The Fastest Way to Improved Productivity

What’s the fastest way to improve business productivity?  Lots of organizations struggle to just set basic priorities, get things done on time/on budget, and keep everyone focused and safe on the job.    There’s so much “noise” in today’s business world it’s hard to know who’s on first – with internet orders, marketing key words, employee accidents, customer or anonymous complaints, lawsuits and new regulations for compliance. One day of spring cleaning is good risk management.

What are the benefits?  Why spend a day doing this?

  • The simple benefits include employee safety and customer satisfaction that come from removing tripping and fire hazards, for example, and getting rid of piles of old documents and obsolete forms to focus on the real priorities.
  • Then there are the more elusive benefits of streamlining core processes, removing red tape, and deleting ancient documents and tax records that can only cause headaches and extra legal costs if someone comes looking.
  • A clean-up provides immediate productivity improvements in the speed and quality of customer service, project management, and order processing.

How can you take effective action?  What can be cleaned?

  • Start with the “piles” around the office, workshop, closets, etc.  Clean up all work spaces and create specific places for stuff that accumulates – shredding, rags, pallets, old marketing material, etc.  Look at stored documents, tax records, etc.  How much are you paying for storage?  What better use could that space have in your workplace?  Do all stored boxes have destruction dates?
    • A Document Retention Policy (it’s really about destruction) will be your legal answer to outside questioning about what was destroyed, when, and by whom.  Consult your legal and tax advisors in setting destruction dates.
  • Look into computers – documents and email.  Look at all drives, devices and archived files, disks, tapes, and hard drives.  Employees always set up their own “personal” storage spots.  Turn over all rocks!  E-discovery work by attorneys can be extremely expensive if you have mounds of old, archaic data and files.
    • Again, a Document Retention Policy is your first step.
    • Ensure that destruction is secure and complete – especially with old hard drives where simple “deletion” often does not remove all data.
  • And check all vehicles for obsolete tools and equipment, trash and “lost” clothing, personal protective gear and expired documentation.  Driver safety can be at stake with these distractions.  Communicate a clean vehicle policy for all.
  • Finally, look at your emergency supplies and first aid cabinets.  Get rid of the obsolete items; update the rest and set a schedule for future reviews.

Take a Spring Cleaning Day to get rid of spider webs and dust bunnies.  Then you and staff are not “haunted” by what’s lurking in piles and old dicey emails.  And you may even find that contact file you’ve wanted to follow up with or a $20 bill!

What are your suggestions?  Comments are welcome!

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One Comment

  1. Mike Van Horn (@mikevanhorn) June 11, 2013 at 10:23 am - Reply

    A few more things to add to your list:
    — The kitchen or lunch room in your office. Old food, broken coffee makers, the packaged chopsticks and soy sauce that come with your Chinese take out, etc.
    — Unused supplies. Envelopes with old addresses, stickers that no longer stick, dried up pens, gadgets that don’t work, power cords to things you no longer have, your dial up modem
    — Postings for compliance. Out of date

    My quibble is that you say “devote a day.” Ha! It would take a week at least! No, a MONTH!

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