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Amid the increasingly concerning COVID-19 outbreak, universities and businesses are setting about making the transition to home working for the foreseeable; an eventuality the University of St Andrews has been preparing for behind the scenes since January and one which was officially adopted last week.

Working from home (WFH) is undoubtedly easier for some than others. For us here at SALC, remote working is well-engrained given the amount of time our Managing Director Mark spends away travelling and working with clients across the world and our need to effectively coordinate during those periods. However, for the many of our clients in the tertiary sector and elsewhere, the habits around remote working will not necessarily be engrained, with virtual seminars for example undoubtedly being a novel experience for many staff members and students alike.

For many this transition will come with some common challenges, as encapsulated by the Hubspot blog article gloomily – and sadly now rather counterintuitively – titled 7 Deadly Disadvantages of Working from Home and how to Counter Them. The list goes:

· A lack of community and differences in culture

· Difficult or lacking communication

· Low reliability and retention

· Difficulty managing and maintaining accountability

· Issues with payment and logistics

· Loss of productivity

· Security concerns

So, is there any way the ever-valiant Lean methodology could be deployed to counter this doom and gloom? And could there in fact be some advantages here?

I think the first facet of Lean thinking to mention here, although hopefully a concept that transcends Lean, especially over the coming weeks and months, is Respect for People. Employees across the country are being asked to make huge changes in their lifestyles in having to set up home offices and care for children alongside, and, as our interpretation of this Toyota Manufacturing-derived Lean fundamental goes, it is the individual employee who will know how best to make those fundamental adaptions to their lifestyles and it is this ‘people-centric’ approach which avoids some of the micromanaging and resulting animosity I spotted on LinkedIn earlier this week.

A great place to start and going forwards we will be posting further WFH-related Lean blogs featuring a new Lean tool or idea.

In the meantime, get in touch if you would like advice on your transition to home working a Lean one. As mentioned, we have heaps of experience in this area and are putting together some new strategies that draw upon tech such as  Microsoft Whiteboard. Until then, stay safe and stay home!

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