The Importance of a 5S Organized Workspace

Tool Shadowboard shows 5S organization

Organization is a critical component of any workplace, helping individuals and businesses to operate in a more productive manner. 5S is a logical approach to organizing an office that provides tangible and psychological benefits by improving efficiency through the five principles of seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain). Developed by the Toyota Motor Company, this organizational practice greatly enhanced manufacturing performance.

Signs a Company Needs 5S Workplace Organization

While any business would benefit from an organized office, there are some clear signs that indicate the need for an organizational overhaul.

  • Increased departmental costs: Overproduction and overstocking may result from lack of organization, causing your company to lose valuable time and money.
  • Lack of consistent quality: Sub-par workplace layout and ergonomics requires excessive time and energy to be spent on accessing necessary tools, equipment, and materials. This causes inconsistencies in operational output and quality.
  • Operational inefficiencies: Poor workspace design, housekeeping issues, and ergonomics may result in failing to meet target outcomes or benchmarks for operational capacity.
  • Customer complaints: When customers are complaining about your products and services, you should take notice. By addressing workplace organization, you will be better situated to address customer issues.
  • Need for improved strategies: When company leaders embrace an organizational philosophy, the initiative becomes a company-wide effort. 

Benefits of 5S Workplace Organization

The 5S system, based on the five visual pillars of an effective workspace, is intended to reduce waste while maximizing productivity through the maintenance of an organized workplace. There are numerous benefits to implementing a 5S system.

  • Organization: Data from the International Data Corporation indicates $2.5 million in lost productivity due to time spent searching for missing documents. The 5S philosophy focuses on accessibility and use of organizational tools to decrease this wasted time.
  • Efficiency: The 5S method encourages eliminating waste by streamlining systems and improving processes through use of organization products. 
  • Storage: Implementation of 5S includes eliminating unnecessary items from the facility, reducing the necessary square footage and clearing space to be used in more effective and productive ways.
  • Safety: Streamlining production, reducing clutter, and addressing ergonomics all lead to improved workplace safety as the functionality of the production environment is upgraded and hazards are eliminated.
  • Morale: An organized environment has psychological benefits such as reducing stress, communicating a sense of professionalism, and encouraging creativity.
  • Cost Savings: Time is money. A Harvard University study showed that people can maintain focus at work for 7.5 minutes longer if they are located in an uncluttered environment. Overall improvements in efficiencies, quality, and safety all result in bottom line improvement.
  • Cleanliness: The 5S system focuses on good housekeeping practices. A clean workplace presents a professional impression, increases employee satisfaction, and reduces absenteeism.
  • Self-Discipline: Employees who are trained in 5S principles develop an enhanced level of self-discipline as they become practiced in daily cleaning and maintaining organizational procedures.
  • Identification of abnormality errors: A workspace with visual organization enables quick and efficient identification of abnormalities such as air leakages, computer issues, machine vibrations, and oil leaks. Material flow problems are also more easily noticeable when the process is streamlined, enabling workers to quickly spot part shortages, excess inventory, or line imbalances.
  • Global Success: 5S implementation helps businesses to grow and compete on a global scale by decreasing expenses due to waste, streamlining organizational processes, improving safety, and increasing workplace morale.

Organization Tools: 

Visual Management Controls

One of the most important aspects of the 5S system is improving visibility of existing problems so that they can be addressed and eliminated.

In a disorganized workspace, excess inventory and work-in-progress cannot be easily distinguished. Standard work processes are difficult to inspect and ensure because all workspaces look different.

With implementation of the 5S system, a process of organization enables quick identification of inventory or production problems. Standard work processes are clearly defined, as all tools and raw materials have assigned places.

A streamlined, pared-down, organized workspace utilizes visual organization tools to cut excess, eliminate problems with disorganization, and allow for easy visual identification of areas that need improvement.

Visual Management Tools: 

Teamwork and Employee Participation

The 5S model provides the tools for workplace organization and increasing efficiency, but it is only effective when there is complete corporate buy-in.

The use of quality circles, groups that focus on quality improvement throughout the organization, are a great way to involve the entire staff. An overall focus on employee morale, personal discipline, and cohesive teamwork are all critically important to making long-term improvements in productivity and efficiency. Management should also make it a point to solicit feedback from all employees to ensure that issues are examined and addressed in the early stages before they become problems.

When employees are involved in all stages of implementation and maintenance of an important initiative, they feel ownership and a sense of belonging, which creates a positive cycle of improvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the examples of 5S?

While Toyota is the flagship example of the 5S model, there are a number of other successful companies that have implemented its tenets. Hewlett-Packard started 5S in its organization as a storage solution. Boeing implemented 5S workplace organization in offices and on its factory floor to simplify its processes. Harley-Davidson streamlined its warehouse locations by implementing lean 5S strategies. All of these companies created an efficient workplace to save money and improve time and safety factors through 5S processes.

How can you apply 5S in your everyday life?

5S processes are not just for the workplace. Anyone can implement the five pillars to organize their personal space.

  1. Sort – Eliminate any unnecessary items, including trash, duplicates, and infrequently used items.
  2. Set in order – Place items according to usefulness, with necessary items easily accessible and less used items stored away.
  3. Shine – Keep things clean every day.
  4. Standardize – Use visual signs and organizational tools to help keep items organized on a daily basis.
  5. Sustain – Create habits to ensure your organizational system works for you on a continual basis.

Whether you are running a business or a personal workspace, the 5S Store at can assist with implementation of 5S principles to help organize and streamline your procedures, increase your productivity, and improve your overall success.

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