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5S Workplace Organisation

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Author: Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

5S Workplace Organisation

A work environment can be made more effective, efficient, and safer by using the 5S methodology. It was created as a component of the Toyota Production System, which aims to reduce waste and boost manufacturing efficiency, and it has its roots in Japan.

The name “5S” refers to the methodology’s five guiding principles: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. The method is used to raise workplace productivity, quality, and safety and has been widely embraced by a number of industries.

The History of 5S

The 5S methodology, which has its roots in Japan, is popular throughout the manufacturing industry and other industries. It is predicated on the notion that maintaining a tidy and organized workspace can increase productivity and effectiveness by making it simpler to locate tools and supplies, lowering the chance of accidents, and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement. The name “5S” is made up of the five Japanese words seiri (which means “sort”), seiton (which means “set in order”), seiso (which means “shine”), seiketsu (which means “standardize”), and shitsuke (which means “sustain”).

the 5S Cycle, Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardise, Sustain
The 5S Cycle

5S was developed as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is a set of principles and practices that are used to manage and improve manufacturing processes. TPS is based on the ideas of “just-in-time” (JIT) production, which aims to minimize waste and increase efficiency by producing only what is needed when it is needed. 5S is one of the core components of TPS and is used to create a clean and organized work environment that supports JIT production.

What is 5S?

5S is an approach used to organize and improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of a work environment. It is based on five principles: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. These principles are typically implemented in the following way:

Sort (Seiri): This involves identifying and removing items that are not needed in the work area. This helps to eliminate clutter and create a more organized and efficient space.

Set in Order (Seiton): This involves organizing and labelling items in the work area so that they can be easily found and used. This helps to reduce the time and effort required to locate and use tools and materials.

Shine (Seiso): This involves regularly cleaning and maintaining the work area and equipment. This helps to create a safe and efficient work environment and can also help to prevent equipment failures.

Standardize (Seiketsu): This involves establishing and documenting standard practices and procedures for maintaining the work area and equipment. This helps to ensure that the work area is consistently organized and maintained.

Sustain (Shitsuke): This involves maintaining the improvements made through the previous four steps and continuously improving the work environment. This helps to ensure that the benefits of 5S are sustained over time.

5S is often used in manufacturing and other industrial settings, but it can also be applied to offices, schools, hospitals, and other types of work environments. It is a key component of the lean manufacturing approach, which seeks to minimize waste and improve efficiency in all aspects of an organization.

Benefits of 5S

The 5S methodology can have a variety of benefits in the workplace, including the following:

Increased productivity – Employees can find the tools and materials they need more quickly and easily in a tidy, organised workspace, saving time and effort. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity.

Improved safety – A cluttered and disorganised workspace can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Implementing 5S can aid in lowering these risks and create a safer work environment by getting rid of unnecessary items and establishing clear standards for organisation and cleanliness.

Improved quality – A neat and orderly workspace can help to lower the likelihood of errors and mistakes, resulting in an improvement in the quality of the goods or services produced.

Reduced waste – Implementing 5S can aid in reducing waste and inefficiencies in the workplace by identifying and removing unnecessary items and enhancing organization.

Improved morale – A pleasant and well-organized workplace can raise employee satisfaction and morale, which can increase engagement and loyalty to the company.

Enhanced customer satisfaction – A clean and organised workplace can also have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, as it can create a more professional and trustworthy appearance.

Increased flexibility – By implementing 5S can make it simpler to adapt to changes in the workplace, such as new products or processes, by establishing clear standards and procedures for organization and cleanliness. The organization’s flexibility and adaptability may be improved as a result.


Examples of how to apply the 5 steps of 5S

Here are some examples of how the 5S methodology might be applied in the workplace:

Sort (seiri) – In this step, employees might identify and remove unnecessary tools, materials, or equipment from the workspace. This might include items that are no longer needed, are in poor condition, or are duplicates of other items. A good method for this step is to use the red tagging process. Red tagging is a process used as part of the 5S implementation to identify and remove unnecessary items from the work environment. It involves attaching a red tag to items that are not needed in the work area, with the goal of eliminating clutter and creating a more organized and efficient space.

The process of red tagging typically involves identifying items that are not being used, are broken or damaged, or are no longer needed. These items are then tagged with a red tag and removed from the work area. In some cases, the red-tagged items may be discarded, while in other cases they may be stored or donated.

Red tagging is an important step in the process, as it helps to eliminate distractions and unnecessary items that can clutter the work environment and hinder productivity. By removing these items, organizations can create a clean and organized workspace that supports efficiency and effectiveness. Red tagging can also be useful if you are unsure if an item is needed in an area or not.

By applying the red tag and having a date to review red tagged items by you can decide if they are needed or not, if a red tag is still on an item after 4 weeks, it is likely that item is not needed in the area and should be removed, but if the item is needed then the red tag can be removed and a suitable location should be found for the item.

Example of a 5S Red Tag
Example of a 5S Red Tag

Set in order (seiton) – In this step, employees might organize the remaining tools and materials in a logical and accessible way. This might involve creating storage systems, such as bins or racks, and labelling items to make them easier to find.

Shine (seiso) – In this step, employees might thoroughly clean the workspace, including all tools and equipment, as well as the floors and surfaces. This might involve sweeping, dusting, and wiping down surfaces to create a safe and pleasant work environment.

Standardize (seiketsu) – In this step, employees might establish clear standards and procedures for maintaining the organization and cleanliness of the workspace. This might include creating checklists, posting signs, or setting up training programs to ensure that everyone understands and follows the 5S principles.

Sustain (shitsuke) – In this step, employees might continuously review and maintain the 5S principles to ensure that the workspace stays clean and organized. This might involve regular inspections, audits, or other forms of monitoring to ensure that the 5S standards are being followed.

Sustainment audits is the most commonly used tool to measure the effectiveness and sustainability of the 5S methodology in a workplace. In order to determine whether the 5S principles are being followed and whether improvements are being maintained over time, they typically involve a systematic review of the work environment and processes.

During sustainment audits, the person responsible for auditing will typically observe the work environment, review documents such as standard operating procedures and checklists, and talk to employees to assess their understanding and adherence to the principles of 5S. Additionally, to gauge the impact of 5S on the organisation, the auditor may also gather information on incidents and accidents, production rates, and other metrics.

The results of a sustainment audit can help an organization identify areas for improvement and develop a plan to maintain the benefits over the long term. It can also help to ensure that the 5S methodology is being consistently applied throughout the organization and that it is aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives.

Overall, the goal of the 5S methodology is to create a clean, organized, and efficient workspace that promotes productivity, quality, and safety.

5S Audit Template

Download the 5S Sustainment Audit Excel Template to use for your 5S audits. Complete the template by inputting the results of auditing an area as A,B or C and commenting on anything that scores less than an A to identify what needs to be improved. The audit is an ideal place to start your 5S implementation as well as to sustain it.

The template comes with two versions, one for a manufacturing environment and one for an office environment, you can select the appropriate template as needed.

5S Sustainment Audit Template
5S Sustainment Audit template


In conclusion, 5S is a powerful methodology that has been proven to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and safety in a wide range of industries and settings. By following the five principles of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, organizations can create a clean and organized work environment that supports productivity, quality, and continuous improvement. The benefits of 5S are numerous and can include increased productivity, improved safety, enhanced quality, reduced waste, and improved morale. As such, 5S is a valuable tool for organizations looking to optimize their work environments and achieve their goals.


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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website www.learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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