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Work Design

“Work design” is part of the broader domain of Organization Design. It includes the processes, accountabilities, and technology support of specific tasks and work assignments. This typically includes asking questions like:

  • What are the tasks this job or person will do?

  • What information will this person need?

  • What tools and platforms will make this work easier?

  • Who does this person need to collaborate with to get things done?

  • What are the productivity blockers to this work?

Work design is typically done by observing people doing the work, designing automation tools to deliberately make work easier, and then testing changes, measuring productivity, and getting feedback directly from employees. Many employee listening programs wind up with work-design problems.

A great example is a large healthcare system: the nurses were highly engaged but frustrated with their personal productivity and work overload. After studying their work environment the HR team found out that a certain cabinet in each hospital room was awkwardly designed and getting in the way of equipment and work the nurses do every day. This physical impediment was having a significant impact on productivity. Only by digging in to the actual work environment could the team find this problem to solve.

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