Office Systems and Procedures - Flow of Work | 11th Office Management and Secretaryship : Chapter 7 : Office Systems and Procedures

Chapter: 11th Office Management and Secretaryship : Chapter 7 : Office Systems and Procedures

Flow of Work

Flow of work is concerned with the way work move along with one operation to another.

Flow of Work:

Flow of work is concerned with the way work move along with one operation to another. It denotes the volume of work going through the rate at which it moves along and the smoothness of its passage.


The flow of work aims at greater efficiency in every office activity, so that costs are cut down and delays are eliminated. Flow of work is a problem to be solved by the managers.


Flow charts are prepared for the purpose to know whether the flow of work is ideal or there is scope for improvement. The following types of flow charts can be used for analysis.


a. Office Layout Chart.

This chart analyses the flow of work of each part of office and eliminates waste motion & back tracking. In the chart, lines are drawn to indicate the movement of office forms and documents from operation to operation.


b. Flow Process Chart:

Process chart is also known as work simplification chart. By using certain standard symbols, the chart shows the flow of work under a specific procedure. Presentation and reading is easy because the charts are more graphic with symbols.

It helps to simplify the work. These standard symbols have been developed by the American society of mechanical engineer, New York.


c. Management Type Flow Chart:

Management type flow chart is fully illustrated chart and each operation or steps involved are described in short and descriptive sentence. The chart is written and read horizontally from left to right.


Straight-Line Flow of Work:


Smooth flow of work can be ensured by the use of straight-line flow of work method. This method is applicable for the factory as well as the office. It can be described as the method, in which the work flows, while progressing from one operation to another, it should follow a course approximating as nearly as may be possible in a straight line. In order to avoid the wastage of time, effort and delay in the flow of information, the work must always move forward and in a straight-line.


Benefits of Straight-Line Flow of Work:


The following are the list of benefits of Straight-line flow of work:


1. Greater Speed: The speed of work increases greatly, since the movement of work is over the least area.

2. Lesser Messenger Work: Since the work is flowing in a straight-line, the desks can be arranged in a straight-line, the distance between the different operations is small and the papers or files are passed over from one desk to another by the clerks is easy. It reduces the messenger work.

3. Less Loss of Papers: In this method, papers are rarely mislaid or lost as they are handled in a systematic manner.

4. Use of Conveyors: In certain organization conveyors are used to transfer the files from one place to another, such an arrangement helps to speed up the work.

5. Keeps Executives and Clerks at Their Desks: As the work moves in a straight-line, this method avoids moving here and there unnecessarily and makes the employees to sit in their chair to do the work.


Problems in Smooth Flow of Work:


Smooth flow of work faces number of problems, which must be tackled in order to improve the efficiency of office routine. It can be solved only by the managers. The problems are outlined below:


1. Unequal Flow of Work: The work in the office cannot be equal throughout the day, the week or the year. The work may be heavy on particular day in a week or it may be heavy during a particular period. For example, there may be greater incoming mails in the morning and on Mondays. The problem of unusual flow of work can be solved by collecting relevant statistics and their analysis.

2. Interruptions to Work: The interruptions to work are internal or external. Internal interruption may be caused by lack of materials with which to work, information needed is not available or because of change of work through change of plan, etc. External interruptions to work may be caused by outsiders calling the employees and external telephone calls.

3. Unequal Times Needed for Different Operations: This is the major problem in the flow of work where, different operations of a job need different time to complete. For example, the sequence of operations for the first operation may require one minute, while the next may require three minutes.

4. Lack of Standard: Steady flow of work may also be affected, if the work to be done by an individual that can not equal to the standard fixed. In the absence of standard, some employees may over burden with heavy work while the others may have less work.

5. Lack of Planning and Scheduling: If the office manager does not plan and schedule the work before time, it is not possible to do the work quickly or not to do the work within the allotted time.

6. Faulty Layout: Steady flow of work may be affected if the layout of the office is not made according to a well-developed plan. Criss-crossing and back tracking procedure will affect the flow of work.


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