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How to Get More from Your Floor

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Find out how shop-floor efficiency can carry your business toward increased profitability.

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By Rick Mandel

Generation Y or Millennial is birthdays in 1983-2002. One of the most frequently reported characteristics of this generation is their comfort with technology. In general, Generation Y shares many of the characteristics of Xers. They are purported to value teamwork and collective action and are adaptable to change, though less process focused. Xers use technology, and the Yers assume technology.

The Boomers like to be face to face, use the phone, and have adapted to e-mail. Xers tend to use technology, but the Yers will text or e-mail you, even if you are sitting right next door. Face-to-face communication skills are not their best attribute. Generation X likes a casual and friendly work environment, while the Y Generation prefers support and structure. X and Y tend to be more individualistic (hide behind the computer screen) where the Boomers can be easily drawn out for collaboration.

This takes us back to cube or open spaces. Researching the general thoughts of architects and developers, I found the following perceptions:

On the negative side of cubicles:
• They stifle creativity.
• They are bland and uninspiring.
• They are demeaning to humans.
• They don’t promote interaction.

For the promoters of cubicles or personal space:
• They provide individual space.
• More space for shelves and manuals
• Wall space for posting diagrams and other documentation
• Easier to concentrate
• Less distraction

Other comments elaborate on lack of a private conversation area and the need for personal space. A layout design that allows for multiple conference rooms may be the solution for private conversations and quiet, personal phone calls, and just a place to get away from the buzz.

A flexible environment that can be modified easily is a must. The overriding focus is to keep everyone close and engaged in each project. The experts on workplace efficiency and environment agree to disagree. The topic of open space or offices will continue with the different flavors of lean manufacturing and changes in technology.

The human element and personalities need to be addressed, as well as the culture of each individual company. Generational characteristics of the operators are part of the fabric of the company culture. Does your company produce similar parts and pieces every day, or are you a custom-graphics provider that requires constant interaction? The floor plan will take shape once you identify who you are and what you want to be. If you do choose an open concept, allow for locations where employees can get away, think, and create in silence.


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