Regardless of how familiar you are with the teachings of Lean Manufacturing or Lean Office, it’s important to know what the 7 Areas of Waste are in any work environment. Knowing these seven will help you in spotting areas where waste can be eliminated, improvements can be made and productivity can increase. In no particular order the seven wastes are:
- Over Production
- Over Processing
The Waste of Motion is probably one of the easiest to identify. According to Gemba Research, they suggest identifying Waste of Motion by looking for the “Ugly –Ings”. Go back to your elementary classroom where you learned that a verb was an action. Now add –ing to a variety of verbs and you’ll begin identifying Motions in the office.
It’s helpful that the supplies you need throughout your day are located on your desk or within arms’ reach. If you consistently find yourself getting out of your chair to get something located on a shelf across your office or in the office of a co-worker, it’s time to relocate the item so it will be more easily accessible.
Searching for lost or misplaced items can represent wasted time as well as motion. Have you ever been on the hunt for a parts manual, budget binder or some other document in which you turn your office upside down as well as your co-workers? Assigning homes for things and properly putting items away will go a long way in cutting down time spent searching.
While bending and stretching are an important part of many fitness classes, it can be detrimental on-the-job. If you find yourself straining on a consistent basis to get something from a storage shelf, it’s time to make some adjustments. Many workplace injuries can be prevented by relocating often-used items on shelves within shoulder and knee heights.
Taking a look at cubicle configurations and how employees are arranged will go a long way in wasted motion spent walking. Employees working together should be located near one another in order to maximize efficiency and productivity. If Employee A often consults with Employee B, but they are on opposite sides of the building or even on different floors, it would be time well spent to reconfigure their seating arrangements.
Sending too many emails is another wasted motion. Imagine this scenario: It’s 8:30 a.m. and you receive an e-mail from someone. You respond, with a quick question. They get back to you around 11 a.m. and you return an e-mail back around 1 p.m. This continues and by the end of the day the two of you have exchanged “e-mail volleys” about 6-8 times when a simple 30-second phone conversation could have resolved everything.
As you work around your office, pay close attention to not only your own movements but that of paper and e-mail as well. I’m guessing you’ll be spotting a few “Ugly –Ings” hiding out nearby.