Thinking of hiring more staff for your busy office? Before you do, take a good look at your front desk operations. There may be significant opportunities to improve workflow without increasing staff.
When examining office workflow, it helps to ask who, what, and how—or, more specifically:
- Who is performing the job?
- What does the job require?
- How is the job being performed?
Here are some ideas that I’ve found helpful in working with clients to improve front desk operations:
Talk to all staff members
Are they happy in their current roles? Do they have the skills to perform their assigned responsibilities? One employee I worked with really did not have the skills or desire to work as a receptionist—but when we moved her to a pre-certification position, it worked wonders both for her own job satisfaction as well as for the office workflow.
Take workspace into account
Is there sufficient workspace for the tasks required for a given role? Is there enough room without being cramped? Are there noise considerations that would help solve workspace issues? In considering workspace, we discovered that one employee had difficulty hearing phone calls due to surrounding commotion. By moving her work station around the corner to a segregated spot, she was able to function much better (and the callers heard much less background noise).
Can jobs be split or revised to improve efficiency? Sometimes it helps to ask the front office staff for input on how responsibilities could be rearranged. Other times they might have to see it to believe it. In one instance, I took four front office people and divided their responsibilities so each staff member could focus on one area of service. One person answered and routed all calls (while sorting mail and faxes), one person scheduled all of the appointments, one was assigned to check patients in, and one was assigned to check them out. When I first proposed this change, these staff members told me it would never work because it was way too busy at the front. However, when they gave it a try, they were surprised to find that they were able to handle all calls promptly and not keep patients waiting to check in or to make appointments. And, because each of them knew how to perform all of the tasks, they were able to alternate responsibilities every month for some variety.
Of course, there will be times when the best course of action will be to hire more staff—but it can’t hurt to step back first and look for opportunities to improve front office workflow.
Image credit: lisafx www.fotosearch.com