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Dirty Jobs

Dirty Jobs

How to eliminate dirty jobs at work

What is a dirty job?  If you’re a Discovery Channel binge watcher, you may say it’s like jobs that host Mike Rowe does. He goes from job to job, literally getting dirty in areas of work that many of us can only imagine – and most of the “dirty” is not simple dirt.

What would be a dirty job at your workplace? Is it the task you simply hate to do because it’s no fun or boring? It’s said that Mr. Rowe tackles the “difficult, strange, disgusting or messy” duties of the job. Is it possible that some of your own job duties in the office, or elsewhere, qualify as a “dirty job”?

Having dirty jobs at work is a form of waste.  Operations typically defines waste as “something that adds no value” – it’s something that you’re doing in 15 steps when you could do them in 5, or something your customer does not get value out of you doing. It could be something where you’re “cleaning up” someone else’s work (aka mess) or having to get 5 signatures for a document that no one reads.

The following is a short list of ways to eliminate or reduce your dirty jobs at work. This doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time, perseverance, and most of all, a wry humor or at least a positive attitude (because, come on, you are getting your hands dirty!).

Try these at your own pace. If you find another way – let us know!

1-    Find the biggest bugs – How do you spend your day? Your week? (and honestly.. it doesn’t work if you don’t do this exercise honestly).

  1. Do you spend 3 hours a day chasing people down? Write it down.
  2. Do you end up at your computer half the day? Or more? What do you do? Email, projects, rework? Break them up.
  3. Find the patterns. Try finding the biggest sources of the dirty and wasteful processes using a pareto chart or 80/20 assessment

2-    Don’t take my word for it – ask! Ask others for feedback or viewpoints on how they would do it – bonus points for asking people OUTSIDE of your department – those with a different perspective – that have no idea what your task is, and can give a fresh opinion.

  1. This is one of the basis of a kaizen – a process improvement technique that looks to OTHER’s perspective. It’s a way to remove the “forest for the trees” – to help you find what you’re missing because you see it every day

3-    Standardize and streamline. Ok – this one sounds like the most boring of all… but it’s one of the most useful, I promise! In many cases, the task is being repeated in some way. Is it being done by different people? At different times? Are you doing it the same way? The more movement you have, the more “moving pieces” – the dirtier that job is. Look at ways that you can do it the same. Every time.

4-    Keep looking. There are many ways to eliminate dirty work. The search is never really over, but you can always improve – even incrementally. To learn more to eliminate the dirty work in your organization, email us at info@squarepegsolutions.org

Now that you have all that time on your hands… those minutes and hours you now can be doing something you want to do for the company.. what will you do with it?

Note: Some content from the initial “Dirty jobs” post.