As you may have seen in previous blog entries, 5S is a process of sorting and standardizing virtually any space – whether it is a kitchen pantry or a corporate office. As 5S experts, the team at Organizers Northwest is always looking for new ways to integrate 5S and Lean Office into our organizing projects. In this blog entry, we will show you how to apply 5S in your own office space.
The systematic approach to 5S, which is Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, is what makes 5S unique. By following these steps, you will be able to transform any space in your home or office into a highly organized machine that anyone will be able to navigate and keep tidy. Whether it’s your teenage daughter or your co-worker who borrows but doesn’t put back (is there a difference, really?), your new office space will be so logical, everyone will know how it works. And the best part? Your productivity will benefit tenfold when you are working in an organized and fully functional space.
Step 1: Sort
Before getting started, be sure that you have an adequate staging area for sorting out your office items. It doesn’t have to be huge, but at least a 5’x 5’ area is best. Also, grab some bins for sorting, sticky notes, a sharpie and a few garbage bags for trash and recycling. Begin with one drawer or cabinet at a time, e.g., your top desk drawer. Pull everything out and place it in the staging area. Next, walk yourself through each item and ask yourself these questions:
- Does this item have a function in the area? If not, does it have a function in another area? Where?
- How often is this item used?
- If I remove this item, will it really matter?
- How many are needed in the area? (ie: do you really need 73 pens in your top desk drawer?)
Put ‘like’ items together, trash in the trash bag, items to give away in a container, etc. Use the sticky notes to label piles of things to go elsewhere. Continue on to the next drawer or cupboard before putting anything back. The concept is to consolidate all office items and to be purposeful about where things get to live. If you put things back before you complete the process, you will not be making decisions based on the whole picture.
Step 2: Set in Order
Once you have reviewed and sorted each area, you are ready to set in order. If you have asked yourself the question of “how often is this item used”, you will already have a good idea about where it deserves to live. The stamps and office supplies, for example, which hitherto may have lived on the other side of the room and which you are constantly walking back and forth to retrieve, could go in a middle drawer or cupboard with easy access to the desk. The CDs and audiobooks that you reference rarely can now go across the room where the office supplies were. Once you know where things will live, go to step 3 before you place them there.
Step 3: Shine
Take a cloth, some spray cleaner and go to town. It will feel great having everything smell clean and fresh, and will give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have truly touched every corner of your office. When you are done, put everything in its new home.
Step 4: Standardize
This is the part of the 5S process where you create guidelines about how to keep the workplace running as a visual factory. According to 5S practices, the motto of standardize is “If you can’t see, you don’t know, and if you don’t know, you can’t control.”
Essentially, this means creating a system based on visual cues that signal anyone who enters the space as to where things belong. A simple example would be a box labeled “Ink Cartridges”; now you and everyone who uses the space knows where to find them, and when you are running low.
In a corporate office, this might take the form of a photo on the back of a cupboard door which captures exactly what is supposed to live in that area. When this step is done correctly, the space maintains itself beautifully. If you find down the road that your 5S Organization does not work, this is the step that you need to come back to and revise in order to make all of your hard work maintainable into the future.
Step 5: Sustain
This step involves communication and education between yourself and others on how the new office area will function – what purpose it will be used for moving forward? In a large office area, this responsibility would be shared among all those who use the space.
We wish you the best of luck 5S-ing your office space!
We promise you the rewards of creating a visual workspace will increase productivity, decrease waste and give you immense satisfaction in your work, whether at home or in the office. Happy Organizing!