Leadership Strategy

The Surprising Ways Leaders Are Relaxing During The Covid-19 Pandemic


Although the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people’s physical and mental wellbeing the world over, one outcome that’s significantly altered work-life boundaries is the reallocation of time: the displacement of commuting, cancelled vacations, and socializing – limited at best and non-existent for most – has led to an increase of disposable time for many, particularly executives. And with this extra time needed to fill, a meteoric rise in the commencement of new hobbies has endued, which have, interestingly, positively affected people’s mental health by providing comfort in this challenging and unique time. From baking to cooking, exercising to gardening, a deluge of hobbies is a welcome addition to previously bustling lives, so say 92 percent of respondents of a new research study. That’s because hobbies have physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits, which are not only important in this post-pandemic world but essential for long-term personal development – vital ingredients for executives.

As the weeks and months pass by, many of these leaders experience ranging emotions – from sadness and anger to tiredness and exhaustion. This is because when experiencing psychological stressors, such as those associated with the ‘new normal’ including quarantine, people are biologically programmed to produce a physiological response – the fight or flight mode – which exhumes enormous amounts of energy. Consequently, maintaining the human body in this high alert state – as is becoming prevalent when considering a possible second wave of Covid-19 – can significantly affect energy levels. Which further explains the rise of certain hobbies in particular – those enjoyed in solitude – away from the complexities of managing people and processes.

As we emerge into the ‘new normal,’ experts recommend leaders’ re-evaluate work-life balances, to ensure sufficient time exists these newly found hobbies to remain as permanent artefacts, given their positive impact on wellbeing.

Railway modelling, for example, tops the list of most ‘returners’ to a single hobby, and the number of ‘first-timers’ according to new research. One reason for this, is the utilization of platforms to socialize the somewhat traditional hobby and connect various generational yet likeminded people within a global community. It is for this reason, that stockists, manufacturers, and even second-hand sellers have experienced exponential growth post-lockdown, given the demand by executives turned railroaders to grow and expand their minute worlds, and share their progress online.

One particular manufacturer synonymous with modelling is Hornby. Their sales and profit margins are higher than last year and ahead of management’s expectations for the past five months, consequently raising their share price 29 percent over the past 12 months. One of the key enablers of such rapid performance shift is the decision to invest significantly in digital marketing, and a scalable central platform that supports growth – a basis for which has seen Key Publishing’s Hornby Magazine, a traditional paper medium, turn completely digital. The radical overhaul was supported by business owner turned YouTuber, Richard Watson, who achieved fame within the modelling community and beyond for his ‘New Junction’ creation. He joined the Hornby Magazine team in 2020 as Associate Editor and helped increase engagement with the digital platform to more than 250,000 views per month – an industry first that continues to grow.

Richard brought his experience of handling online media to Hornby Magazine, helping to attract new audiences through the mediums he deployed at his New Junction channel. The aim of which has been to expand Hornby Magazine’s reach and increase reader interaction, particularly crucial through the pandemic given many executives have been isolated at home, due to the significant increase of remote working, and various shielding procedures.

Like many print publications, Hornby Magazine’s paper copy has been at the mercy of shop closures. Still, through its substantial presence in grocery, it has been able to weather the storm while also experiencing unprecedented growth in direct subscriptions during this year’s lockdown. The rise of interest has not been restricted to physical modelling activities. Readers have continued to absorb themselves in the leisure and inspiration that a model railway magazine offers, which according to research, helps executives to escape from the uncertainties and complexities of the modern world.

A new diversion with the continuation of public restrictions is the rise of the virtual event for model railways. October 9-11 would have seen the Hornby Magazine team setting up for its annual Great Electric Train Show event in the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. Still, with public gatherings out of the question, Richard and the team created an online event through the magazine’s YouTube channel and growing new web presence to deliver the Great Electric Train Show online. That sea change in approach comes with months of planning, dedication to the cause, and creative thinking to generate a line up of online media that captures the spirit of an exhibition while pushing the boundaries of what can be done online. Topping the billing is a feature-length YouTube show, premiering at 8pm on October 9 to herald the start of the virtual event, to be attended by executives the world over.

So, if you haven’t already begun your railroad adventure, what’s stopping you?



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