5s Methodology for a Productive Work Environment

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5s Methodology for a Productive Work Environment

5s Methodology is a workplace organization system that involves five steps to maintain an organized, productive work environment. 5s was originally developed by the Japanese to keep their factories clean and tidy and later adapted to help maintain general workplaces.

At first glance, it might seem like there’s nothing to the 5s methodology, as it doesn’t require fancy new technologies or expensive equipment. That’s only partially true, as the real benefit of the 5s methodology lies in what it does to people and how they feel about their work environment. When applied correctly, the 5s methodology can completely change your workplace environment from one that’s unfocused and chaotic to one that’s organized and efficient.

Learn how to take advantage of the 5s methodology for maintaining a productive work environment and how you can apply them to any workspace to make it more productive and efficient.

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What does 5S stand for?

5s is a concept that everyone can you use. 5s stands for five words beginning with the letter S that is part of a methodology for an organisation developed in Japan.

The five S’s are sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.

What is 5S in simple terms?

What is 5S? The main goal is to keep things tidy, organized and streamlined at all times. The 5 stages are an easy way to keep things clean, safe, and easy to find.

A methodology used to create an organized, safe and efficient workplace. The main goal is to reduce wasted time by eliminating clutter, helping you find what you need when you need it.

Wherever your office or workplace maybe it will make that place feel more efficient and productive through these 5 steps.

Why is 5s important?

The five S’s are important because they’re an organized way to help clean and organize a workspace.  These practices create an efficient space that enables your workers to concentrate on their jobs and do them more effectively. If you want to increase productivity in your workplace, get rid of clutter and make sure tools and supplies are well-organized so your staff can find them easily (and quickly).

At its core, it is a systematic approach to workplace organization that brings people together. It’s part of TPS or Toyota Production System – an integrated body of principles and practices that was developed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota Motor Corporation.

What are the 5 steps of 5S?

The 5 stages of the methodology are:

  • Sort (Seiri  整理)
  • Set in Order (Seiton 整頓)
  • Shine (Seiso 清掃)
  • Standardize (Seiketsu 清潔)
  • Sustain (Shitsuke 躾)

5 steps of 5S Checklist


The first step is to sort “tidiness.” Sort your workspace, eliminate clutter and remove unneeded things that offer no benefit. Go through tools, equipment, furniture, materials, etc. to determine what needs to be there, in order of importance.

Set in Order

Your goal is to remove clutter and unnecessary items from your workspace, putting them in order and making it easy to access what you need. First, start with set in order by going through every item in your space and grouping them together. The idea here is not only to get rid of any excess items but also to figure out exactly what you have—because chances are that you’ll have way more than necessary.


At first glance, shining—or cleaning—seems to be inconsequential. It’s really just wiping things down, you might think. It is much more than that. The key is to spend just a few minutes each day looking at what you have in your workspace, pick up anything that doesn’t belong, wipe away dust and grime, and put things back where they belong.


Once you’ve gone through everything in your workspace, decide what’s necessary and what isn’t. Determine which tools you need, what items should be out of sight or in drawers, and which ones can go back into your desk drawer or get tossed out.


Assign time to do sustain the work environment. It involves controlling, measuring, and inspecting tools and processes to ensure they continue running smoothly, as well as uncovering underlying issues that are causing flaws in current systems or defects in products or services. Using these insights, companies can either prevent future problems from occurring or quickly correct them when they do.

This example is workspace whether a desk or a workstation in a production line.

5S and Kaizen

Both are part of the lean methodology and one of the foundation stones of Kaizen. Both focus on thinking of ways to better organise and manage work.

While they share similar ideas, Kaizen is more of an overall organisational philosophy that emphasizes continual improvement and employee involvement. While 5s emphasizes organization and efficiency, Kaizen also includes personal development and self-discipline.

In short, Kaizen is generally about cultural transformation while 5s focuses on practical changes.

Benefits to business

Helps keep the workplace clean, eliminate waste, organise, and be productive; reduces chances of error; increases quality; cuts down on time employees spend searching for things or going back to fix errors.

Adopting this way of thinking, makes far more committed to putting safety first,  ahead of anything even production deadlines, and profits.

If you have ever watched Marie Kondo and her tidying method KonMari this is based on this Methodology.

Frequently asked questions
Looking for more info? Here are some things we're commonly asked
Productivity Lean / Six Sigma
  • What is Six Sigma?

    Six Sigma methodology is not a mysterious magic solution but a well-studied and tested set of tools and techniques that aim to solve problems of inefficiency within your business or projects. These techniques consist of spotting and removing all those faults cluttering your processes and stopping them from running as smoothly and effectively as possible.

    Read More: Six Sigma Continuous Process Improvement

  • What is lean six sigma?

    Lean six sigma is a combination of two methodologies, lean manufacturing and six sigma, designed to improve processes to drive businesses toward increased efficiency, productivity and improved customer satisfaction.

    Read More:  Lean Six Sigma

  • Difference between six sigma, Lean and lean six sigma?

    Six sigma, lean, and lean six sigma are all focused on improving processes to create more value for the customer.

    Lean refers to removing waste in any process, while six sigma refers to optimizing a specific process. Lean focuses on reducing waste from a system, while six sigma’s goal is to improve quality.

    Read More:  Lean Six Sigma

  • Process Improvement Methodologies

    Process Improvement Methodologies are a way to identify inefficient processes that can affect your business's performance. These methodologies can be incorporated into your business to help increase its productivity and profits!

    Read More: Process Improvement Methodologies

  • Lean Methodology

    With the lean methodology, you are stripping back the wasteful aspects of your business and either fine-tuning existing processes or replacing them entirely.

    Read More: Lean Methodology: Optimising Business Processes

  • Toyota Lean Manufacturing Maximise Productivity

    Toyota lean manufacturing production system has 13 core pillars that guide them in their decisions and continuous improvement.

    Workers are central to the whole process and treated as a precious resource for the business

    Read More: Toyota Lean Manufacturing: Maximise Productivity and Efficiency

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