I have worked in many different types of workspaces over the years, the most memorable was where I was sharing space with what was effectively a dumping ground for old furniture, shelving units (lots of shelving units!) and old files etc. My mahogany desk was antique and even though it looked really pretty with its green leather trim, it was totally unpractical and did not fit the requirements in terms of correct height nor did it have the space for working with VDU, keyboard, mouse and phone. This beautiful piece of furniture was designed for minimal use probably for writing poetry and letters using a quill & ink.
Our work environment can have such a significant effect on how we work and there are many published guidelines on ergonomics in the workplace and how our ideal workspace should look and operate. This is fine if we are setting up an office or a workspace for the first time where we can think about how we do things and position things around us to help us work more effectively. However, in many situations, we are having to adapt to an environment which isn’t always fit for purpose and we just have to make the most of it.
This is particularly true for many types of small to medium size business such as General Practice, Solicitors Offices, Accountancy Firms etc who work out of what were previous family homes and period buildings. Most of these buildings are so full of charm but don’t always lend themselves that easily to completion of day to day tasks or meet the ideal requirements of the Business so we just have to make the best of it.
“Efficiency is doing better, what is already being done.
– Peter F. Druker”
In some situations, there are changes that can be made in terms of internal structure and layout, however, this can be an extremely costly exercise in older buildings where we do not know what lies within those thick walls along with the fact that some of these buildings are listed which prevents any or minimal modifications to be made.
So how can we make the best of our working space?
It is a really good exercise to write down the most common tasks we complete on a daily basis. Let’s take a busy GP Surgery for example; The most common tasks may be; answering the phone while using VDU, printing material, form filling, handing out prescriptions, handing out forms of various shapes and sizes, Meeting, greeting & checking in patients/clients, cash handling and using a card terminal for payment transactions, issuing of receipts, handling samples, responding to GP queries.
Lets break it down further and look at three key tasks which are answering the phone while working on your computer, completing forms and handing out prescriptions/forms to Patients, sometimes all at the same time!
So, where is your phone positioned in relation to your computer and is your computer at the correct height and distance from you? Is your work area well lit and can you see your keyboard clearly? Do you have to stretch to answer the phone. Where are the prescriptions and various forms kept – can you reach them without standing or moving too far from your desk.
There are some really simple steps that all of us can make to make our work that little bit easier with the result that we are a lot less stressed and a lot more productive. Some steps are very simple and require just a little re-organising while other solutions such as wearing a headset for phone handling can be a small but great investment. Wearing a headset allows much greater freedom allowing you to move around the office if you need to complete tasks or deal with queries which take you away from your desk. For more tips on saving time, improving productivity and reducing stress, check out my next blog which is coming soon!
Asumpta Gallagher is a Consultant & Training Specialist with experience across many different sectors specialising in the Healthcare Sector. Check out her website for further information on how she can help you improve your current processes