What is your approach to “walking” in standardized work?
Is it a “waste”?
Not so easy.
Why? Because “sitting” is unhealthy. “Standing” is painful. “Walking” might be the healthiest method for humans.
And, to all those managers who resist “Genba walk,” here’s another reason you should do it more often.
When we were implementing standardized work in a factory, my coach made an interesting comment.
“We should add some walking here.”
It confused us. Why are we adding “waste”?
Many articles suggest that sitting for long hours might be bad for health.
There are some countermeasures in these articles. For example, take a break every thirty minutes. While such a solution might work for some offices, it is challenging to implement such a policy for factories. It is easier to have no seats inside a factory.
But then, is “Standing” good?
Standing in one position is wrong for the same reason as sitting. Any one-posture work will accumulate some harm. It is better for our body to be moving. Besides, it is impossible to stand for a long time. I used to commute by train for two hours in Tokyo. It was impossible to stand like that. I typically got off at earlier stations and walked. I could not stand.
But this creates a consequence.
When we develop a standardized work, we eliminate wasted motion. One such motion is walking. Walking to get parts. Walking toward the machine or product. Walking back to the starting point. Walking is a target of Kaizen. If so, is the ideal state to stand at one position?
No is my coach’s answer.
It is better to walk.
Is there a guideline on how much to walk? No, there is none. Science hasn’t given us an answer. It ranges from 2,000 steps to whatever. If it is 2000, that’s roughly four steps per minute [2000/8 Hours/60 minutes]. Of course, that’s not definite, but something to keep in mind.
I know some will say, “People sit or stand at work. They do the exercise when they go back home.” But I have no intention to control what workers do in their personal life. They should be allowed to do whatever they want, not necessarily forced to exercise, since the work environment is poorly designed. The work environment should be as healthy as possible.
This means we need to rethink the ergonomics. For example, many ergonomics examples are based on sitting or standing. I might intentionally violate some principles and place the material outside the comfortable range. This way, I create one walk. That walk is necessary for health. And we should use this walk for better purposes. For example, place the materials to guide the steps of standardized work and walk.
We need to think more about good and bad walks.
This applies to the office, too. Stop and go to genba when the meeting lasts over thirty minutes. It’s healthy. Whatever the contents of the meeting, walking the reality will bring back fresh insights. As a question pops up, go to genba. Thinking can be done as we walk. Genba walk doesn’t have to be formal. Instead, it is better to do it frequently with some purpose. Genba walk is full of positives.
Please don’t eliminate all walks. It’s better to have some.