In manufacturing, waste is defined as any activity that does not add value from a client’s perspective. In contrast, lean production is the term applied to a strategic process that minimises waste while maximising efficiency.
New technology and workflow processes are helping manufacturers produce higher quality products at significantly lower costs - all the while tailoring each item to individual customer requirement.
This is not a mass-produced ‘one size fits all’ approach, nor is it a pure cost-cutting drive.
Similarly, proactive PR companies have realised that lean principles can allow them to remain laser-focussed on the client, while retaining their competitive edge, boosting their green credentials and improving the work-life balance of their employees.
Vanity PR offices not only add very large overheads to a business that ultimately clients have to pay for, but also come with the expectation that all employees must travel into work and be a permanent feature in the office.
It’s nearly 2018 - highly cost-effective, powerful and secure technology exists for teams to work remotely from carefully thought-out home offices. Video conferencing, cloud drives, streamlined press distribution technology, and advanced design platforms add value for PR companies and their clients.
Of course, regular team meetings in person are still crucial, but are made all the more focussed and significant when they take place, especially if they can be combined with a lunch or drinks to become more like team-building occasions.
By working remotely in this way, in-house PR design and writing teams also enjoy balance and trust, while home working opens the door to a more inclusive, equality-driven business.
If managed correctly it can inspire higher levels of loyalty, creativity and dedication - three traits that don’t tend to be forthcoming when someone is burning out and barely seeing their family during the working week.
This leaner way of working is also allowing PR companies to sharpen their focus on their green credentials and sustainability goals - championing the ‘practice what you preach’ message so often discussed with clients.
From the paperless office to a drastic reduction in daily travel emissions thanks to home working, PR companies can use technology to reduce their carbon footprint.
There is a risk for some PR companies with high overheads to dig themselves into a hole of forever justifying price increases, and pressurising team members to be omnipresent in the office.
This model can and should be re-engineered into something altogether more efficient and sustainable that delivers more value for clients and employees.
Roddy Langley is the founder of Lysander PR