5S for Offices

5S is a system to organize a workplace and execute tasks that provides the highest levels of convenience. Typically it involves identifying, storing, maintaining and arranging tools and materials to create a more organized and productive workplace.

5S is the nickname for a series of 5 Japanese words that all begin with S along with their English close translations:

Seiri = sort

Seiton = straighten or set in order

Seiso = shine

Seiketsu = standardize

Shitsuke = sustain

Seiri is the first step and consists of sorting out which tools are needed. It includes removing everything that is not needed in the immediate workspace. The benefits are convenience as employees move about and perform their tasks, preventing accumulation of stray items taking up more and more space and crowding the important and useful items.

Seiton is the next step, arranging the necessary tools. The remaining items in the work area from the Seiri step need to be arranged for ease of finding them. Arrange the items so they are easy to reach. If there is inventory, arrange them in FIFO (first in, first out) order. The benefits of seiton include ease of working since the most needed tools are just within reach, ease and speed in finding less frequently used items that are needed, all leading to a smooth workflow.

Seiso comes next, cleaning and sweeping the entire work area which should be free of excess “stuff” at this point. It includes polishing and scrubbing the tools that are left in the work area and fixing anything that needs attention or maintenance.

Seiketsu follows which includes standardizing the work flow to ensure work execution is done in the smoothest and most correct manner. This can take more time as standards, policies and procedures need to be developed, agreed to, implemented and maintained. The benefits include a higher value being placed on important processes, order and consistent results due to a standardized processes.

Shitsue is the final process for 5S, where everyone is involved in ensuring the first four steps are sustained and followed. All the benefits listed above can be degraded if the 5S process is only a once-in-a-while exercise and between exercises mounds of stuff keep accumulating and growing and things are out of place and can not be found quickly.

The value of the 5S process is not limited to manufacturing where I was initially certified in it. The process can transform any organization, any workflow, any area or any desk. Let me know if you would like help in implementing 5S in your organization, or just your desk. Call for an appointment 931-456-4910.