The Lean 5s Office: Set Your Office in Order

The Lean 5s Office is worth the effort and commitment with 5s in place in the office you and the time will find that stress levels will reduce and productivity will increase.

If you’ve followed the guidelines from my first post on improving your office productivity through 5s by now you should have:

  • Completed the first of the 5s step ‘sorting’ (A.K.A red tagging/labeling) of those items that you don’t need on your desk, around your desk and in your office.
  • Any unneeded items or items you’re not sure about should now be in your ‘tagged item’ holding zone.

The visual result now should be a much tidier work area, free from unneeded clutter!5s Your desk

Your next step is to review the ‘tagged’ items in your holding zone, think of this zone as your clearing area.

  • Get rid of the Items in this zone that are definitely not needed immediately.  Can another department use them? Can you sell them?

If you have some items left in your holding zone it will be because you need them.  You now need to review your entire work area, your desk, around your desk and the general office work-space to determine the best place to locate all items that you definitely need including files and folders, pens, stationary etc.

In the Lean 5s cycle this step is called ‘Set In Order’ and it’s about making sure that everything has a place and when an item is used that it’s returned to it’s place (it’s home).

This second step is about minimizing the time and motion spent searching for items in the office, which interrupts your flow and causes frustration for you and everyone else.

In the manufacturing environment shadow boards are used to identify an item’s home, they are very useful because when an item is not returned ‘home’ it’s easy to see.

Some examples of shadow boards:

5s Shadow Board

The shadow boarding concept applied to an office drawer:

5s Lean Office

To help you determine the best place to locate your items use the table below as a guide, taking the frequency of item usage into consideration will help you determine the best ‘home’ for it and you can then set about marking/labeling it’s home.

Frequency of Use Location


Always– Used to perform tasks at the desk/work/processing area several times per day.

Within easy reach.










 Used once per day.


 In immediate work/processing area.








 Occasionally – Once per week.


Within short walking distance of work/processing area.










 Rarely – not used on a weekly basis.


  Close to the office/plant.








Email me if you need a copy of the template above.

Try to make the items ‘home’ location as visible as possible.

In the next post we’ll look at S3: Shine.







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