Whilst the fenestration sector is busy pumping out record numbers of windows and doors every week, straining every sinew to keep every happy and supplied, we need to remember that they are indeed only windows.

We’re working enormous hours, taking on huge workloads and stress levels, but we must not sacrifice the most important thing in the pursuit of success: our body and mind.

Health over windows

I don’t think many of us have worked through a period like this for a very long time, perhaps ever. I know I haven’t. Working seven days a week, long hours into the night every night. Up early every morning just to repeat the same patterns and routines, battling the various stresses and problems in the supply chain. We’re all doing roaring business across the board, but we’re killing ourselves doing it.

That is where a line needs to be drawn. I see over on Linkedin a huge deal of boasting and showing off about the number of hours worked per day and per week. Getting up when there is no oxygen in the air and going to bed for all of a couple of hours. It’s toxic. It’s glorifying horrific work patterns and the damage it is doing to the body and mind. I have tried to stay away from browsing Linkedin for that reason. “Grind culture” is setting in all over the place and it’s not a good thing.

Mental Health in windows

“Grind culture” is a phrase I heard from the world of YouTube and social media. Many of the successful personalities on those platforms are successful business people. But they also happen to have an endless number of businesses and side hustles that takes up almost all of their spare time, leaving little else for R&R. The videos and social media posts glamorise their work-life and portray working all hours of every single day. More often than not, they end up having mental health breakdowns and illness and end up having to take time away from their business and projects. It is happening more and more to social media and YouTube stars, and just this week I noticed it happen to someone from the fenestration sector.

Whether we realise it or not, we have slipped into that culture in fenestration at the moment. Working all hours, sacrificing body and mind to maximise return on sales and boost our businesses as much as possible. There is only so much hay to be made when the sun is shining before the stress and workload take their toll and we snap. I speak to a lot of people in this sector, and I am genuinely worried about the effect this intense demand is having on us all. Remember, they are only windows.

That is what we have to tell ourselves at the end of each day, and at the end of each week. These are windows and doors. They’re not life or death. Yes, there will be stressful situations, customers might become agitated on the other end of the phone, suppliers might let you down. But much of this is out of our control, and there are no gains to be made personally by sacrificing our most valuable assets: our health.

Mental health awareness and support

One thing that I am starting to see a bit more is recognition from some of our larger companies of the importance of mental health, especially at this moment of intense pressure that we’re all under.

Whilst the world of windows is buzzing and very frantic, we need businesses in this sector to step up and look after each and every member of staff from the bottom rung to the very top and everyone in between. Companies work better when staff are happy, feel settled and calm and suffer as little stress as possible. My biggest worry at the moment is that someone in our sector, under extreme pressure and stress, does something terrible and feels unable to reach out for help. This is certainly not worth the financial success if that is the case.

We have to be kind and understanding to each other at the moment. Understand that everyone is in the same boat right now. Everyone is running at 110%, tired, exhausted and having to let people down in some capacity where they wouldn’t be normally. Understand that the person at the other end of the phone or email is probably doing their best but can’t get round to everyone quickly enough. We need to help each other where we can. Find solutions to solve problems quickly. Keep the tone calm and measured.

Personally, do I think the extra financial reward is equivalent to the stress and strain being put upon us by current demands? No. I think many wouldn’t mind taking it back a gear if it meant being able to catch up, get back on top of the workload and gain a little more free time to spend with loved ones. As is it, the situation looks like we’re going to have this level of demand or higher maybe until Easter of next year, which means the best part of another year at very high levels. So we should also be thankful that we’re in an industry that is at the very opposite of other sectors that have been battered by the pandemic in the past year and a half, such as hospitality, hotels, travel, arts, music etc.

So, remember, they’re only windows. What will be will be. Look after yourself, your family and friends above all else.

For advice on mental health, or if you’re worried about someone: https://www.mind.org.uk/

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