Optimisation of time and ways of working is not at all complicated. Implementing 5S in the office will allow for a reorganisation of work at the office. Sorting and systematics are the first two steps to a better quality of work (we wrote about them here). Below you can find the next steps to help you optimise work at the office fully.
Step 3 - Systematic cleaning
To save time spent going through documents on the desk and in IT systems, we should take care of cleaning. Cleaning is the third 5S step. It consists not only of physically clearing out the desk and the computer, but also on putting the work station in order. Order and having the materials on the work station sorted will help with a quick visual identification of potential failures or problems.
A complete refurbishment of the work station may help implement the third 5S step. In addition, it is a good idea to divide the office and disc space into sectors of ownership. In case of common office equipment (for example filing cabinets, office materials, hard drives) a schedule of cleaning can be drawn. Because of that the workers will participate actively in improving the work stations.
Keeping order will allow for comfortable work, but also eliminate situations related to losing documents and data. In addition, inspiring the feeling of ownership and responsibility for one's own space in a worker can effectively increase their engagement in their professional tasks.
Step 4 - Standardisation
Engaging the workers in the processes taking place within the company is especially important in case of the next step – standardisation. Every company wanting to optimise the rules of its operation should identify and set their standards of operation. It is best if they concern every important aspect – not just the most strategic processes. Clearly defined responsibilities and scopes of employees' responsibility make them engage in the company's operation truly.
Standardisation impacts the time required to introduce a worker into their duties. Ease, accessibility and clarity of a process or a task influences the length of the adaptation process and achieving satisfactory levels of efficiency – stresses Mariusz Szymocha. Work environment, especially the office environment, lacking elements helping with a worker's introduction usually have a lower average work efficiency. Implementing and following the standards makes work easier. Commonly known procedures help improve flexibility and implement regular improvements. It is worth considering in terms of the key employees absence, who organised, analysed and archived documents or files in a way known only to them – he adds.
In addition, while creating standards it is worth to pay attention to the employees comments. Including their needs and suggestions in the process will make it easier to create an optimum work place not only in terms of efficiency, but also the comfort of their work.
The conception that office work is not a standardised task is a common remark against introducing standardisation in office structures. A variety of problems to be solved, different employees' perspectives on the given tasks, and variability of clients and their needs are not an issue when realising the fourth 5S step. Just like it is with factories, 5S is a tool assisting work time optimisation. The management of office and factory processes is the same, so improvements brought by 5S will create significant results in both cases.
Step 5 - Sustaining
Implementing the 5S system will make sense only if the whole team takes part in the changes. The human factor is too important within a company to overlook it. Inspiring a sense of responsibility for their own work station in the employees will make it easier to sustain the changes that were introduced. Significant changes in the company's organisational culture must take place in this step. The appropriate 5S training, organisation of implementation teams, direct participation of the management in the workshops and giving an example to the workers with the managers' behaviour are the foundation for achieving the objectives.
Is it worth doing at the office?
The 5S enables an optimisation of the company's processes. But because of the strategy's association with manufacturing, the validity of implementing the 5S in an office structure is being questioned. The organisational structures of an office and a manufacturing department are not that different from the 5S perspective. In both cases we see processes and risks related to a wastage of materials and time. In both cases an optimisation of the realised tasks is possible thanks to the reorganisation of the ways of working.
Office processes are interesting because they consist of many unusual working patterns, which, unlike those of the manufacturing process, are not visible without an analysis of the given field. Office occurrences-processes, which are not visible, are usually not optimised. They are considered to be non-standard and difficult to measure and manage schematically – says Mariusz Szymocha. Whereas the 5S make everything that was difficult to verify simple and clear. It is worth noticing that unlike during the production process, it is easier to implement changes in an office: there is no need to move machinery or reorganise a factory. But the results are similar – a shorter time required to complete tasks resulting from ergonomics, simplicity and clarity. In that case it is easy to achieve financial and non-financial benefits.
In addition, modern companies usually comprise or extended office structures. A lack of uniform work standards, clear procedures or documents archiving or problems with preserving order on a work station can create a real risk to the profitability of running a business. It is worth remembering that delays, mistakes and every lost document may mean losing a client. And it may to enough to introduce 5S to improve control over every process, as well as over the company as a whole. Is it worth doing at the office? It is worth it, as long as it is done reasonably and as long as we are aware that the 5S is only one proven and useful tools used in Lean Management.