Think outside the box. Instead of working 9-5 only, by starting to work in more than one shifts daily we can get lots of benefits!
Everywhere round the world if businesses do good, the governments take credit. Yes, the governments don’t do business, but they facilitate the same. Instead of directly making or selling things the governments supports businesses doing so. They pass legislations, make policies and provide businesses a conducive and friendly environment that helps businesses thrive in their respective fields. Additionally, the government makes the overall process of starting, establishing, operating and expanding a business simple, easy, practical and cost effective. This encourages entrepreneurs to start new businesses and existing businesses to expand. It also helps businesses focus on their core business activities rather than running around fulfilling complex, and at times costly, regulatory and legal obligations.
One must be clear that the fundamental objective of running a business is making profit. Weather it’s a self-employed professional offering goods or professional services, small family run business, a cottage industry employing few people or huge multinational enterprises operating globally with big industrial setups and employing thousands of individuals and/or other businesses, they all need to make profit. And while making profit businesses contribute to the society and economy too. A successful business helps capital accumulation, helps the financial sector by borrowing and depositing, helps the economy by increasing GDP and offering employment, helps the government by paying taxes, helps by bringing in new technologies, products and services to the country, helps by providing good training opportunities for the students, and so on. On the other hand, a business running in loss neither can sustain itself nor can it generate any employment or can make a significant contribution to the society or economy. That is why supporting businesses is in the interest of governments and they do so by making business friendly policies, offering them tax incentives, acknowledging successful businesses and their executives with awards and privileges etc.
Weather it is government in its support role or business in its profit focus lead role they both need capital investment to establish the infrastructure for doing what they do. And the cost per unit of this capital infrastructure will be less if it is utilized more. That is why we have seen factories working round the clock to increase production, to minimize per unit capital investment cost thereby to maximize the profits. However, we don’t see the same approach on the government side as well as on the businesses that do not directly manufacture. Question is why not?
Let’s now talk in numbers.
Most businesses or departments of businesses other than manufacturing concern, with some exceptions, follow certain working hours which generally are based on an 8-hour work day. Depending on the nature of business and/or industry they may start somewhere between 7-10 and may finish accordingly. So, the office premises and its facilities (furniture, machinery and equipment such as computers, printers, telephones, faxes, lights, fans etc.) are utilized only for 8 hours a day and remain unutilized for other 16 hours each day. That excludes weekends when these facilities and accessories remain unutilized for almost full 48 hours. So, every week office infrastructure is utilized only for 40 hours out of total 168 hours i.e. utilization rate is only 24%. Everything has a cost, and at a utilization rate of only 24% cost of operation is significantly higher which off course adds to cost of doing business which in turn increases the cost of products and/or service being produced/sold or provided.
Mind you these are not living things, they don’t get tired. Yes, with more utilization there would be more wear and tear and may require more maintenance, but that cost is not even comparable to buying new. Other than needed for necessary maintenance, we don’t let airplanes remain parked in the hangers for days, we don’t give railway engines a break, we don’t give time to our automobiles to sleep and almost same is applicable on other industrial and business machines.
All above is also applicable to government offices as well. Since government is more of a service industry and almost never manufacture things so almost all their offices, with some exceptions, have a similar utilization ratio. So, government is currently spending more in providing same services. Also due to limited working hours the delivery time of these services to individuals as well as businesses is long. If the turn around time of government services and approval can be shortened not only will it help individuals as they will get their passports, ID Cards, permits, etc. more quickly, it will help businesses and they will get their permits, approvals, assessments processed in shorter time again reducing their costs, and will help them in being successful.
Now the question here is how the production times, turnaround times of government services can be reduced. Also, how this utilization ratio can be increased and cost per utilization can be decreased. The answer is simple; by increasing the usage. i.e. by increasing the time these premises and facilities are used for. One limitation in doing the same is that labor laws, and for good reasons, do not allow working shift of more than 8 hours. Hence the only solution is by adding more working sifts. Why the same office premises and facilities can not be used for a second or even a third shift?
Suggestion here is that instead of extending working hours of the current employees, government and businesses to start operating more than one shifts at same premises. For example, shift # 1 (morning shift) can be from 7 am to 3 pm and shift # 2 (evening shift) can be from 4 pm till 12 mid night. Same concept was tried for elementary and middle schools back in 1970s and we noticed that without incurring a huge setup cost, within a very short period, school capacities got almost doubled. And the same practice is still being followed in the educational sector providing students more opportunities at their time of convenience. Also call centers are another good example of good resource utilization and operating more than one shifts. Are not we happy that we can call tech support of various tech companies almost round the clock?
Why can’t the same model be utilized for businesses and government offices as well? If planned and executed correctly the benefits of operating more than one shift can be multi-faceted, such as:
- Utilization ratio of office premises and facilities will increase
- Cost per unit product or service will decrease
- More production
- Less overtime payment
- Less stressful employees as they don’t need to do overtime
- Less number of costly mistakes
- More profits
- Cheaper products and services
- Quicker delivery of government services
- Ease of access to government services
- Less cost of getting government services
- More employment opportunities
- Can offer more services
- Can offer services quicker
- More employment
- More taxes
- More evenly distributed load on government offices
- Less political unrest
- To be able to fulfill their election promise of creating more jobs
- More appreciation
For other infrastructure
- More support and maintenance work opportunities
- Round the clock transport need hence more opportunities
- More evenly distributed load on shopping centers
- More evenly distributed load shopping Transport
To achieve the above, the government need to take following measures:
- Pass and implement necessary legislations for all government and private organizations to start operating at least two shifts
- Adjust official working hours for two shifts
- Implement two shift model in all government offices
- Offer incentives to private businesses to who start second shift
- Provide a safe and secure work environment for employees returning late from work
I hope policy and decision makers are reading.
November 08, 2019
The writer is a professional marketer and engineer with good work exposure to governments, and businesses and industries in the private sector in several countries. Idea is to take the first step in adding value to anything that one gets exposed to instead of just complaining about the same.