Reducing Motion in Lean Office

Posted at:
Sep 02, 2022
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* Reducing Motion in Lean Office

“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”

Shigeo Shingo

According to Taiichi Ohno, the father of lean and one of the forerunners of Lean Manufacturing and was part of the team that developed the Toyota Production System, one of the first steps to becoming lean is to eliminate waste in a process. In 1988, he defined seven types of Muda. An eighth Muda was added later on.  

In a business setting, Motion Excess is any unnecessary or excessive motion that does not produce any value. In paper-based offices, it can be going back and forth to the copier, flipping through papers, etc. In a digital office, motion excess is any excessive movement that occurs when an employee is using their computer. Working with slow old computers, software that crashes often, and poorly-mapped file systems are all examples of time-consuming inefficient activities. Another way motion excess manifests itself in a modern office setting is attending meetings without being able to produce unless a decision is made, or new plans are developed during the meeting.

The Muda of Motion Excess in the office can take (but is not limited to) any of the following forms:

  • Poor workstation/office layout
  • Walking between offices
  • Movement of people from and to meeting rooms
  • Extra keystrokes
  • Excess mouse clicks
  • Scrolling up and down a computer screen
  • Shuffling through paper
  • Manual data entry
  • Walking to/from photocopier/printer
  • Employees not working to a standard method
  • Searching for files on the computer
  • Sorting through materials
  • Poor process design
  • Shared equipment and machines
  • Siloed operations

Any task that requires excessive motion is considered waste and therefore should be redesigned to improve the productivity of the employees while safeguarding their health, safety, and overall job satisfaction.

To eliminate the Muda of Motion Excess from the office, start by asking yourself: Can we adjust the physical layout of the office to optimize productivity and ergonomics? To do so, check if teams who constantly work together are placed in proximity. Verify that office equipment is close to the people who use it most. A good office plan ensures that employees can access up to 90% of the resources they need by taking a direct path on the floor they work on. Making sure that the office space is designed with employee movement in mind can save you and your employees a lot of time. A well-organized office optimizes employee productivity and ergonomics and safeguards their time and health.

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