In order to make the most of what Lean has to offer, you should start from your office environment as the core of your work process. Once you effectively implement Lean into your offices, everything will fall into place, and you will notice a significant rise in your productivity.
Why is Lean important in an office environment?
The simplest explanation would be that Lean is there to increase the work process speed and reduce waste as much as possible. By helping accomplish this, it will add value to every task performed and, ultimately, will increase the productivity of the company as a whole.
The work process speed is increased by cutting away everything that slows it down, such as unwanted or unnecessary tasks. Waste reduction is achieved through elimination of everything that is considered waste in an office environment:
- Processing errors (general rework, missing information, lost files, etc.).
- Uncontrolled production cycles (producing too much or too little, depending on the business strategy).
- Idle time (awaiting approvals, delays in the work process, being late, etc.).
- Unnecessary motion (staff members moving around the workplace without any particular need or connection to their given tasks).
Why should you implement Lean in your office?
First of all, Lean will help you easily identify all the problem areas in your work surroundings. You will spend significantly less time on figuring out what to do, and you will have a clearer understanding of your potential business strategy.
Furthermore, you will increase your efficiency and save a lot of financial resources along the way. Once your office environment becomes “Lean-friendly”, all of your staff members will know exactly what they need to do, and their targets will be met much more effectively. By doing away with everything that is redundant, you will be able to focus on the essential aspects of your work process; in turn, this will cut costs and contribute to your financial wellbeing.
Also, implementing Lean into your office areas will simplify the entire work process for your company. You will have a much clearer picture of the priorities, while the paperwork gets cut down to the bare minimum. Lean principles are excellent when it comes to prioritizing work tasks within a given process. You will find the most logical way in which to perform a certain task and, as a direct result of this, the whole work process will flourish.
Once Lean practices are fully integrated into your work process, the morale of your employees will become stronger. They will know exactly what they are doing, and the entire working atmosphere will be much better.
How to implement Lean in an office environment?
1. Redefining meetings
Business meetings have to be as short and effective as possible. A good practice would be to set a strict time for meetings within each working area (department, section, etc.) and to maintain the meeting schedule on a continuous basis.
Enough time should pass between two meetings, in order to improve their effectiveness. Each meeting should have only a couple of topics on the agenda, or only one topic – the most important one. During the meeting, only relevant questions should be asked.
2. Introducing the 5S Principle
This is a Lean principle for structuring the work process through strict categories and sub-categories for better work optimization.
- Sorting – separating the necessary from the unnecessary
- Simplifying – doing away with everything that makes the work process complicated
- Shining (cleaning) – regular cleaning and inspection of the office area
- Standardizing – establishing strict guidelines for keeping the work area organized and fully-functioning
- Sustaining – keeping the office productivity on a certain level, and coming up with new ways for improvement
3. Ongoing employee education
Organizing workshops, seminars, lectures and educational classes for all staff members, making sure they are all fully engaged and attentive.
This way, employees will be highly informed on the new developments within their industry, and they will be more capable of focusing on their daily tasks in the most productive way possible.
4. Employee cross-training
By being cross-trained for multiple positions, employees can:
- learn a set of different skills
- become more aware of the entire work process
- understand the importance of every work task
- increase their own work flexibility
- stay focused and motivated throughout the work week
- become deeply engaged in the work process
- develop problem-solving abilities
- value the importance of teamwork
- embrace company culture and work ethics
- increase company productivity on a continuous basis
These are just some of the Lean principles for an office environment, but even small changes can bring considerable improvements to any office environment.
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