The 5S methodology is derived from a Japanese system that aims to bring order and organization into the workplace. The rationale behind the 5S methodology is that a workplace is more efficient when it is organized and when these standards of organization are maintained. Therefore, applying the 5S methodology means finding effective ways of sorting (seiri), setting in order (seiton), shining (seiso), standardizing (seiketsu) and sustaining (shitsuke) orderly practices in the workplace. Creativity and participation by employees in the workplace is important for the implementation this system.
Sort through the workplace to remove items, such as papers and machinery, which are not needed. Review then remove any applications or processes that are time-wasting, such as complex software or a redundant printing machine. Keep the information, processes, software, machinery and items that are needed in the workstation.
Set the workstation is order by putting in place proper storage systems. Place larger and heavier items on the floor and fix cabinets and storage bins to store smaller items. Ask for professional help from an IT specialist or a vendor to create simpler online documentation and information storage systems. Label the storage spaces, such as cabinets, for easier identification and retrieval of information and items.
Shine the workplace by regularly cleaning workstations even before they become too dirty. Assign housekeeping responsibilities by creating a log in which each person undertakes a task, which will contribute to keeping the workplace clean. Set up simple channels of communication by creating notice boards or using stick-ons to organize tasks.
Standardize the changes made by creating policies and best practices guidelines. Include employees in the workplace when brainstorming and write down the specific steps that will be undertaken to sort out what is needed, and how to effectively store items and information, and how to keep the place clean. Post these guidelines on a notice board that can be seen by everyone.
Sustain the new culture of orderliness and organization. Reward those who contribute significantly to the best practices established and those who develop new ways of applying the methodology.
New employees in the workplace must be given an orientation about the workplace organizational system. Otherwise, new employees may not understand the 5s methodology in your workplace and thus cause (unintended) disruption to the system itself.