A Publication of WTVP

There’s no disputing the benefits of 5S/Workplace organization on the factory floor. Manufacturers who have implemented this proven tool are operating more efficiently, with better quality at the source, producing goods rather than looking for parts and tools needed to do the job. The system is a series of activities designed to improve workplace organization: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.

However, if you talk to a manufacturer about implementing 5S in the office, they are less enthusiastic. “What difference does it make if the desks are messy so long as the throughput in the shop is at an all-time high?”

While an organized workspace is no doubt appealing to the eye, the value of implementing a 5S Kaizen event in the front office extends beyond simply creating an orderly appearance. The process of sorting, organizing, shining, standardizing and sustaining your administrative functions will generate more value-added output per worker. It is an improvement in productivity, safety and quality that will generate more money for your company.

Here are some of the benefits of a 5S project:

1. More effective use of technology, tools and time.
Implementing 5S in the office makes technology more accessible. Routinely cleaning, inspecting and organizing key business tools (fax machines, copiers, computers, etc.) minimizes waiting time, improves quality and maximizes the time spent on activities the customer is willing to pay.

2. Ease of access to supplies and information on paper and in electronic formats.
How much time is wasted each day trying to find a file or to determine the status of an order? Too often we find ourselves searching through papers. Or worse yet, scanning computer systems for files whose locations are long forgotten. Clearly mapping out electronic filing policies eliminates those hassles, helps improve customer service (both internal and external) and minimizes frustrations. If an outsider can’t find something in one’s office or desk within 30 seconds, a 5S application may help.

3. Get by without the “irreplaceable” employee.
Every office has a process expert—the person who inherently knows where everything is. But what happens when that individual goes on vacation or, worse yet, leaves the company? While we all have employees whose attitudes and work ethic are irreplaceable, their functions should not be. Document the processes used to perform work so when an employee takes a vacation or even exits the organization, the transition is manageable.

4. Improve workplace safety.
By eliminating clutter and employing ergonomic solutions to make workstations more comfortable and productive, a company reduces the risk of their employees filing workers’ compensation claims. Not only does this affect the bottom line, but it fulfills a responsibility an employer has to its employees to provide a safe working environment. IBI