Category Archives: Lean manufacturing tools

32% More Employee Productivity with Plants?

I recently came across an article on New Zealand Business news called Growing Productivity with Office Plants. According to the article the trend over the last few years to a ‘lean, clean office’ really impacts employee productivity in a very negative way. But wait – before we throw lean out the window we need to look a little deeper. The problem is not the lean clean, but in fact the lack of employee involvement. According to British researcher Dr. Craig Knight businesses can improve staff well-being by up to 40% and employee productivity by up to 32% by first “enriching the space” then allowing staff to stamp their own identities on how it looks. If management can see their way to letting go a bit and allowing staff into the decision-making around their own environment the result is the optimum solution for productivity – no matter what the work space ends up looking like.

Do you encourage your employees to be active? A study in Australia recently had one group of employees walk 10,000 steps a day and another not only walk the steps but add some resistance training 3 times a week. (For a comparative a typical office worker walks about 2000 to 3000 steps a day and on average walking 18 holes on a golf course is about 12,000 steps.)

What they found was the employees’ measurable components of brain function, including the ability to plan, remember, simulate future scenarios and make decisions was improved by 2% for the walkers and 4% for the group that had extra activity. Add to that their stress levels were also reduced.  Now 2% might not sound like a lot but as I have observed with the sport of curling a 2% better performance can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Now here is a real simple test for the health of an organization from the online toolkit of Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive;  the Reich’s Pronoun Test.  Robert B. Reich is a former US labor secretary. He devised a simple tool for measuring the health of an organization. When talking to employees he listens to the pronouns they use. Do the employees refer to the company they work for as ‘they’ or as ‘we’?  ‘They’ suggests at least some amount of disengagement, ‘we’ on the other hand suggests some ownership and possibly the employees feel like they are part of something meaningful or significant.

If you are hearing a lot of ‘they’ perhaps you need to invest in some plants and allow your employees some control over their work space  😉

Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at


Are you Organized?

I find the more organized I am the more I can accomplish. Now that doesn’t just mean in the shop or the office that means on the computer as well. Things need their place. I find I often use the see through storage boxes and label everything really well. That way the things I don’t use on a regular basis aren’t mixed in with the things I do use, but they are still easy to find or accessible. On the computer I make use of files as categories and I can usually find what I need in a very short space of time. Even emails – but that is a topic for a different day.

Does this look like your workplace?

Occasionally I have had to convince others that organizing things to be more productive works. For that I use an exercise based on one of the lean manufacturing tools called 5S. You can get the explanation for 5S for those that are interested here on my website. 5S is a process where first you eliminate those things that you don’t use regularly. Next you organize the workspace. Cleaning up is the next step which includes making sure you eliminate the source of the dirt. Finally you need to set it up so you can maintain and improve it.

This little exercise is fun and can be used to convince staff or anyone for that matter the importance of being organized. For those of you that have been at one of my Productivity Presentations you will remember the exercise. Get the exercise instructions here. Get the exercise sheets here. For those who have played before I have added one more step in the exercise just as a way of reinforcing the point.

After playing the exercise one shop owner used it at a staff meeting. It sent the point home and within a few months he was able to free up about 300 square feet of shop space to put to better use. Could you use some additional square feet in your operation?

 Productivity is a measure of how much – work, time, effort, money, or energy – you have to put into something to get the desired outcome. For more tips and tools on how to get more productive please visit Blue Collar Consulting Inc. at