The nature of ‘work’

This month’s issue is about the nature of work. In the lead article, columnist Mark Corrigan shares his insights about different approaches to project management. Also in the issue, we have a couple of great articles about funding opportunities. Government funding columnist Elliot Schiller discusses government grants aimed at helping small- to mid-sized companies reduce their carbon footprint. If you are looking at updating your facilities and/or equipment, this article is definitely of interest. It is not uncommon for new equipment to be a more eco-friendly solution, and so why not investigate if you qualify? If, on the other hand, you are seeing a slowdown in business, Bonny Koabel has an article about receiving assistance for a work-sharing program. Work sharing is an opportunity to avoid layoffs by having employees share available work. If you are accepted into the program, the government helps cover the non-working days of the week for your staff (through employment insurance). Certainly in cases of either production increases or slowdowns, the nature of “work” is important to think about.

We focus back on project management – a fairly new discipline in management science, especially when compared to a topic like operations, which has long been the cornerstone of efficiency-building in production. As manufacturers, printers understand the importance of reducing waste, increasing machine speeds, reducing down time and other such metrics. Not until recently however, have we really started to look at how we fulfill our work “off the line”. Reaching back as recently as ten years ago, roles in printing often included sales, customer service and then straight into production. Today, the nature of the customer service roles is rapidly changing, with companies often hiring what they call “super-CSRs”. Technology has allowed us to change the nature of tasks like quoting, estimating and proof output. It is not uncommon today for a repeat order to skip sales and go directly to a CSR. That CSR can also take up components of production by launching proofing tickets for initial client proofs.

Think about the value of that customer service role in your facility. It has certainly evolved along with technology. It is a much more integrated role. I would suggest that these “super” people and their managers would really benefit from reading this month’s issue. Changing the nature of how they do their work can be very impactful for the rest of the company, and more importantly, for your clients.