Hello, this is Hayashi from the Marketing Department.

The other day I saw a jazz bar near our house was looking for a new manager. The requirements for the job were:

  • Must be able to cook (including making drinks and cocktails)
  • Must be able to serve customers
  • Must be able to operate the sound system for live music
  • Must be able to manage purchases and sales
  • English speaking (if possible)

A fairly high level of skill is required, and if you’re wondering about salary, it is to be subcontracted. In essence, this is the same as a commission system.

I had mixed feelings when I saw this job opening because the previous manager of this restaurant was an acquaintance of mine, and I knew that he quit because it was too hard for him to handle the one-man operation (and the commission-based salary), in which he was responsible for preparation, cooking, customer service, sound, sales management, etc. all by himself.

This type of solo operator work has been widely covered by the mass media as a social problem. As a result, the situation has improved at major chains, but it seems that many people are still affected by so-called “one-ops”, both at work and at home.

This paper describes the problem of solo operators, and the division of labor as a remedy for this problem.

Problems with Solo Operators

In my previous blog I discussed multitasking, but the term “one-op” has the nuance of requiring a single person to do everything, even more than multitasking. The term “one-op” is short for “one-person operation”, but in any case, the biggest problem with one-ops is that

  • it places too much of a burden on the person performing the task.

For example, at a restaurant chain that has been widely reported in the mass media, it was common practice for one employee to perform all the tasks, including preparing food, cooking, serving customers, and cleaning. The chain also had problems with employees working long hours and being overworked due to continuous work hours, and even late-night robberies were common due to the fact that there was only one employee in the restaurant late at night.

Incidentally, the terms “one-operator childcare” and “one-operator nursing care” were coined because the situation is similar to one-operator work at a restaurant, where everything has to be done by oneself and there is no one around to ask for help.

In any case, when the burden is concentrated on one person in such a situation, the mind and body of the person involved will be exhausted. In severe cases, it may become difficult to continue work or daily life. The only way to prevent burnout caused by such one-ops is to distribute the load.

The restaurant chain mentioned above finally decided to abolish the one-operator system after the tragic death of an employee due to overwork. As this example shows, the only way to avoid the different risks that come with a one-operator arrangement is to hire more people.

  • Do everything alone
  • Several people share the role and work together

Comparing the two, it is obvious which can work more efficiently. Even so, there are probably costs and other issues behind the inability to increase the number of employees. However, if one-operator businesses are built upon one employee being forced to do too much, it is inevitable that the employee retention rate will be low and that it will be difficult to secure personnel. Considering these points, one-operator systems are probably not a positive thing for a company.

The Solution: Division of Labor

On a different note, I used to work at a facility called Type B Employment Support, where I worked in support of people with disabilities.

At the facility where I worked, people with intellectual disabilities mainly did a variety of jobs for rehabilitation and social training. Most of the work was simple tasks, such as sealing envelopes for direct mail or putting disposable chopsticks into bags, but the division of labor was inevitably divided according to the abilities of the workers.

For example, in the mail sealing process each person piles up the flyers they have received, such as A flyers, B flyers, and C flyers, and passes them to the next person. After that, there is a person who is in charge of aligning the flyers and sealing them in envelopes with sellotape.

Of these tasks, piling up flyers is one that can be done by relatively anyone, so many people are assigned to this task. In contrast, the number of people who can arrange flyers and place them in envelopes is small, and when it comes to those who can seal them properly with sellotape, only two people out of several dozen can do so.

Now that I think about it, the way work is carried out at this facility seems to reveal the advantages and disadvantages of the division of labor.

The reason for the division of labor in the above facilities is the difference in the abilities of the personnel. By adopting the division of labor, those who can only perform a limited number of tasks can participate in the work, and this allows those who can perform more advanced tasks (such as sealing and taping) to concentrate on the work in question. And these things ultimately made the work more efficient and improved productivity.

This is not limited to employment support facilities for people with disabilities, but as companies and stores grow in size it becomes impossible for a solo operator to handle everything on their own. In the case of a company, it is common to divide the workload by assigning a specialized person in charge of accounting, sales, and so on. In some cases, non-core operations other than the company’s main operations may be outsourced (BPO). Such a division of labor has the following advantage.

  • By separating operations into specialized areas, each person is able to focus more on their own work

This is an important point for the growth of a company

Disadvantages of Division of Labor

On the other hand, there are disadvantages that arise from the increasing division of labor.

As a matter of course, the division of labor requires the appropriate number of personnel. If you simply do not have enough staff, you may be able to solve the problem by outsourcing the work as described in the above section. If you do not have the budget to increase the number of staff, you can implement RPA tools or other tools by looking for areas in your business that can be automated.

Another disadvantage is that in an organization with an advanced division of labor and specialization, it is easier for work to become dependent on an individual. In the example of the above-mentioned mailing work, the process of sealing envelopes with sellotape can only be done by a certain person. If this happens, there is a possibility that the person in charge will not be able to proceed with the work if they are absent, so it is important to do something about it.

In addition, the following are some of the negative effects of the division of duties.

  • You lose track of what the rest of the team is doing.
  • It becomes difficult to get a complete picture of the business

These are the disadvantages of having operations closed to the team (or individual).

Visualization and Transparency with Questetra BPM Suite

One solution to the disadvantages mentioned in the section above is to open up operations and their processes.

This is where software such as workflow systems and BPM tools come in handy.

Questetra BPM Suite is a BPM tool that makes it easy to visualize and open business processes. You can easily create workflow diagrams (i.e. visualization of business processes) on your PC, and automatically proceed with your business according to the diagrams.

The disadvantages of the division of labor can be greatly reduced if the flow of work and procedures can be opened up, and who is doing what, when, and how they are doing it can be seen at a glance. Another feature of Questetra BPM Suite is that it is easy to change and share business processes, as well as to integrate with other software such as RPA tools.

Finally

Recently, the opening of an AI-based unmanned convenience store in Japan has been in the news, and the evolution of AI and RPA is likely to lead to the automation of not only one-operator businesses, but also a wide range of unmanned operations. For now, however, the shortcut to greater operational efficiency is to review business processes and personnel assignments, and steadily improve wasteful and unnecessary systems in your business operations.

Why don’t you take this opportunity to visualize your business processes with Questetra BPM Suite and review the waste and inefficiency in your business? Questetra BPM Suite is a cloud-based system that can be used immediately after application. A free trial is also available.

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