Work Design for a Changing Workforce

We are entering an era of a new normal.  People may struggle to consistently make it to work because of children at home, their own illness, or the need to care for others.  This new normal and ever changing work force requires a new focused attention on work design built on the back of solid standardized work.

What is Work Design?

Word design is the natural extension of standardized work for several steps in a process grouped together with a focus on the combined effort of people and equipment and the flow of product to the customer.  Often these environments evolve into manufacturing cells with standardized work-in-process inventory, parts replenishment areas, and pre-specified paths for workers.   Pacing is established to takt time and conditions are created to allow for work to be caught-up with additional help when problems arise.

Flexibility is a Key Element 

These manufacturing cells are established with very clear instructions for each process in the cell with work content, sequence, the expected time, location of work and the expected outcome all defined.  Theses clear instructions then allow for anyone working in the cell to move to the process that needs attention and complete the work .

When the cells are designed correctly, there is room for someone from the outside to step into an unoccupied process and do the work to help the line get back on pace. This deliberate strategy is called the catch-up plan.

Together with the attention to combined efforts, material flow, clear instructions and a pre-specified catch-up plan, work design helps continue production even when some people are missing.  The pace of production is slower, but operators are familiar to moving to the work and moving the product closer to the customer.  A bottleneck is avoided as the catch-up plan allows for other team members to join in when production falls behind.

Help your organization understand the need for Work Design for the changes we are seeing in the new normal for our workforce.




Brian Mansure

Brian Mansure

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