If you hear the term “lean office” and think of an office on a diet, you’re actually not that far off. A lean office operates in a streamlined capacity which focuses on continuous improvement to boost productivity and efficiency, in turn benefiting the bottom line.
Developed in the early 1990s by Toyota Manufacturing, the concept of “lean” initially applied to the manufacturing process. But you can also apply the concept of lean into your office to eliminate wasted activity, time and space to benefit business functionality.
Here are 3 tips to benefit your business with a lean office.
Eliminate Wasted Activity with a Lean Mindset
Any activity conducted by your company should focus on the customer. And while most businesses claim to be customer-centric, many fall short of the mark.
From sales to manufacturing to marketing, the actions of each department within your organization should be focused on and directly connected to your company’s customers and the conditions of their satisfaction. To run a lean office, try to eliminate wasted activities by revising and optimizing processes and initiatives within your organization to be customer-centric. If a process doesn’t focus on delivering your customer their desired value, optimize it to do so.
Your company’s mindset should be focused on whether the customer would benefit from – and ultimately pay for – an activity, and then eliminating any process where the answer is no.
Eliminate Wasted Time with a Lean Workspace
Running a lean office allows you and your employees to reduce time wasted struggling with silly small problems and focus more on creativity and higher thinking. How much time have you wasted looking for your keys, your glasses, your wallet, or sifting through a cluttered office drawer looking for a pen or pencil or trying to find a page of notes?
A lean office operates with the mentality of “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” It can be as small as desk and drawer organizers that offers specific spaces for concise amount of particular office tools, or as big as the implementation of visual management systems that use colors or shapes for organization. But the consistent factor is saving time through simplicity by reducing your workspace to the minimum amount of equipment, materials, and parts that are absolutely essential to add value and organizing them all meticulously.
Eliminated Wasted Space with Lean Space Planning
You can also eliminate wasted time by thoughtfully planning and utilizing your space. To maximize efficiency, you need to eliminate wasted space. The key to doing so is to evaluate your office holistically and plan a space that caters to its workflow and needs.
Consider the layout of your office and its departments. For example, if your finance department needs to work closely with your legal department, putting them within close spatial proximity will streamline their interactions and dealings.
This can also apply to common areas like break rooms, washrooms and shared office spaces as well as shared amenities and tools like printers and copiers. Easier accessibility – even down to a lack of physical barriers to access – mean less wasted time and space. Consider layout based on streamlined movement – is there a way to lay out your office space that eliminates the amount of steps needed to get from Point A to Point B, particularly for high-traffic and frequently used areas and amenities?
The goal is to facilitate ease of communication and movement, make it easy for people to work together and eliminate wasted space to streamline everyday work.
A lean office consists of processes and layouts design to eliminate wasted time and space and minimizes activities that don’t add value. To create a truly lean office, it’s important to evaluate and understand your business’ workflow and to standardize procedures to focus on the end customer. A lean office can ensure your office is efficient and focused on continuous improvement.