If your company has implemented a 5S System, chances are you’ve wondered what it is for and if it’s really effective. While most companies do not orient their employees on the 5S purpose, it is important for each worker to know why it is essential in boosting productivity and reducing the overall costs of the company.
What is the 5S System?
The 5S System originated in Japan, specifically in the Toyota Production System. It is a list of 5 words starting with the letter S that will provide a guideline on how to keep the workplace clean and conducive for operations.
In Japanese, those 5 words are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. In other words, they’re sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain, respectively.
The end goal of the 5S system is to ultimately improve the overall business operations. In fact, when the 5S system is consistently practiced, benefits like reduced costs, lower risk of injury, increased productivity, and better employee well-being can be experienced.
Here are the 5 steps in the system for a better understanding of what each employee should do.
The first step is sort which means categorizing and grouping all the things on your desk and cabinets. It’s not as simple as grouping them based on their item category like office supplies, personal items, documents, etc.
The 5S system takes it a step further by asking you to categorize them based on their purpose, frequency of usage, who owns/uses it, and if it really is meant to be there.
In other words, you have to ask yourself when you sort through your things, “What’s the use of this item? Is it even mine? How often do I use this?” and the like. Asking these questions will help you find out which items to group together or which ones to throw away or bring to your own home.
2. Set in Order
The second step is set in order. Here, you’ll actually position things where they are best placed. Based on your answers on the grouped items in step 1, you will have an idea which items stay on your desk or cubicle and which ones are for the common areas.
It’s important that when you do the 5S that you will do it with your team so everyone will be able to decide where the most logical place is for communal items. Keep in mind the overall floor plan of your office when identifying strategic locations.
The next step is shine. This step simply refers to doing a general cleaning of your workspace or your whole office space. This might be a good opportunity for you to consider hiring a commercial cleaning service to ensure that every common area is squeaky clean.
As for your personal work area, it’s important that no dust is in place and everything is in clean working condition. Commercial cleaning services often don’t clean personal areas, so it’s best that you do the cleaning yourself.
By now, the whole workspace should be clean and organized. However, the 5S system does not stop there. Your management would have to create standard operating procedures (SOP) on how and when to do the 5S. This is important to ensure that the exercise you just did above is not just a one-time thing.
Some companies set a regular cleaning period while others incorporate the 5S in the performance evaluations of the employees. There can be a lot of strategies on how to standardize this and it’s up to your management as to how they can be executed.
Lastly, you have to sustain it. In reality, even if there are SOPs on the 5S, it is easy to forget about it or fail to understand what it is for. For this step, it is crucial that managers continuously keep everyone in the office involved. The best way to do this is to make 5S a habit so that everyone understands and hopefully gets motivated to do it.
When this step is successful, you will notice that you no longer have to remind people to do the sorting, setting in order, and the shining.
Is 5S Necessary?
Each company has its own way of boosting their employees’ productivity and well-being. The 5S System is one of the many techniques in ensuring that a company can minimize their operational costs while maximizing their employee’s abilities.
The 5S System definitely does not take effect overnight. As it is a continuous cycle, you will only be able to see effects, when this has become a practice in your company.
Trying it out once will not work long-term. Therefore, in order to see the benefits of the 5S system, you need to shape the way people think about office cleanliness, productivity, and organisation.