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Three Easy Ways to Create a Lean Office Environment

“Time waste differs from material waste in that there can be no salvage. The easiest of all wastes and the hardest to correct is the waste of time, because wasted time does not litter the floor like wasted material.” Henry Ford

Lean manufacturing, or lean production, is a waste reduction method first introduced in the automotive industry in the late 1980’s. A common misconception is that lean principles are specific to the manufacturing industry when, in fact, they can be applied to every kind of business. An example of a successful adoption of Lean methodology can be found in the construction industry, which has begun to focus on Lean principles in its scheduling and coordination efforts. In recent years, EctoHR has focused on implementing Lean initiatives into its office environment and has experienced immediate benefits.

Lean is a way of thinking that has four basic goals:

  • improve quality
  • eliminate waste
  • reduce time
  • reduce total cost

Implementing lean concepts in an office setting leads to continuous improvement of processes and procedures, and ultimately creates a more productive environment. Below are some ideas to incorporate lean principles into an office setting:


  1. Value-Stream Mapping – Mapping involves taking a process and/or procedure and writing out all steps in that process. Once the steps are documented, evaluate the data and look for areas that are unnecessary, repetitive or do not create any value. By removing these steps, you eliminate waste, reduce time and create a more productive environment.


  1. Understand the Customer – In order to be successful and profitable, businesses and people must understand what the customer wants and values and therefore, what they will pay to receive. Is it quality? Convenience? Focusing on customer perception of value can help eliminate the items that are not providing value to the customer and therefore are considered “waste.”

It is important to note that “customers” or “clients” can be both external (those that are the customer of the business as typically defined) and internal. In office environments, internal customers may often be overlooked when implementing Lean practices.


  1. Go Paperless – Sorting through loose papers or a few filing cabinets takes up an incredible amount of time. Creating a well-planned, electronic filing system is an efficient way of storing and filing documents. One way that EctoHR has streamlined electronic filing and efficiency is by creating folder templates so that new projects or clients are easily set up with the accurate structure and naming convention. Additionally, new hires spend 2 hours in training on the filing structure within 3 days of starting at EctoHR, Inc.

One objection to electronic systems is confidentiality and security. With the correct protocol and systems in place, electronic storage should be more secure than most paper-based systems.


If you would like to learn more about how we have implemented Lean Principles in our office, please contact one of our team members at 810.534.0170 or


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