Use 5S to Keep Your Home Office Efficient and Effective

messy office

Last week I wrote about lean methodology which was originally developed by Japanese engineers at Toyota.  When lean methodology started to become known among Western companies in the 1990s, an associated concept called 5S, already used by Toyota and many other Japanese companies, also became popular.  The 5 S’s stand for the Japanese words that start with the letter ‘s’ when translated into English: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke.  5S is used by many manufacturing organizations to help keep the workplace organized.  You can use it too to help keep your home office efficient and effective.  And don’t worry, you don’t need to remember the Japanese terns.  Over time, Western managers have found similar ‘s’ words to take their place.

Sort: This is the type of sorting you do during spring cleaning.  Eliminate all unnecessary items in your home office.  Keep only what’s essential to doing your job on a daily basis.  If you don’t use it regularly, consider storing it someplace.  I moved my home office to a smaller room in my house and it forced me to take a hard look at all the stuff I had accumulated – a docking station for my laptop that I never used, old headsets, spare storage drives, etc.  Most of it was just taking up space.

Straighten: Arrange your home office equipment so it minimizes wasted movement (remember the category of waste from last week’s post called Motion).  For example, I initially had my modem and router located in another room.  Since I was having consistent problems with my local service provider and was manually rebooting the devices regularly, it made more sense to have it within arm’s reach.

Shine:  Keep it clean and organized.  At the end of a shift, it’s normal for workers to clean the shop floor and ensure all equipment and tools are put in their place.  You should do the same.  At the end of the workday, spend a few minutes to clean up your home office and prepare for the next day.  It will keep you focused and help organize your thoughts, not just your office.

Standardize.  This step usually refers to maintaining uniform policies and procedures.  In regards to working from home, think about your routine.  Getting into a routine will keep you focused and productive.  It will also help fight some of the distractions that creep up from the household.

Sustain.  Ensure you are following through on the previous steps.  If necessary, schedule time every now and then to review your home office, do the necessary cleaning, or review your work habits.

Over time, engineers and managers have expended on the 5S concept and created 6, 7, and even 8S.  The additional step that I think is most relevant to those that work from home is Safety.  Many organizations provide a home office safety checklist to help employees, but others leave it to their teleworkers to figure it out on their own.  Don’t overlook this step.  Ensure that your home office is not only clean and organized, but safe as well.

Good luck,



2 Responses to Use 5S to Keep Your Home Office Efficient and Effective

  1. JK says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    My previous employer was big in to the 5S Method and while in the office it probably didn’t have the desired effect, in the factory and manufacturing areas it certainly had a big impact and improvement on productivity.

    • Hey JK,
      I had the same experience when I worked in a traditional office setting. I agree that it is more applicable to the factory floor but anxious to see if people can apply it to their home offices.

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