Updated: Oct 20, 2019
This topic has been a consistent conflict in many businesses i have come across and continues to cause a rift regardless of how its viewed, measured or referenced.
These are our views based upon experience and some approaches we have seen taken which i hope may bring some perspective.
Utilisation from the online dictionary is described as "The action of making practical and effective use of something" now this can be fine when referring to an automated machine and trying to define the ROI or the regularity across a project of a equipment's application or even software usage. When talking about Human resource, people, this term and the way its often perceived through measures can set a very poor and fractious tone.
Obviously as far as utilisation goes when a resource is in play or on the clock the golden target is 100%, if this is not the case then that resource is seen as inefficient. but let me outline a number of instances or even combination of instance where this is inevitably impossible when people are measured this way. With a single worker on an 8 hour day the following could all be true and in a world more conscious than ever about personal health and well-being and to compete for top talent it is necessary to accommodate and be realistic about all of these points...
30 mins Official lunch break
3 mins toilet break
4 mins obtain drink
5 mins snack (unofficial)
10 mins smoking break
10 mins personal chat
With these points alone you have already lost a very reserved 12.91% utilisation and this could be longer when movement time is evaluated and most likely these events happen multiple times a day. This is also before you start taking out maintenance time, clean up, team talks and training time, as well as over the year taking in to account holidays and sickness. These are not bad things, in fact they are unavoidable. Lets be honest they are the things and moments of space you will gift yourself so why wouldn't your employees.
If we stick on the reserved side and take this 12.91% and add average time per day lost when holidays and 2 days sick are taken in to account you end up with 24.16% unutilised time that means on average you lose nearly 2 hours per employee every day! Should you be worried? Should you do something about it? No! In fact the only thing you should do is stop driving utilisation, its the wrong measure, it will only frustrate you and demotivate your workforce.
So whats the answer?
Productivity: measured as the rate of output per input. By this i am suggesting you view the way people and a work day are structured a little differently, if you were paying for a service and one supplier would do the work in 8 hours for £200 and another would do it in 4 hours for the same money you would obviously go for the quicker supplier providing all else is equal. So why do we judge employee's on bum's on seat's time in the office? do they even have to be in the office or workshop? do the hours have to be the same or can they flex? Can we provide the tools to enable our employees to work whenever and wherever and truly trust them to deliver like it is their own business.
If we have less time than we hoped in a day how can we improve what we do with the time we have and enable workers to be more effective, provide and invest in better tools, ensure best practice and safety whenever wherever the work or workers happen to be.
At the end of the day what matters is the work is achieved on time, in budget to quality, the approach can be engaging, motivating, flexible and maybe more innovative than the way you are today. All you need do is communicate and collaborate with your teams and facilitate the change and growth through the right tools and principles to allow them to become truly autonomous and invest themselves in the business. You may see your output and work environment improve more than ever and believe me there are still many ways you can measure your business performance whilst allowing autonomy.
To discuss a Lean improvement approach and how to stream line your supply chain for service, manufacture, in an office, workshop or onsite environment contact us for a honest and reliable conversation on how to asses and approach your projects.