Elevating commercial properties post-pandemic

Elevating commercial properties post-pandemic

Veritiv Facility Solutions | October 8, 2021

Property owners and managers face continued uncertainty about the commercial property market and must grapple with tenants’ post-pandemic demands. With some essential supplies on backorder and a restricted labor pool, the current environment makes keeping buildings clean a challenge.

Safe and sanitized workplaces are top of mind for people returning to the office, and this makes the facility professional’s job even harder.

While many healthcare experts think we rounded the corner on COVID-19, its ripple effect on commercial properties will last for months, if not years. In the meantime, attracting tenants to large office spaces and retaining their business is critical for those who own and lease buildings.

When a company can streamline its cleaning processes, saving time and energy, and reduce the amount of cleaning supplies it buys, those savings go to the bottom line. The tangible value of process improvement efforts is a key reason the commercial property industry is embracing LEAN principles.

A brief history of LEAN and 5S

The origin of LEAN, a method used to identify and eliminate waste from a process, dates to the 1930s when Toyota pioneered a unique process improvement effort at its manufacturing plants. Today, you’ll find LEAN advocates in almost every industry, including facility management.

LEAN’s “5S methodology” analyzes a company’s workflow and product usage and wages war on waste. The 5S acronym mirrors Japanese terms that begin with the letter "S” and represent five easy-to-understand tenets:

  • Sort (Seiri). Eliminate unnecessary products or process steps to simplify and improve productivity.
  • Set in order (Seiton). Make sure everything needed to do the job is easy to find and access and easy to put away.
  • Shine (Seiso). Be purposeful in cleaning to remove dirt and clutter and realize the benefits of a clean workplace.
  • Standardize (Sekietsu). Use training, tools and visuals, so employees know what’s required to maintain a clean facility.
  • Sustain (Shitsuke). Make the 5S way of cleaning a habit, so progress doesn’t deteriorate.

How wasted minutes add up

Businesses that adopt LEAN and 5S save money and increase productivity and efficiency. Employee morale often improves, as well, as being productive and feeling less stressed makes people happier at work.

When a company or department clings to its “we’ve always done it this way” mindset, there’s no impetus to improve processes, recoup lost time or banish inefficiencies—and these timewasters add up, as this simple scenario illustrates.

In an employee’s eight-hour workday:

  • Preparing to start work takes 20 minutes.
  • Looking for tools and supplies eats up 15 minutes.
  • Retracing steps takes 30 minutes off the clock.
  • Overly complex work uses up 15 minutes or more.
  • Having to do rework uses 25 minutes.
  • Winding down and putting things away at day’s end uses 20 minutes.

This scenario shows that an employee could lose more than two work hours a day doing nonvalue-added activities. The inefficiency could make the person feel stressed, rushed and forced to take shortcuts to make up for the lost time.

Multiply this example by the number of employees responsible for cleaning a facility, and you can see the power of LEAN’s collective impact.

What LEAN is not

While LEAN may sound like the panacea for what ails commercial property owners and managers, it’s important to point out what LEAN is not.

  • It doesn’t add work. It makes everyone’s jobs simpler.
  • It doesn’t promise perfection. Companies commit to the LEAN journey to remove as many as possible of the nonvalue-added activities.
  • It’s not a secret plan to reduce headcount. It’s about making the employees you have today more valuable.
  • It’s not an inspection, audit or a “gotcha.” It’s a starting point to make meaningful improvements, no matter where your company is today.

Tap the expertise of a Veritiv LEAN advisor

Veritiv uses the LEAN philosophy in our facility solutions, helping customers establish a clear pathway to eliminate wasted processes and products.

Reach out to a Certified LEAN Advisor today to find out what’s involved in a LEAN consultation and facility walk-through.