Workflow can be viewed on many levels. At a high level, it’s how teams work together to deliver productivity. It’s also about how people collaborate within a team or how individuals interact with each other to achieve their own goals. At a much lower level, it can also be about workflow on the desk. How someone accepts work, processes it and passes it on once complete.
There are entire areas of study built around workflow and for good reason. A good workflow increases productivity and efficiency without asking more from your staff. So let’s take a look at some of the essential considerations for creating the perfect workflow.
Within the office
Designing an effective office is about imagining how a group of people will work. How will teams move between desks? How will they do their daily tasks, or collaborate? Will they use a meeting room? A shared area with soft furniture? Sit side by side at desks?
How will they communicate? Will they talk? Shout? Use a messenger app? Will the work areas be noisy? Do some areas demand quiet and solitude? Will customers be able to see the back office? Will you need meeting rooms? Presentations spaces? Rest areas? Hot desks for visitors or field staff? What about shared areas for printing, faxing or lunches?
All these questions will need to be answered if you are to design the perfect workflow.
Type of work
Designing workflow also depends on the type of work undertaken. Is there a lot of telephone work? Are you designing something? Is it busy? Noisy? Frenetic? Chaotic? All those things can either work for or against you depending on your industry.
Setting aside quiet spaces in busier offices can help when someone needs to concentrate or talk to a customer. Rooms with doors can help if someone is under extra pressure or a deadline. Again, it’s about looking at how your organisation works and building flexibility and practicality into the design.
Staff welfare is now a primary concern for any business. We want our staff to be happy, healthy and comfortable in their work. In return, they are productive, take fewer sick days and result in less churn. All combine to make a very productive and profitable environment, which is everyone’s goal in the end.
Good workflow takes welfare into account for the benefit of all. Everything from ensuring there are plenty of windows to good coffee, from somewhere to sit and be quiet to somewhere to get together and chat. It all combines to create a meeting of minds and ideas with the common goal of driving the company forwards.
It could be as simple as a simple left to right paperwork flow system and as complicated as redesigning the entire office so those who work together can be together. Any slight improvement you make to your workflow can make both an individual impact and an impact on the company as a whole. That’s why it’s so important.