As part of our initiatives for work style reform, the Kobe Steel Group is promoting the KOBELCO Way of office meetings and email to reduce wasted effort and create time; changes to work rules, such as a general prohibition on overtime after 7:00 pm; and other measures.
What do these time-saving KOBELCO Way skills entail, and what effect have they had?
Read below to learn more about the before and after of our work style reform initiatives.
＜KOBELCO Way Meetings＞
Previously many long meetings were held for the sake of holding meetings, with no clear purpose and only a vague sense of timetables and goals. As part of our work style reform we identified "5 Don'ts," covering items from the previous meeting, and established "5 Dos," to ensure more productive use of time. Improvements such as setting meeting times to 50 minutes standard and 80 minutes at most and writing meeting minutes during meetings have proved successful. We were able to greatly reduce the amount of time spent in meetings.
＜KOBELCO Way Email＞
Email is an integral tool for modern business. However, the amount of effort required to read, write and search for emails is no small matter, with 20-30 percent of working hours being taken up by email-related duties. As part of our work syle reform, we analyzed previous email practices and identified 10 rules to ensure faster, more accurate and more effective use of email. We are now encouraging adoption of these KOBELCO Way email practices throughout the company.
As emails were written off the cuff, main points were often difficult to understand and it was unclear whether or not a response was required.
According to an email from Mr. XXXXX, data needed for materials for the meeting on the 5th will probably be ready sometime next week, but how should we proceed? I'm attaching one more piece of data. Do you have any issues with the graph format or table details? I thought a bar graph might be better than a line graph, but for now I've left it as a line graph. I'd also like to discuss the issue from the other day some time soon. Please get back to me on this.
We established 10 new rules for email such as "create subject lines where content, point, necessity of a reply and timeframe are visible at a glance" and "state conclusions/summaries at the beginning of the email." If these rules lead to just 20 percent more efficiency, they will account for a full 100 hours of time saved each year.
I have two questions, below about creating materials for the meeting on the 5th.
Please reply back to me by October 6.
1) When is the deadline for the materials?
--They're asking if it would be all right to provide one of the pieces of data next week.
2) Concerning the graph in another piece of data (attached), does the line graph look alright to you?
--The bar graph was somewhat difficult to see, which is why I went with a line graph.
＜Changes to Work Rules＞
We implemented new work rules in fiscal 2016, generally prohibiting overtime after 7:00 pm. When work is absolutely required after 7:00 pm, employees must first obtain permission by submitting an overtime application to their managers in advance.
There was awareness of the need to justify overtime. But was overtime truly required in order to keep up with work?
As a result of generally prohibiting overtime after 7:00 pm, previously time-consuming work has become more efficient, and communication with superiors and coworkers has improved. Through better scheduling and planning, we discovered that many tasks could be completed without overtime. In fiscal 2016, employees working overtime after 7:00 pm fell by 6.3 percent over the previous year.
Improving communication is indispensable to our efforts to create time. As part of efforts to improve in-company communication, we are encouraging employees to just use names and drop the use of job titles when communicating with each other over email and in the workplace. While this is only a suggestion rather than a rule, executive officers and managers are taking the initiative to better communication.
We have introduced a work style reform site on our intranet. In addition to surveys on the KOBELCO Way meeting guidelines and the actual state of meetings, it also includes a range of time management techniques, brainstorming ideas, and other tips for more efficient work. We also carry out seminars for activity promotion leaders from each department.
In implementing our work style reform, we invited experienced work style consultants with proven results in a wide variety of corporate and government bodies.
In order to produce and maintain results from our work style reform, we will undertake the following:
Promote initiatives through our organization and management under strong commitments from top leadership.
Proceed with efficiency and effectiveness based not on idealism but rather on the sharing of clear roadmaps and frameworks.
Devise schemes to spread activities and raise morale in order to increase and maintain individual motivation.
The network aims to expand a movement to promote the participation of women in the workplace throughout the Group and to encourage communication and exchange among female employees at Group companies.