Scotland’s new Covid alert system and associated restrictions may provide geographical clarity. However, it does little to ease the feeling of uncertainty both for individuals and businesses.

With no timescales on how long these tiers will be in place, business leaders are having to make yet more difficult decisions, and are continually worrying about the long-term health and economic impact that Covid has created.

Entire sectors are facing huge disruption – hospitality, tourism, leisure and, crucially, arts and culture. With the latter, not only does the culture sector in Scotland contribute £5.5 billion to the economy – or at least it did –it has been essential to many of us since the start of lockdown. Television, books, podcasts and movies have provided a much-needed escape for most of us during a time when the lives we are used to living have been so restricted – no matter your profession.

While business leaders continue to face myriad challenges, personal and employee mental health remains a concern alongside the viability of the organisation they run. A work/life balance is vital to a healthy and productive workforce, and time away from the office helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout. But for many, “the office” is now also the kitchen, living room or bedroom. It is becoming harder to physically get away from work, and so it’s more important than ever to encourage colleagues to engage in cultural pursuits – not only to benefit their mental health but also their broader wellbeing. While the arts scene has been all but closed for the time being, many in the sector have been creative with their offerings: moving book festivals online, creating virtual arts exhibits, transforming plays into street theatre, and hosting zoom master classes.

But while these provisions will provide many with light relief, in the long term, is there more the arts can do to work closer with business? And are there more ways that the sector can monetise their undoubted talents and contribution to society? The reskilling of those in the cultural sector has recently hit the headlines (sadly for the wrong reasons), but there is no doubt that business and culture could collaborate to bring mutual benefits. This is not to say that creatives should adapt their skills to fit within the construct of business, but rather that they can be used in new ways. Bafta already excels in this area, providing presentation and communication training to businesses. Scotland is home to so much talent – is it time for the arts community to share these skills with business so that we can learn from them?

Almost every individual who has worked throughout the pandemic has had to be flexible, likely taking on new roles and learning new skills while their workplace adapts to constant change. Before Covid, soft skills were often viewed as supplementary to professional skills. However, the past few months have shone a light on resilience, compassion, creativity, the ability to pivot, and be supportive. We should take this opportunity to build on these skills, and develop our understanding of other areas of business and personal development, as this will prepare us for the new landscape which lies ahead. By working with those who express themselves for a living, we might learn more and become better communicators than ever before.

While the world remains on pause, we must continue to promote a work/life balance. Encourage your employees to step away from the workplace and escape into a book, movie, art, festival, television or music – or take a class led by an actor or artist who can provide them with the transferable skills to enhance themselves. Not only will it benefit your team, but it will support Scotland’s wonderful and vital arts and culture sector too.

Malcolm Cannon is national director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland