances where we are creating a hybrid model of working from home and working in the office.

We go to the office for collaboration + connection + community. And working from home provides a contrast allowing for focus and intense bursts of productivity. But this model is washed away when we don't have balance—forced to cohabit under restrictive rules. Never have I had more appreciation for how much value social connection has. Interestingly enough, it's not just a social connection with my nearest and dearest – its everyone, my barista, the courier guy who loves seeing my dog in the office, my team walking down K Road.

There is safety in a place of inertia. It suggests that it will just keep going till there is a significant reason to change. As noted in the NY times article, languishing is the middle child of mental health, the forgotten ones, you're not bad, but you're also not great. I'm there; I get that.

As for setting up a home office, I'm all for it. But in lockdown, I think it's more about getting through and then getting back to a hybrid model.

Author: Lizzi Whaley, CEO, Spaceworks