Learning from Living in Lockdown – Mark Bale

By Elizabeth Gooding / Published:

As we continue our series on Profiles in Quarantine, we visit Mark Bale who covers the most super-techy topics on Inkjet Insight that use math above my pay grade. Mark is based in UK which this week announced necessary, but very restrictive measures. UK is under lockdown with residents instructed to stay indoors except for essential services and subject to fines for those who violate guidelines.

What can you tell us about this picture?

This is me with my dog Kim. She is not well pleased that our walks are now limited.

Where is home?

Wells, Somerset (UK) known for being England’s smallest city – really a town except for its Royal Charter – and for being home to one of the UK’s gothic cathedrals which I was lucky enough to get the chance to abseil down for charity last year (see photo). Just around the corner is Europe’s oldest continuously occupied street which is normally a draw for the coach tours.

Climbing down the face of a gothic cathedral in Somerset UK

How much do work from home when there’s not a pandemic?

I normally work flexibly between customer sites, our own laboratory and some working from home. Typically 20-30% at home.

Days at home since March 1?

At least double the normal number. I have made just one UK trip and otherwise been doing lab work, helped by the fact the site is quite isolated (see map).

When at home, I have been doing research on patents on Espacenet, to support blogs and training content. I have also had the chance to digest some academic papers on company strategies to support my wife Rebecca with her latest MBA module. Google scholar and ResearchGate are great tools for this. Using tools like Skype, Zoom and Webex I’ve also been keeping up with customers.

What are you doing to keep spirits up?

Trying to be more helpful around the house. With the UK in lockdown and 2 teenagers at home it is sorely needed. Also entertaining our dog, Kim (since walking is only allowed 1 time per day.) I enjoy listening to music when working too, partly to drown out everything else when needed. With all of us in one place headphones are definitely the accessory of choice! When the work is done then the playing cards are coming out as an alternative to streaming TV in an attempt to reduce screen time.

What are your favorite stories of people/companies helping others during the pandemic?

I was impressed by Durst, who closed down their production to protect their staff. In the UK too many employers are expecting people to work still. I suppose every company has their own definition of essential, which is the official reason for leaving home to work.

What are your top tips for printing companies in managing through the pandemic?

This is a tough one, and I’m sure a different case altogether here in the UK. Smaller print shops, like our local one, may be able to work and still protect employees. Larger ones can use split shifts to reduce exposure, but with public transport services intended to be only for key workers, it really depends on where the workforce live and how they can travel without breaking government guidelines.

If at home working, then catching up on some personal development is useful. If you want to understand more about inkjet then start with Inkjet Insight tech articles by yours truly! If you prefer the printed word, my go-to book recommendations on inkjet are Fundamentals of Inkjet Printing (Ed S Hoath) for theory and Handbook of Industrial Inkjet (Ed W Zapka) for a more practical view.

What do you think OEMs can/should do to help their customers?

Everyone is in the same boat. For as many as possible to remain in business there just has to be some mutual understanding of the impact to survive the crisis. It is not down to one group to take responsibility for their customers. The fact that couriers are on the essential service list here in the UK is helpful to keep getting consumables with electronics goods stored are now closed.

Thanks for sharing Mark.

I’m getting to know a lot of great things about my team that I didn’t know before. Like abseiling? Who would have guessed? I also love the fact that when I asked Mark where he lives, he included a map. He is a man of precision! It also helps to understand how different locations and governments are dealing with the crisis. Here are links to previous profiles of the team:

Amy Hahn

Mary Schilling

If you have a story to tell or recommendations to share about navigating the pandemic, please get in touch.

About the Author

Elizabeth Gooding


Elizabeth is the Editor and Co-founder of Inkjet Insight. She has a rare ability to see print related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. She works with a team of top analysts to translate experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations and grow pages profitably. She is a founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board, the co-author of an award-winning book on designing for inkjet and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to drive new pages onto inkjet presses.

Leave a Comment