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Hajek's Law of Office Work

Many office work areas don’t control the flow of work onto people’s desks. As a result, individuals may face a small pile of work on one day, and a large pile of work the next.

Further complicating the problem, there is frequently no formal standardization of their processes. This makes the pace inconsistent, and it makes work difficult to offload to other employees.

These two factors contribute to form Hajek’s Law of Office Work.

The speed at which an employee works is directly proportional to the size of the pile in front of them.

Employees want to do well, so they hurry to stay caught up. But since they are people, not machines, they can’t keep that increased pace up indefinitely. When they see relief in the form of a smaller pile, they slow down.

There is one exception to this rule. If the pile stays consistently large, the pace will slow down over time. People can’t sprint forever.

This law is countered with daily management. It is also reduced by limiting individual work assignments, meaning multiple team members pull from the same queue rather than having their own accounts.

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  • Georg says:

    Very true – as much as for the production environment. While improving processes in a bank we improved process dramatically simply not letting a credit analyst to have more than 1 credit app at a time.
    In the beginning they would spend 1-8 hours without work, however the process improved substantially: from 2-4 weeks to 1 week.

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