Improving Office Productivity With 5S Principles
by Allan Ung
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step."
- Lao Tzu, a famous Chinese Philosopher
Around the world, more and more organizations have started to adopt Lean principles and practices to improve competitiveness. As a holistic approach, office activities must fully support shop-floor manufacturing operations to eliminate waste as a means to improve productivity.
The office, by any name, is a paperwork factory. The adoption of 5S principles throughout all office and administrative functions is the first step to increase efficiency.
In developing a culture of continuous improvement, the 5S is like a mirror reflecting our attitudes and behavioral patterns during the transformation process.
5S is a basic management philosophy for eliminating waste and improving workplace organization and standardization. 5S serves as the foundation for continuous improvement activities and on which other Lean methodologies can be applied. It is also one of the cornerstones of employee engagement.
Although 5S concepts are simple and easy to understand, many organizations have failed in the implementation process. This is because 5S is often misunderstood as a thorough spring cleaning program. 5S, however, is more than just a housekeeping program - it is a method for workplace organization and productivity improvement.
The benefits of 5S implementation are reduced mistakes or errors from employees, reduced search time in locating files, information and supplies, improved employee safety and morale, and improved customer service.
5S comes from the first letters of five Japanese words, namely, Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke. Translated to its English equivalent, 5S means: Sort, Set In Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.