Efficiency in the Workplace

Keeping organized at work is often harder to maintain than at home. At home you have more motivation because it is where you entertain, get inspired, relax and spend time with family (most of whom are motivated to keep it organized as well). Your home is often your pride and joy, whereas work is just work for most people (that is amazing if work is your pride and joy!).
Over my years in University and afterwards I have worked in the food industry and retail. I never really tried to work in an office where I would be sitting down for most of the day and having to dress nicely, because that’s really not my thing. I’ve always enjoyed fast-paced environments, and with that comes a lot of destruction by customers and employees during rushes of traffic.
The thing that I have noticed at every single place I have worked is that it can become a nightmare to keep it organized!
In the food industry there are lunch and dinner rushes, and during that you are throwing empty food buckets around to get washed once you’ve emptied them, you are running around trying to find things that weren’t prepped the day before, or things that weren’t sufficiently ordered the week before, and it generally looks like a bomb went off until it dies down and you can finally clean it all up. This is the constant cycle, but there are often ways to make it more efficient and looking less like a disaster.
In retail there may be rushes of people during certain times, or all the time on the weekend, and it can often get much more disaster-looking after these pockets of time than in the food industry, because it’s careless customers doing the destruction, rather than employees who are more invested in how the store looks. I work at Solutions (chain of organizing supply stores in Ontario) and the pressure is on for the store to look organized because that is our thing! But after rushes of people, or even just one destructive family who’s toured the entire store, I’ll walk the length of it and come back with a handful of items that were not put back properly. And noticed a million other things that need to be fixed on my second time around.
Even in an office space there would be times that are more stressful and busy than others, with deadlines that need to be hit and clients that need to be called. And if certain papers can’t be found or are mixed up, it can make it all the more stressful.
These scenarios are similar to what happens in a home: in the morning everyone is rushing around to get ready for school or work, and in the evening briefcases and backpacks and thrown about with anxiety to relax in front of the TV.
The key to all of these things is that there needs to be consistency in order to keep things organized. In the workplace this is in theory more difficult than at home because there are more parties involved, and oftentimes they are just there to put in their hours and go home when their shift is over, not wanting to put in more effort than necessary. And it is tough to get people out of this mindset, especially if the job is something they really don’t want to be doing.
The key to motivating staff is to make things worth their while, and I think in the case of keeping it organized, they need to realize that if something is more organized, not only does it look more appealing, but it also keeps things running more efficiently, which makes their job easier.
If you work in a job that seems to be running into issues in regards to organization, take a step back and think of what the problem is.
In an office, are there constant issues with paperwork getting mixed up? Take some time to see how this is getting mixed up: Does there need to be a better filing or labelling system? Maybe there needs to be some changes to the electronic organization of documents? Brainstorm with one or two other staff members to see how things could work better.
In the food industry are there issues with running out of certain products, or having products spoil? Have a labelling system on prepared foods which state when the product was made, when it should be used by (usually 3 days max), and who made it so that if there are inconsistencies in the recipe you know who did it. You should also label bulk packages of food of when it was opened. This gives you an estimated timeline of how long it lasts before you need to re-order, but also how long something lasts before going bad to establish whether that is an ok size to use, or whether you should go smaller or larger. Make sure to have designated homes for things, and drill it into employees’ heads that it needs to go back there, until it is a habit.
In the retail industry are there issues with customers constantly having to ask for the price of something? You may need to price more often: someone should maybe go around every morning to double check that everything has a price. Yes it may seem redundant because you did it the day before, but you don’t know what got changed around, or what product someone returned that was out of stock before. Trust me, there is probably something out there that needs to be priced. Are customers always saying they can’t reach product? Make sure you are down-stocking constantly, or better yet, not putting product on the top of the shelves unless absolutely necessary, but making it fit on the shoppable level. You can always fit more product on the shelves.
If you can’t think of ways to make things work more efficiently in the workplace, consider hiring a professional organizer! There are many who specialize in work environments for maximum efficiency, and they often have a record of increasing sales after making it more organized and efficient! Something to consider when you’re at work searching for yet another missing document, or opening another container of mouldy cheese…