Pivoting with Lean Six Sigma to Optimize Work from Home
Posted: Aug 16, 2020
We are living in an unprecedented time. Never before has the global workforce been affected in this manner and to this magnitude. Working professionals across the globe had to make serious adjustments when they had to start working from home. While work from home was not unheard of before the pandemic, it was surely not so popular.
However, the paradigm might have shifted, and experts are suggesting that a significant portion of the workforce will continue to work from home even when the pandemic ends. If you have been similarly affected by the pandemic, this article is for you.
While people all around are discussing the benefits of work from home, there are a lot of disadvantages that may seep in as well.
Communicating with a distributed team has never been easy, and with people working from home, this problem will grow. Managers and leaders will not only have to find new and efficient ways to communicate with everyone in the team but might have to develop new protocols and routines. Luckily, several tools can help in prompt and robust communication for the team.
2. Technical issues and training:
People may run into technical problems related to their old tasks and with the new system that the organization has put into place. While there had always been a need for training, working from home increases an iteration of training needed and limits training delivery methods.
3. Discipline and time seep:
This might be the biggest problem with the work from home setup. Even with all the training, deadlines, and plans, it will take employee discipline to get the job done. Office workplaces remove several distractions that may exist in a home-based workplace. This may include disturbance from family members, children, and even the desire to have a quick word with others.
The last problem is the primary concern of organizations and also the issue where lean six sigma tools and techniques can help.
The 5S method includes Sort, Set, Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. The method involves going through items in the workplace, removing what is unnecessary, and organizing things.
Sort: This involves sorting through the materials and keeping only the essential items needed to complete the work that you have. This will directly eliminate any object that may cause distraction.
Set in order: Setting things in order means organizing everything so they can easily be acquired while you are working.
Shine: Keep the work area clean and tidy. An untidy workspace has a direct adverse effect on productivity and the will to work.
Standardize: This is where you take the first 3 s and make a rule about them. You can also create a work plan with targets that will help you get your work done.
Sustain: The sustenance part is related to your commitment to the task that you have and the standards that you have set. There can be no long-lasting benefit of the 4s unless one commits to them.
Another major issue that may come with WFH or flexible hours is time management. You can easily get lost in discussion with your favorite cousin that may take some time of your away from work or get occupied with helping a family member. DMAIC is one of the most popular tools of Lean Six Sigma and can help you with the problem of time management.
Define: In the define phase, you identify the problem, which in this case is "leak" of time or time you spend on non-essential or non-work-related tasks. You can also determine the time you require actually to get the work done and the best method to do so.
Measure: This is a phase where you map and measure the time leak. You will have to review your schedule and identify areas where you waste time or identify habits that do not directly add value.
Analyze: Now that you know about the leaks, you need to identify the reason behind those time leaks. Analyzing the root-cause will not only help in stopping the time leak but will also help you in optimizing your task. The 5-why root cause analysis technique of LSS can help you here.
Improve: This is the time to eliminate the cause of deviations. Do not just consider non-work-related tasks but the work-related tasks as well. You might have to find workarounds for several task-related delays that might be a result of working from a remote location.
Control: In this phase, you commit to doing things in a different way to avoid wasting time. Several day-to-day tasks include habits, and you might have to work on certain habits as well.
So these were a couple of examples of how lean six sigma tools can help you in not only setting up the home office but will help in optimizing the process of working from home. LSS finds similar small and large applications in your life and work and can play a significant role in optimizing your business processes and the overall all quality. If you have been planning to take up structured learning in Lean Six Sigma, you can explore our Lean Six Sigma Course catalog here or connect to our learning experts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy learning!
Gaurav is a professional with extensive experience in the project management and adult learning domain.