Office operations play a significant role in organizational performance; however, their contribution to competitive advantage has not adequately been addressed in the literature. In this study, we develop a methodology for designing an efficient office operation using axiomatic design principles. Axiomatic design allows the use of well-understood patterns of all necessary information when formalizing design objectives. We use these principles to design office cells, and claim that this methodology will improve office operations and contribute to business competitiveness through a reduction in customer lead time. We provide a detailed description of the methodology applied to office cell design, which consists of cell formation and operation, as well as the results of a real-world implementation. Our findings indicate that the methodology works well in improving office operations because it eliminates many non-value-added activities. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.