A 5S Office System – Sustaining the 5S Office System

5S System Standardize and Sustain are the fourth and fifth steps in a 5S Office System. These last two steps are about keeping your 5S Office System running smoothly. To do this you must set up standards and reinforce the 5S Office System.

After the first three articles A 5S Office System – Part 1 Planning, A 5S Office System – Part 2 Laying The Foundation and A 5S Office System – Part 3 Your First 5S Office Campaign you have your 5S Office System in place. Now we will look at how you can sustain and improve the system over time.

Establish Standards

To make sure the 5S Office System is followed you must set up standards. The goal is to put to paper standards for how you want your office workspace to be maintained. These are the rules but don’t call them that, call them standards.

Here is an example of standards for conference rooms

  • No food is allowed in the conference room
  • Doors should be closed during all meetings
  • Cell phones should be put on silent before a meeting starts
  • White boards must be cleared at the end of the meeting
  • All chairs must be put back in place and if extra seating is brought in it must be removed at the end of the meeting
  • The meeting organizer is responsible for making sure the conference room is clean and returned to standards at the end of each meeting. (accountability)

Remember a 5S Office System is about more than keeping things clean and organized. It should include office etiquette as well. You are changing the culture of the office so this must include a code of behavior such as turning off cell phones before a meeting starts.

Standards should be established for every common workspace and personal workspace. How they should be laid out, how they should be labeled, how they should be organized, and how they should be maintained.

Other areas to consider:

  • How desks and offices should be maintained
  • How filing cabinets and common work areas should be maintained
  • When files are pulled they must be returned to the proper filing cabinet by the end of each day
  • Common work areas must be kept clean and organized
  • At the end of each day desks should be cleared and ready for work the next day

Don’t become a 5S Czar by laying down rules that are so rigid people will not follow them. Standards should be best practices for maintaining a clean, organized and productive work environment. Standards are the who, what, when, where and how of your 5S Office System.

Sustain The 5S Office System

The fifth and last step in a 5S Office System is the sustain step. With the sustain step you want to instill the self-discipline needed for everyone to follow the 5S Office System. You also want to lay the groundwork for changing the office culture.

Reinforce Your 5S Office Team

Continue to hold regular meetings with your 5S Office team to check the system. 5S utilizes Kaizen which is a philosophy of small, but continuous improvements. No matter how good your system is it can always be improved.

Evaluate your system to see if your goals are being met and if new goals need to be added. Look at areas where the system is not working well and find out why. These meetings should cover the 5S Office System as well as the office culture.

Reinforce Your Employees

Old habits die hard over and over time the newness of the 5S Office System will wear off and some people will be tempted to return to their old habits. The sustain step will make sure this does not happen. By nature people are resistant to change and others may think this is just another fad that will fade away.

One way to reinforce your employees is to hold monthly 5S Office campaigns. Over time slippage will occur and more extensive sort, straighten and shine steps will need to be carried out. As with your first campaign make it an office event. Make it a jeans Friday and bring in snacks.

Hold a meeting or have a lunch to get feedback from employees. The goal is to keep employees engaged in the 5S Office System so they know it is not going to fade away. Only then will it become a habit and part of the office culture.

Contests are often used in 5S Systems. Rewards are good incentives and the benefits you reap will be well worth the cost. The contests can be the best example of a 5S Office workspace, and awards for teams or departments. It will raise morale and yield better results than disciplinary actions.

Three Keys to Success

  1. Ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. How can you expect people to follow a system they do not understand or is not clearly defined by standards?
  2. Set aside a specific time of day to carry out the sort, straighten and shine steps. This is the biggest key to success. You must give your employees the time to support the system. Those 10-15 minutes at the end of each day are likely already lost with people preparing to go home. Utilize this time to support the system. You want this to become a habit and habits are formed by repetition.
  3. Reinforce both your 5S Office team and your employees to keep the 5S Office system from fading away.

The 5S Office System Series