Hybrid work and the lean office

Image credit: Rodeo Project Management Software on Unsplash

Batten down the hatches.

If it wasn’t clear to me before, it is now. I recently read the Eighty20 findings fromThe South African Credit Stress Report. I followed that with their latest analysis of Covid’s Impact on The South African Economy & Workforce. Sobering.

With Covid recovery, consumer inflation accelerating much faster than expected, and the current eye-watering petrol price, everyone is feeling the pinch. Add to that the catastrophic events in the northern hemisphere which are already impacting us.

An excerpt from Eighty20’s report showing levels of stress and lost productivity on different demographics

The petrol price especially is driving more disdain for the commute (excuse the pun), making hybrid working, and even permanent working from home, more attractive. Business travel too is sure to be affected, with virtual meetings holding a stronger sway in these times of scarcity.

This is a time of austerity, but it can also be a time of abundance where it counts.

I’m sure you’ve come across, and might already be practicing, lean thinking in your business.

The term has been around for many years; in its early days associated with Toyota’s production system and lean manufacturing, and now been applied to almost every industry. I was particularly inspired by Eric Ries’s bestseller, The Lean Startup, where I learned about Minimum Viable Products (MVP’s) and started to apply them in my own work.

“Lean thinking is a transformational framework that aims to provide a new way to think about how to organise human activities to deliver more benefits to society and value to individuals while eliminating waste.”

- Wikipedia

Put another way, by the great architect and designer, Mies van der Rohe:

“Less is more.”

Lean thinking is essentially about doing more with less. It generally takes MORE WORK UPFRONT, not less, to bring those philosophies to life. To make those decisions.

  • What to eliminate? What’s not important?
  • What’s holding us back? What’s slowing us down?
  • What IS important to us and what do we need to pay attention to, and invest in? What are our priorities?

Workplaces would do well to have this same rigour applied.

  • What do we no longer need here? For a start — do we still need a desk per person?
  • Do we need to supply a gym when there’s a great one up the road? Do we need to supply a café when there’s a great one up the road? Do we need something else now?
  • Do we need an office at all?
  • And if so, what’s the most important thing about our offices that we need to keep, and nurture?

These are not simple yes-no decisions! And they are best answered through considered exploration and discussion.

It’s about understanding the basic components that your organisation needs to thrive, and building on these to set up for long term resilience. Abundance in the right places.


Could your organisation use a hand in exploring your own workplace MVP? Connect with us for more info on our workshops.

Please note: We’re not Lean experts. But we have interpreted the thinking in a way that works for our work.




people | media | environment | design http://georgiechennells.com/

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Georgie Chennells

Georgie Chennells

people | media | environment | design http://georgiechennells.com/

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