5S in the Office Saves Space, Expense Money and Time

Here are some photographs from a recent office 5S activity at one of our clients. Both 5S and a redesign of individual desks and workstations are part of the Lean office effort to help improve productivity and quality. The office layout is being redesigned to be more open and visual. What they have learned over the years through Lean office and office 5S is that they can be more productive using less space, and save money on office supplies to boot. Here’s what their red tagging effort turned up.
6-29-06 2.JPG
Here is the view of the office 5S red tag piles from the ohter end of the hall.
6-29-06 8.JPG
Once they put supplies at point of use, they had to 5S the remaining extra offices supplies.
6-29-06 4.JPG
And to prevent materials from being purchased before needed these visual management cards were added.
6-29-06 6.JPG
A diagonal stripe was taped on to the spines of a set of binders. This very simple visual system shows at a glance if something is missing so you can find it and put the office back in order before disorder spreads. That way office 5S is easier to sustain.
The office 5S red tag bin, as well as the trash cans are marked an made visual. Setting locations is one of the steps of 5S to standardize workplace organization.
Speaking of 5S red tags, if you’re looking for them or other 5S supplies, get them here.
red tags.PNG
To date 175,300 red tags sold. That’s a lot of red tagged items. Think about it.


  1. Jim

    July 5, 2006 - 8:11 am

    I think the tape across the binders is really neat, very simple system… yet I have never seen anyone do it before.

  2. Nils

    July 28, 2006 - 1:41 am

    Hey Jon,
    quite interesting report.
    I implemented 5S programs in a couple of our plants for logistics but I never did 5S for offices.
    Would you mind to provide me some further information on this topic?

  3. Jon Miller

    July 31, 2006 - 1:57 am

    Hi Nils,
    The application of 5S to the office is not so different from logistics or manufacturing. If you have done it successfully in logistics you can do it in the office.
    The key thing is to explain to people what it is and why it’s important for making waste visible. There is not so much to tell, it is doing.
    The activities to do 5S in the office are the same, getting rid of what you don’t need, making a place for everything, cleaning at the start and end of each day, etc. to sustain and improve.
    If you are ever in the Seattle area you are welcome, we will give you a tour of our office 5S.

  4. pradeep sharma

    October 15, 2006 - 10:57 pm

    it was nice to see these pictures showing 5s in actions. can you send me some more pictures with before and after explanation.
    also i would like to know if there is any scope of 5s in office which is already neat and clean and properly maintain.

  5. Jon Miller

    October 16, 2006 - 6:20 pm

    Hello Pradeep,
    Unfortunately I can not send you more pictures. If I said yes than we would end up doing nothing but sending pictures and examples all day to everyone who asks. But we will post future examples here on the blog.
    Even if your office is already neat and clean there is scope for 5S. The goal of 5S is not “neat and clean” but “make waste visible”. Here is a challenge: in an office with good 5S you should be able to get any file you need within 30 seconds.

  6. Thang

    December 6, 2007 - 6:57 pm

    Now I must deploy 5S activity at my Office. I hear many 5S Activities for Factory. But for office it is difficult. Please help me.

  7. Jon Miller

    December 9, 2007 - 6:40 pm

    Hello Thang,
    Why is 5S difficult in the office? If we know why, we can help.

  8. G.Hanuman

    July 14, 2008 - 4:31 am

    Dear sir,
    We are doing 5S in Physical Environment. But I would like to know how to carryout 5S in Systems Environment particularly in Purchase department . Preferably with a example like case study.
    Thanks and Regards

  9. Ashik

    April 8, 2009 - 12:41 am

    I am doing my MBA in Operations Management, as Summer Internship can I take project “implementing 5s in factory”.
    What would be its scope with respect to my career.

  10. Jon Miller

    April 12, 2009 - 6:34 pm

    That’s an interesting question Ashik. It depends on what are of Operations Management interests you most. From an organizational point of view, a project on how to get engagement and sustainability through 5S is interesting. From a purely “ops” point of view you can look at the impact of 5S on safety, quality, cost or all of the above. From a technical and facilities point of view, the connection of 5S with equipment reliability and availability (link to Total Productive Maintenance) would also be valuable.
    It depends also on the duration of your internship, the starting condition of the factory you will work with, and how strong the support for the 5S culture you plan to introduce.

  11. Jonathan

    August 9, 2009 - 2:27 am

    Hi Jon,
    You’ve got great posts about 5S. Recently, I was tasked to head a 5S project here in our department (Purchasing) but I have limited knowledge on what is applicable and what should be implemented. I was thinking that some guidelines could possibly do more harm than good. Can you please help me out in establishing 5S guidelines here in our office.

  12. Thomas

    December 10, 2009 - 1:23 pm

    Hi, I am doing 5S in manufacture and I am thinking about doing it in our office, do you provide the movie training? Please let me know.Thanks

  13. kareem

    March 15, 2011 - 1:37 am

    Hi, this year my 5s model area is my office. i wonder about design criterion how to reach mark 5
    do you have an example.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *