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How to apply 5S in the Office:

Though it’s good to learn visual management and 5S by utilizing concepts of 5S in the office (desk, chair, tabletops, etc), wasted time in the office doesn’t come from looking for a pencil or looking for a phone.  Remember the purpose of 5S in the cultural change phase: to support the OE system and establish PDCA, visual management, and roles/responsibilities.  Once you’ve really grasped the concept of 5S – it’s time to use the tool to solve problems that you are making visible through your audits and checks.

One of the greatest wastes in an office environment is file storage (or lack there of).  This may happen digitally (internet or internal database) or physically in a filing cabinet.  If you’ve looked over and over for a file, can’t find that powerpoint, or aren’t sure if you’re using the latest version of a document you and a team have been editing, you will benefit from using 5S on your file storage.

5S in the Office (Non 5S'ed File Storage)

5S in the Office (Non 5S'ed File Storage)

Let’s take a Look at real examples of 5S in the Office:

Sort: Are there multiple people in your office using the same set of files?  Do some folks save a version of the file on his or her computer, a network folder, maybe a personal computer, and a back-up flash drive?  How many versions of the same file does that create?!

Sort through the files you and your team don’t need.  DELETE the ones you definitively do not need.  ZIP or ARCHIVE the ones you’ll probably never need but are too scared to delete.  Separate them from the files you need to use.

Most importantly, use that recycle bin!  It’s a perfect place to implement the idea of a “red tag” holding area.

Straighten: How do you currently access your files and how do you currently name your files?  Are you searching by name? Date? What files do you use most often?

At KCOE, we sort our coaching notes first by client, then by date, because that is the way we are searching.  We don’t mind the multiple folders to click through to find some files because we don’t access them as much as we would access standard coaching/training topics.  However, if you’re using files more often (e.g. daily) put them a click or two away!

Shine: How are you naming your files?  Does everyone in your office have a different way to name essentially the same kind of file?

Keep file names tidy and consistent.  If they aren’t a click or two away – you should be able to search (e.g. spotlight) and find them quickly.

Standardize: Create standards for naming files and placing files.   Create standards for updating and saving files.  For example, we have a standard training package on Workplace Organization – if a colleague of mine finds an improvement with the standard training package s/he must make the update, negotiate it with our team, and THEN update the standard training package.

Sustain: Just like 5S on the manufacturing or hospital floor – successful 5S should have an end-of-shift restoration and a weekly team leader audit.  Remember – this is to help make problems visible so you and your team can solve them.

Sustaining 5S in the Office

Some Office 5S checklist activities:

1. Clear desktop of all files (file approporiately)

2. Clear email inbox

3. Close all running programs

4. Restart computer

A weekly 5S Office Audit items may include the following:

1. There are no files on Computer #1’s desktop

2. There are no files on Computer #2’s desktop

3. There are no files on Computer #3’s desktop

4. The “Coaching” folder matches the standard posted in the folder

5. The “Training Topics” folder matches the standard posted in the folder

If you would like further or more specific information on 5S in the office please email us.



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4 Responses to “5S in the Office | Workplace Organization”

  1. 5S Audit for the Office
    3:56 pm on December 10th, 2010

    [...] posting my last blog, 5S in the Office – I had several folks email us and ask about a specific office audit.  I’ve uploaded a [...]

  2. 5S Audit for the Office | OE Blog - Operational Excellence Resources by KCOE
    11:15 pm on December 6th, 2011

    [...] posting my last blog, 5S in the Office – I had several folks email us and ask about a specific office audit.  I’ve uploaded a [...]

  3. Geoffrey Feddersen
    3:15 am on February 16th, 2013

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  4. Na Migl
    9:51 pm on April 11th, 2013

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