A 5S Office System – Part 3 Your First 5S Office Campaign

5s There are many benefits to a 5S Office System. Saving time, saving money, increasing efficiency, increasing production and increasing morale are just some examples.

In the first two articles A 5S Office System – Part 1 Planning and A 5S Office System – Part 2 Laying The Foundation, we looked at planning for and laying down the foundation of a 5S Office System. Now we will look to put everything to use by launching your first 5S Office Campaign.


By this time you should have all of your planning done and all of the supplies you need to support your 5S Office System.

  • A zone map designating where everything is located
  • Designated sort areas for sorting items that are out of place or their status is unknown
  • Supplies such as tags, boxes, trash bags, cleaning supplies
  • Your office flow examined and a list of changes to be made
  • Equipment and office furniture to be upgraded

At this point you need to or should have already set the date of your first 5S Office campaign. Friday is always a good day to hold one on. Allow your team members to wear jeans and comfortable shoes. Most likely you will not be able to shut down office operations so plan your campaign in stages with as little interruption to team members as possible.


playbook Now it is time to bring the entire office staff onboard with the 5S Office System. Hold one large or several small meetings to educate them on what a 5S Office System is, what it means to them and how they will participate. It is a good idea to have hand-outs ready that explains the 5S Office System and what team members are expected to do. You will have lots of questions and a few grumbles, but as with anything that is new be patient as it will take time for everyone to get onboard.

By this time you should have all of the support structure in place. Zone maps should be posted around the office or on your organizations Intranet. If you plan on using a bulletin board it should already be up, along with a suggestion box.

The day before your campaign review everything with your 5S Office team. Be sure everyone knows their tasks and that everything is in place. You can expect plenty of bumps and forgotten items to show up so you should expect these. If your office is in really bad shape you may not get everything done in one day. For instance if you are upgrading equipment and furniture it would be best to do that after the first campaign is complete.

The goal of the first campaign is to clear out everything that does not belong and set everything in its place. This is the foundation you will build on. It may take several campaigns and be followed by daily, weekly and monthly work to get the 5S Office System in place and part of the daily routine.

Days or even weeks before you start your first campaign take pictures. You will post them on the 5S Office System bulletin board or Intranet web site as before and after pictures. They will serve as excellent reminders of how bad it was and how much better it is with a 5S Office System.


manwithboxes Launch day is here and your team is ready to go. Use the steps in the 5S Office System as your guide to run your campaign.


The Sort step for the office is about removing anything that is not necessary to do the work.

Sort through work areas and remove any unnecessary items such as books, supplies and files. Check inside all drawers, cabinets and storage areas.

The goal of the sort step is to remove anything that does not belong. Items that are out of place and items that a team member does not know where it goes should be taken to the designated sort areas. In the sort areas items should be tagged according to what is to be done with them. Relocation to a specific area and trash are the most likely outcomes. If in doubt, move it out. You can always come back and replace something if it is needed.

Each team member should be responsible for their own desk. You do not want members of your 5S Office team going through team members desk, cabinets or belongings. Give each employee at least one box to place items that do not belong in their work area. 5S Office team members can then take the boxes to the sort areas.

This is also the time to shred documents or other material that is no longer needed. You can create a lot of free space by getting rid of paperwork that is no longer needed. It will also make it easier in the next step when you organize and label all of your files and cabinets.


Once all of the clutter has been removed it is time to put things in their place. Start by clearing out your sort areas and putting items where they belong. Next move through the office looking for anything that may have been missed. You want as much removed as possible to make the Shine step easier. Some items may have to wait until the Shine step has been completed to return them.

Arrange items so that they are easily accessible. Use a labeling system to label all folders and other items so they can be easily spotted. The goal is to be able to find what you are looking for in 30 seconds or less.

The motto for the Straighten step is “Everything has a place, everything in its place”. This is your goal for this step. For most desks and cabinets this will just mean sorting through what is left and organizing it. If desks, furniture or equipment is to be moved to improve work flow this is the time to do it.


Now that all of the clutter has been removed and everything has been put in to place it is time to clean. This is the step where people will really start to notice the results.

Clean everything in the work area including all office equipment. If your office equipment has not been recently serviced, service it yourself or setup a service call. Move furniture if needed to get everything swept or vacuumed. Literally look high and low for dirt, trash and gunk. You will be surprised at what you will find.


The last two steps are about installing a system that will support and maintain the 5S Office System. You should already have written a document explaining to everyone what is expected of them. Detail what should be done at the end of each day, each week and each month.

Establish standards for how the work areas should be maintained. Everything should be kept clean and organized. When items are pulled for use they should be returned when you are done with them. Standardization is important to maintaining and improving on the system.

At the end of each workday you want each work area to be ready to start work the next day. Don’t allow files and paperwork to pile up on desks. They should be disposed of or returned to when they belong when they are no longer needed. This should be part of the daily routine and should become a habit for everyone.


Be sure that everyone is following the new 5S Office System standards. This is about making sure everyone is following the 5S Office System and doing their part. A word of warning here. You do not want to establish a 5S Office police force. A negative opinion will develop very quickly. You want everyone to be onboard and it may take others longer to get with the new system. Be patient!

If your first 5S Office campaign was done properly everyone should notice the difference. Being able to find what you need when you need it, not having to walk halfway across the building to get office supplies, seeing the office clean and tidy should raise morale. The goal of the Sustain step is to instill a philosophy that will make the 5S Office system part of the office culture.


office2 Now that your first 5S Office campaign is complete it is time to meet with your 5S team members and see what worked and what needs to be improved on. Don’t expect everything to go perfect the first time. Your 5S Office System should include continuous improvement. Things will change and your system must adapt to those changes.

If you did not get everything done this time make plans for your next campaign. If your plan includes replacing old equipment or office furniture make plans to do this now. You probably ran across things you did not plan for or uncovered things you did not know existed.

The most effective system is one where everyone takes 15 minutes at the end of each day to perform the first three steps. If they make 5S part of their daily routine it should take less time than this. This also gives them time to set themselves up so they can start work with a clean slate the next day.

If needed set aside more time at the end of the day on Friday to perform the first three steps in more detail than can be done during the week. Having everything sorted, back in its place and cleaned makes Monday mornings a lot more tolerable and productive.

Plan on having monthly 5S Office campaigns on set dates. The last Friday of the month is a good time. Make it an event that people will look forward to rather than dread. Bring in snacks, make it a casual Friday, be creative to make it not only productive in maintaining the 5S Office System, but a morale booster as well. You may want to put a little competition into it by rewarding people or teams with the best areas. Gift cards or other rewards are a good incentive.

Most of all remember that a 5S Office System is about making the workplace better. More efficient, more productive, cleaner and raising morale. It is not a rigid system that must be followed “or else”. You want your 5S Office System to be accepted and work. This will lay the foundation for further improvements in the future. A successful 5S Office System that is accepted and followed will make it much easier to make these improvements in the future.

The 5S Office System Series