Working in an inefficient office can be frustrating, stressful, and bring down employee morale. We have all visited a doctor’s office, as a patient, where it seems like you wait forever for the staff to process your paperwork and check you in. The physician sees you for 5 minutes and you think you are on your way, only to find that you are waiting, again, to be checked out. Patients vent their frustrations on the office staff because it seems as if they are either not doing their jobs, or they are doing something wrong.
Offices such as these are lacking in a good work flow and are certainly not efficient. Most of the time, this is no fault of the staff. It is the process that is broken and no matter how wonderful your employees are and no matter how much they want to do a good job, they cannot get past the inefficiencies of the process.
If this sounds like your office, there are a few things that you can do to evaluate and change your office work flow and make it more efficient, effective, and patient friendly. Before you begin to really look at your office’s processes and flows, it is important to get management buy-in and support with your change efforts. You also want to put aside any pre conceived notion that your office staff is lazy, unorganized, or needs more training. Although this is always a possibility, in most cases it is a case of good workers trapped in a broken system, therefore they have no chance of success.
The result of office inefficiencies can be a high rate of employee turnover, unhappy patients, and lower revenue.
Step 1: Draw a map of your current office work flow
Put pen to paper and draw it out. You can even use computer software to create a flow chart electronically. Regardless of the media used to draw your map, getting a visual of your current process will undoubtedly show where some improvements can be made. In your drawing, include the time each task takes and who is involved. This will help you evaluate it later.
Step 2: Identify the inefficiencies in the work flow
You will undoubtedly see some problem areas in the office work flow. Don’t try to solve them just yet. You want to identify them first and see if there is a bottleneck or processes or a series of unnecessary motions. Make a note if the process is taking too long and if there are an appropriate number of people involved.
Step 3: Develop solutions and share them
Based on your research, analysis, and knowledge of the industry, make a decision on how this inefficiency can be fixed in your office work flow process and share your ideas with other staff members. They will need to be on board with the changes, as well as the reasons you are implementing them. If you encounter great opposition to the suggested changes, listen to the staff member’s reason and consider tweaking your solutions, if appropriate. Remember that the changes must be a team effort, so listening and responding appropriately are very important.
Step 4: Implement your changes
Once the entire office team understands what needs to be done and why, you are ready to put the changes into effect. Let your initial changes take place and settle in before tweaking them and making even more changes. Discuss the new process with staff members and make adjustments as needed.
Step 5: Re-evaluate your office work flow
After some time has passed and your new process has become the norm, start from the beginning and draw out your office work flow. Include the time that each process takes, as well as the people involved. Compare the new work flow with the old and see if you have made positive progress toward a more efficient office work flow. If you identify any existing inefficiencies, proceed through the steps until you and your office staff are satisfied that you have made all of the right changes.