Managing Your Business Better In A Post-COVID World

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Post-Covid|Managing Your Business Better In A Post-COVID WorldThe battle with COVID-19 is far from over. There is a long way to go before the world can confidently say that it has a handle on the virus and that life can return to normal. However, many businesses are cautiously looking towards the future, and how they can adapt the way that they work in light of the pandemic, and the changes that we may have to make in the future.

The way we work has changed completely. While most companies were already moving towards being digital, this has accelerated the process somewhat. What other changes can you implement in a post-COVID world to help you to manage your business better?

Take feedback on board

It can be difficult to ask for feedback. After all, no one wants to hear what they are doing wrong, even if it is for the good of their business, but it really can make a significant difference.

The most obvious place to start with this is on your reviews and social media pages. If the same comments and criticisms about a particular product or business product keep cropping up, take heed and do something about it.

However, you can also create a focus group, made up of your target audience, and ask them what they think you are doing well and where they think you could improve. Above all else, take the feedback on board. Customers like to know that their opinions matter, so show them and tell them of the improvements that you have made based on their feedback.

Outsource tasks

Small business owners wear so many hats, and sometimes, one can slip and make the whole thing fall apart. Stop trying to do everything yourself and outsource. What is the point of you sitting there staring at a spreadsheet full of numbers that you do not understand when you can search for things like ‘a bookkeeper near me’ to do the hard work for you – and do it better!

Aim for a better work-life balance

If there is one thing that the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it is that nothing is more important than our health. When you are not healthy, you can’t work as productively or efficiently as you could, so it is not only in the best interests of yourself and your family to stay healthy, but your business too.

One of the biggest health issues affecting business owners is burnout. As mentioned above, they wear so many hats and try to do so many things that you can end up burning out, which can be terrible for our health. Make sure you take time to be you, and not just a business owner.

Stay positive

We are in a situation like no other, and no one has any idea what the future is going to hold. There are undoubtedly going to many challenges in the road ahead, and sometimes, you may well feel like quitting. However, try to stay positive. You are far from the only person or business experiencing feelings like this, and while some will end up closing, many will survive, and come back stronger than ever.

Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life Blending

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work-Life Blending|Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life BlendingAs COVID-19 began to move throughout the US, organizations reacted quickly to enable employees to “work from home.” For many leaders, this was a shock and they struggled to effectively adapt their organization to a blended world. The myth of work/life balance was prevalent in many companies as they failed to recognize the trends pointing to increased integration of work and life. The concept of work/life balance, or the separation between work and life, was dealt a huge blow with the outbreak of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus forced leaders of hierarchical, on-site, 9-5 businesses to acknowledge what should have been blatantly obvious: work and home life can no longer be looked at as being balanced but should be viewed as blended.

COVID-19 simply accelerated the trend that has been taking place for years. In my TEDx Talk, Blendification® of Work and Life, I highlight that social, technological, and economic impacts are forcing work and life together. The work/life balance myth has run its course. Here are some observations from the focus on work/life balance:

Work/life balance has become a cover for “look at how hard I am working.” Over the years, I have never heard anyone say, “I need more balance, I am spending way too much time with my family.” More accurately, it is the reverse. People are constantly saying they “need more balance,” which is code for “I am working too hard” or “look at how hard I am working.” They are typically bringing attention to their work ethic as if it is a badge of honor. As a result, work/life balance has turned into a personal proclamation about my strong work ethic at the expense of my personal and family life.

Work/life Balance creates an adversarial relationship between the two. When pursuing work/life balance, an adversarial or competitive relationship becomes prevalent. When this happens, people begin to keep score. It is not uncommon to hear people add up their work hours and become frustrated when they exceed what they consider “balanced.” The pursuit of balance is a futile quest. If you are pursuing your human potential, you cannot separate work and life. You will never achieve equilibrium between the two.

Work and home life do not happen in averages. Life happens in extremes, but we talk about it in averages. As someone once told me: “If I have one foot in a boiling hot bucket of water and the other in ice cold water, the average is fine, but I am not feeling fine!” That describes work and home life. There are constant demands that create the need to be in one area or the other. With fluctuating and conflicting demands, pursuing balance is unrealistic.

While work/life balance has proven to be a myth, blending work and life is more realistic and aligns with social, technological, and economic trends. There are two aspects to consider when blending work and life: the physical and the psychological. Here are some insights into each:

Physical Blending Work and Life

As the novel coronavirus swept the world, companies scrambled to create work-from-home capabilities. As mentioned, this accelerated the trends that were already taking place. Organizations quickly leveraged technology to enable a transition from working in an office to working from home. In some cases, this was done hastily because there were tangible deadlines and corresponding health consequences. As work becomes more integrated physically with homelife, here are ideas that will be helpful going forward:

  • Provide guidance to employees (directional and financial) in setting up dedicated workspace.
  • Make recommendations on boundaries to reduce “interference.”
  • Update policies and procedures with detailed expectations related to working from home.
  • With increased risk of technology and security breaches, make sure you have updated your protection and keep enhancing it since hackers see an opportunity in penetrating our data.
  • Maintain standards in work attire for those participating in online meetings.
  • Create dedicated technology-driven social events.

Psychologically Blending Work and Life

While most of the focus has been on the physical aspects of blending work and life, the true benefits of a blended life are psychological. The millennial generation has opened our eyes to the need to pursue our human potential by positively impacting the world. Given that we spend over 50% of our waking time at work or in work-related activities, we cannot possibly realize our human potential without incorporating work. As a result, the workplace becomes one of the primary areas where people pursue their potential and maximize their impact on society.

What happens at work, happens at home, and this inherent connection is key to creating a better workplace, better homelife, better customers, and better communities. When workplace organizations recognize the importance of growing and developing their employees—not just their job-related skills, but their personal and leadership skills—they will see happier and more fulfilled employees taking pride in their entire life. Here are some points related to developing the psychological aspects of blending work and life:

  • Develop, define, and disseminate your desired culture to make it so compelling and strong that it is alive when employees are working from home.
  • Align your culture with a motivating cause.
  • Create a strategic platform that sets clear strategic focus, outcomes, and actions that are connected to the organization’s culture and cause.
  • Cascade the strategic platform throughout the company through internal peer accountability groups (we call them Roots Groups in The Blendification® System).
  • Institute ongoing training and development around activating your employees’ human potential, leading to greater lifelong fulfillment.
  • Build an ongoing communication and operating system that blends your culture, strategy, and execution, linking employees’ daily work to meaningful outcomes.

The illusion of work/life balance has been revealed with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time to embrace the trends that have been taking place for years and leverage work to enhance employees’ lives, customers’ lives, and the benefits to their communities. Since COVID-19 accelerated working from home, business leaders now have the opportunity to increase their company’s impact by blending work life and homelife.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Dan BruderDan Bruder is the CEO of Fusion Dynamics Group, an international strategy and leadership consulting firm based in Colorado. He has an accomplished background in executive leadership and is a faculty member of Colorado State University’s Executive MBA program and the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Graduate Leeds School of Business. Drawing on his 30-plus years of leadership experience, he created The Blendification® System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy and Execution. The Blendification® System book is available on Amazon as well as through a series of workshops and keynotes. Learn more about The Blendification® System, at

How to Run a Business from Home

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Run a Business from Home|How to Run a Business from HomeThe idea of starting a business is something that appeals to a lot of people, but there are some restrictions that might stop them from going forward with their dream. One of these is that they feel the need to have an office or business premises away from home. Although this will be true of cafes, restaurants, retail stores and the like, there are many other businesses which you can start and run successfully from home.

If this ideal appeals to you and you want to use your home to run a business from, there are things you will need to consider and put in place to be productive and successful. Read on to find out what some of them are.

Have a Dedicated Office Space

It may not be possible if you live in a small apartment, or if you share your home with lots of other people, but if you can find a space to use solely as an office you will find that working from home is much easier.

This could be a guest bedroom, for example, or a playroom that the kids no longer use. You could extend up into the attic or use the basement. You might even have a custom-made building put up in your backyard.

Although this might been like a lot of trouble and expense to go to if you could simply work at the kitchen table or in your bedroom on a makeshift desk, it will help you be more productive, and ultimately more successful, if you have somewhere you can call your own. You won’t have to keep moving your work so that other people can use the space and you can effectively shut everything away at the end of the day, offering a better work life balance.

Have a Special Phone Line

People will want to be able to get in touch with you and that means an email address and a phone number. An email address is simple to set up and can be done in minutes for free. The phone number, however, is slightly different. You could give your cell number, and although this is perfectly fine, it can be seen as a little unprofessional. You could give your home number, but what if someone else needs to use the phone, or what if someone else answers it and has no idea what the person calling needs or wants? This will also look unprofessional.

The ideal solution is to have a virtual phone line set up. This will give a landline number for customers to call and it can be diverted to your cell so that you know to answer in a professional manner. There are different plans at to look at and you should be able to find something that suits you and your business in terms of budget and ease of use.

Be Organized

Organization is key in any business, but perhaps even more so when you work from home. It can get very confusing when you have your work and personal life mixing so closely, so you need to be extremely organized, allowing time for work and time for home life. Have a schedule in place and try to stick to it as much as you can. This will help you stay happy and keep you productive, too.

Ways To Invest In Your Team For Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Invest in your Team|Ways To Invest In Your Team For BusinessYour team is important to your business, and if you’re not making an effort to look after them and to provide everything they need to be successful, then, as a result, your business will suffer. Here are a few ways to invest in your team for business.

Have A Budget For Staff Training

A budget for staff training is useful to have because there are lots of opportunities that you can give your staff to build up their knowledge, the skills that they have, and the experiences that they can receive whilst in your employment. Some businesses have been known to part-fund and even fully fund degrees, whether that’s to the University of Nevada Reno or even overseas. If they can see the benefit that it can have for the company, then any good business owner will take that investment risk and hope that it pays off. Even if you start off small, being able to offer some opportunities for learning can be great to keep your staff happy but to also benefit the business in a variety of ways.

Consider Their Mental Wellbeing

Everyone has mental health, and the way we look after it can influence how well we cope in our day to day lives. Whether it be the stress of a particular campaign that a staff member is working on or issues outside of the workplace, as an employer, you can do your bit. Think about the support you can offer to help your employees look after their mental health. Flexible working could be an option if there are staff members who might need to work home occasionally. Having more one to one meetings can be good with their line managers to discuss how they’re getting on and whether there can be any improvements or issues fixed that they’re concerned about.

Support New Ideas

Everyone can have an influence on a business, and each person can bring something new to the table. When it comes to your team, try to incorporate everyone into any directions that you want to take the business in, no matter big or small. Make team meetings more interactive and engaging for everyone, rather than the few confident colleagues who might like to talk a lot. Give everyone a chance to bring new ideas to the table, and you might find someone in your workforce that’s got something great.

Reward Their Work

Hard work certainly deserves rewards, and whether that’s in a financial form of a bonus or an extra day off, it doesn’t go unnoticed with staff. Make a point of ensuring that all staff will get acknowledged and praised for putting in the hard work. Those extra perks can be essential for staff who need it and want to feel valued within their workplace. It also feels good as an employer to reward hard work, and it inspires others to work harder too.

Your team matters, no matter how big or small they may be. Use these tips to help improve your investment in the company.

Workplace Depression: This is How to Tell Your Employees Are Depressed

StrategyDriven, Business Management, Mental Health, Work-Life Balance,You’ve always dreamed of having happy, hardworking employees that grow your brand every day…

…But life happens.

Sometimes employees are upset or not working as hard as they once did, whether because of personal problems or unfortunate social situations.

As their leader, you may wonder how to tell if your employees are showing signs of depression.

Keep reading to learn how to identify workplace depression along. We also offer a couple of tips on how to approach a depressed worker.

The Signs of Workplace Depression

Depression in the workplace may be difficult to look out for, especially if your Bachelor’s degree isn’t in psychology.

Depression is not balling up and crying in a dark corner or isolating yourself in a cubicle and never talking to people.

Types of depression can range from a state of low moods to immense hopelessness and everything in between. These states of being can strongly impede cognitive functioning and working relationships.

The constant negative thinking patterns brought about by a depressive mood set can welcome in unhealthy thoughts, including suicidal ones. Depression can be a very personal mental health issue that is hard to spot in certain individuals.

However, the Mental Health Foundation has provided guidelines for employees, coworkers, and friends to look out for:

  • Physical signs of self-harm (such as seeing scarring on the wrists)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss of interest in once exciting things
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Persistent states of sadness
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Anxious tendencies
  • Comments about death and suicide
  • Strong statements about hopelessness

A general lower state of being may seem to plague your employee.

These signs can come to fruition in different ways. Once productive employees may suddenly start missing deadlines. Once excited employees may no longer have anything to say in meetings.

It is a general rule of thumb to look for major behavior and productivity shifts. These could be major indicators that there is a problem afoot.

Unhealthy Workplace Situations

While the workplace environment may not exclusively cause an employee to become depressed, conditions within the workplace may not be doing much to help a depressed employee.

Having your employees work long, irregular hours will only encourage the fatigue and tiredness that come along with depressing thoughts. Working these excruciating kinds of hours also makes it difficult to have a life outside of work, not to mention the lack of sleep that often comes with irregular, demanding work schedules.

Having a routine that is – perhaps – too scheduled may also contribute to depression in the workplace. Overwhelming redundancy in workplace operations may not be stimulating enough for some employees.

Making projects or due dates that are too challenging, or maybe even impossible, also lends to an upsetting workplace environment. It is always important to recognize employee strengths and be sure to help your employees grow and learn without having goals that are overly strenuous.

All businesses have to deal with difficult situations, which may or may not involve difficult customers. Handling these situations may be part of an employee’s daily tasks, but it is important to support any employee that is enduring any sort of heat for any issues with or complains about the company or its products or services.
The goal is to create a productive yet supportive workplace that recognizes hardworking staff.

What Happens When Depression Goes Unnoticed?

As depression unfolds over time, small behavior changes follow. Then, major shifts of behavior changes follow.
These shifts could bring major consequences, which could include unsafe decision-making, poor communication, and even dramatic lash-outs.

Depressed employees may start missing deadlines or stop producing quality work. They may not be properly dressed or start coming later and later. They will be less dedicated to the company overall because of the war going on in their mind.

The last thing that these people need to hear is that they’re fired.

They need support. They need help. They need someone to care.
There are many ways that you can go about supporting these employees and turn your work environment around.

What You Can Do As Their Boss

The number one thing that you should make sure of as a boss is that your staff is comfortable. If they aren’t comfortable, good work will not be done.

Vulnerability in the workplace is one of the biggest challenges for all businesses. Being open with your boss about your mental health – especially if your thoughts aren’t positive – is nearly impossible to do. There are many fears about termination or judgment that circle around the idea of sharing mental health in the workplace.

The number one thing you can do is to put an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place. EAPs are fantastic for giving your employees a place to voice their personal problems, whether these involve issues at home or at work. Learning more about EAPs is important to establishing a healthy working environment and giving a platform for your employees to get the help that they need.

Having staff members who are trained in identifying signs of depression and other mental health issues is also a great idea to ensure you’re supporting your team. These professionals will be able to spot the signs and help your employees before something goes wrong.

Along with preventing the unhealthy workplace situations that we discussed earlier, it would be beneficial to encourage regular, clear communication overall. Stress builds up over time when expectations aren’t being met or not even being set. Communicating your wants and needs while taking their wants and needs into consideration is important for a smooth-running business.

Overall, the best thing you can do is support your employees. You are their leader in the workplace.

Moving Forward

As you carry on with your business, it is important to know how damaging depression can be. It is important to remember that depression is a complex chemical imbalance, and it is not the employee’s fault or your fault.
Be sure to support your employees and provide the mental health resources that they need. These resources may even be useful for you in times of trouble.

Remember to reach out and support your team, especially when facing possible workplace depression. You’re all in this together.