no waste

return Waiting


How much time do you spend waiting at work? 10 minutes a day? 20 minutes a day? More?

Waiting is something that happens all the time, probably because we just do not have all the resources necessary to have a "wait-less" workplace. Actually sometimes, it seems like waiting is not a bad idea- after all it gives us a bit of time to catch up or catch our breath!

However, waiting around does carry a number of penalties: people lose concentration and focus when they are hanging around, when we run late and we usually have to rush to catch up, that's when we are more likely to make mistakes and errors or have an accident. Furthermore, when we are waiting and generally not being productive, all the support services are still going on - delivering heating, lighting, ventilation, powering computers and so on, even when not a lot of work is being done.

The problem about waiting is that it is unlikely to go away, even with our best efforts sometimes it is beyond our capability (and authority) to make the necessary changes to remove this entirely. So what to do? Sometimes we can do other work first but that can lead to other problems like not working to plans... An HR manager suggested to me that people should undertake very short single topic learning sessions... but by the time you got that organises, probably it's time to start work again.

We suggest an alternative activity during enforced periods of waiting: why not check the state of your equipment and/or clean up/clear up the work area. Yes, they do sound boring, but so is waiting! Nevertheless, checking the tools you use is not a bad idea because it may highlight maintenance needs as well as gives you an opportunity to sort out some performance problems - the TPM mantra mentioned elsewhere in this website link cleaning and clearing up with problem prevention it is probably the best you can do to use the waiting time. It is also a good opportunity to check over any safety equipment you use in your work as well.

This waste is part of the classic Toyota 7 Wastes, which formed the foundations of Lean Operations. Toyota believes that these 7 wastes are the reason why we have physical wastes. However, as these were originally developed for large scale manufacturing, we explored what these wastes mean in a generic sense and have changed some of the emphasis so that they can be readily applied to other business areas.