What is the Value of a Clean Work Space?

    One factor of working in a industry that is paid by the hour (generally) is “What is the value of your time”? Realize that this is different around the country depending on your region and demographic. But I do believe everyone can agree time is valuable and something, once gone, can’t be retrieved. There are many thing that influence the value of time. The quality and ability of the person on the task first and foremost. The tools being used for the job at hand, the classic “right tool for the job”. You can use a crescent wrench and a wood block to pound in a bearing. A hammer would be a better choice. A bearing press would be the proper tool for the job but all can get it done. All have advantages and disadvantages. The wood block might not put the bearing in straight or damage the hub shell. The bearing press is expensive but is less likely to damage parts. But what about the space the work is being done? If the workshop is untidy and tools are all over the place, finding the right tool might be a challenge and time consuming. I can’t find the hammer and I have a crescent wrench handy. Tools being “in their place” and easy to locate and implement is a big time saver. Something as simple as a tire lever can (if not readily available) be a big problem. Digging through a nasty bench full of tools and a full days worth of used broken parts (or 3 days worth) to find a plastic tire lever to do a 10 dollar repair (tube change) can waste valuable minutes.

Where is that tire lever?

These minutes add up to dollars wasted in time lost. That profitable repair just ended up taking you 25 minutes had you just had the tool ready for the task. This doesn’t even consider the floor of your workshop. How can a clean floor make you money? By saving you time. Everybody drops stuff. Some people (like myself) more than others. But if there are 6 weeks of cable end caps and valve caps not to mention dirt from repairs and who knows what else on the floor this is where things get dicey. You drop one of the drive rings on the DT Swiss hub you are doing an overhaul on, or even worse (and smaller) a pawl spring off that sweet Mavic wheel. Once the shock of realizing you dropped it is over you begin the frantic search. Sometimes I swear this is the ONLY time some shops will clean the floor at all. But the search continues and time passes, dollars of profit on the simple repair slowly shrink. After 2 hours and a now clean floor you found all kinds of things you didn’t know you lost but not the spring you will now be replacing out of stock for $125. Whoa??!! You say a Mavic pawl spring doesn’t cost $125. It does now if you charge $60 and hour for your labor (which you lost looking) and that is if only 1 employee was looking for it. Lets not even talk about if you didn’t have it in stock and have to tell the customer you lost it and have to order it. Oh dear God. But lets consider a clean work space in this scenario.


You take 30 minutes a day to clean your space, organize and clean your tools. Because of this time spent cleaning you found the pawl spring in under a minute and moved on with the repair. Once the repair is done the customer walks into a clean and tidy space that looks less like a war zone and more like you care about where you spend your time. It is proven in workplace studies that a clean work area is more efficient than a dirty one. Time is money they say and this is an easy way to save time in the long run. It saves steps and makes the process of repair smoother and more efficient.  Probably the biggest advantage to a clean work space is the reduction in stress of actually working in the space. You begin the day with a clean slate of space to make money. So what is the value of a clean work space? The next time you drop something start a timer and begin the search. Next time you look for the air nozzle for the compressor think about how many times you have looked for it in the past year and how much time you spent. Looking for anything that is not in its place is a waste of time and money. Stop wasting time and money in a dirty space.