Disorganisation in work areas is typical in any work setting. It may not seem like a big deal or a big problem at all – but the truth is that a heavy environment leads to problems: having trouble locating specific items and having no space are real obstacles to productivity. These lead to stress within teams, time wastes, dependence and to causing a bad impression on visitors.
In these cases, team members ask themselves: how can we be more productive? How can we answer requests faster? How can we make the workspace more transparent?
There are 5 golden steps to solving these problems. The 5S organisation helps solve real issues, as well as organise work areas – from the more personal (such as desks) to the public and shared (for example, kitchens, social areas or libraries). Any kind of area can benefit from 5S, from the industrial to the more administrative activity sectors. This organisation should be brought upon by the people who are in fact working in the specific work spaces – it is the only way to know that an organisation is suitable.
1st - Sort (Seiri)
Remove from the workplace anything that is not necessary for the processes being developed in it. It is important to define what is essential and what is not, looking meticulously through every shelf, under every machine, in every cabinet, etc. so as to free the workplace from anything that is not relevant.
2nd - Set in Order (Seiton)
Define a place for every item, according to how many times it is used. This new order should follow the rule “a place for each thing and each thing in its place”.
3rd - Shine (Seiso)
Restore the the good conditions of equipments and infrastructures, assuming the motto “to clean is to inspect”. The original conditions of operation of the workplace and equipments should be reset, and any simple problem should be solved in an immediate way. Any problem that cannot be of immediate solution should be visually identified by using a red tag.
4th - Standardise (Seiketsu)
Standards should be defined in order to assure that the new organisation is kept, which will mark the difference between a traditional organisation and a 5S organisation. This step allows for and eases the sustainability of the first three Ss (Sort, Set in Order, Shine). It is at this time that visual standards should be defined to evidence the places of order and establish the rules of use for equipment and materials. Colour coding and symbols are used to facilitate the identification and use of materials and equipment.
5th - Sustain (Shitsuke)
Sustaining with discipline will lead to the compliance of defined standards. Maintenance and improvement of organisation in workspaces is continuous in time, which means everyone has to be aware of the standards and should apply them daily, as well as should improve them whenever possible. Audits should be periodically done to guarantee the healthy state of the workplace.
If the 5 steps are followed through, there will surely be an increase in productivity through the reduction of time lost looking for equipment and material. Increasing team motivation is another result of applying the 5S organisation. The workplace will become more organised and transparent, which will also lead to the improvement of the quality of service.