Continuous improvement processes are repetitive methods designed for constantly improving a company’s services, products, and processes. They were first created to improve delivery times, keep employees informed about how to approach daily situations, and avoid falling into time-draining tasks during the 80s by big corporations in the manufacturing industry.
The following article will present you with the Kaizen method for continuous improvement to help you enhance internal processes to avoid setbacks and become more productive in a remote environment.
Kaizen is arguably the most effective company-wide practice. Kaizen refers to a Japanese word that means “good change” in English. After World War II, Toyota pioneered the methodology to reduce faults, decrease waste, increase production, motivate workers, and foster creativity. Nowadays, it is known as “Six Sigma,” an action plan meant to reduce waste and improve sustainability in companies.
To better understand what Kaizen is about, we need to break it down and think about it as a philosophy and an action plan.
The idea behind Kaizen is to engage employees and make them part of the mission of constantly improving and giving ideas about how companies’ processes can be managed more efficiently.
There are five critical concepts behind Kaizen known as the 5 S’s, which stand for seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, and we will show you how they can be applied to a remote work environment.
1. Seiri (sort) is about organization, which means categorizing the items needed in the workplace and letting go of the ones that are not important. For business owners managing a remote team, this is particularly useful for establishing priorities, understanding what tasks they should be doing, and delegating the rest to the team. Also, managers and staff can benefit from this principle as it will help them develop the criteria for focusing on what is genuinely needed for performing better in the workplace.
2. Seiton (set in order), this principle is all about prioritizing and arranging tools in the order used.
According to Seiton, setting up the software you use in priority order is helpful. In the context of remote work, there are several digital tools employees use every day, and organizing files in your desktop, folders, or web browsers is of great help to store and organize programs to help you locate important archives and avoid wasting time.
3. Seiso (cleanliness), Seiso introduces the idea of having a clean and organized workspace.
Remote workers often live and work in the same space, making it hard to forget this rule. It is best to create a practical working atmosphere to organize the workspace to avoid losing time. From the home office setup to how computer maintenance is handled, taking care of small details can save tons of time and avoid inconveniences.
For remote workers, productivity can get affected if their equipment is not working correctly.
Here are some tips you can find helpful when checking your equipment.
- Delete the software you do not use
- Keep your antivirus running
- Make sure you delete the cache
- Keep all files organized and have a clean desktop
- Clean your computer regularly
4. Seiketsu (Standardized cleaning), this principle refers to standardizing the cleaning process.
Keeping a clean and tidy workplace is a good habit for ensuring that everything is in order, making specific recurring tasks have a fixed time to get accomplished, and finding files promptly. Also, maintaining good computer maintenance is necessary for avoiding inconvenient malfunctions.
A good performance check routine should have:
- A weekly performance check scheduled with reminders
- A checklist to use as a guide
- An appointment with an IT specialist every three months
5. Shitsuke (discipline), This principle is about consistency and motivation.
Implementing the 5 S's in the organization is required for managing remote workers to ensure ongoing improvement, time productivity, and the avoidance of time-consuming duties.
Here are some valuable tips to become more organized and motivated at work.
- Plan your schedule every day
- Organize your workspace and perform regular checks
- Motivate yourself to perform better every time
- Celebrate your wins
- Repeat the process
Practicing the five principles should be a recurring task to keep the workplace running efficiently.
Continuous improvement methods are a great way to set working policies and train your staff in how they should approach everyday situations to enhance productivity. Remote companies can potentially benefit from these principles and implement them with their employees to ensure the company is running efficiently.