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A company manager has the responsibility to size up the whole company. Workplace organization is pivotal for the overall efficiency of an entire firm. A disorganized environment provokes chaos, which impedes production, efficacy and consequently delayed delivery and dissatisfied customers. Therefore, aspiring NUS business students should be particularly diligent about improving their skills in office organization. And here comes the celebrated 5S lean system. Introduced by Japanese automotive giant Toyota, the 5S mechanism is big when it comes to rational and ergonomic workplace organization to leverage business efficiency.

Unfortunately, the 5S lean system is not taught in traditional management courses. You must take additional training to level up your 5S skills, which assures greater career prospects in managerial positions.

So, what is 5S? And why should you learn it?


The terminology comprises of 5 steps of workplace organization whose name starts with “S” in the Nippon dialect. These are:

Seiri (Sort)

Seiri refers to sorting through all workplace contents to locate and remove unnecessary objects from the office premise.

The step starts with an extensive observation across the entire workplace to discover and point out unnecessary and unwanted items. Before disposing of unnecessary items, red tag them with the 5s red tag. These tagged items are stored in a designated red tag area until you chalk out what to do with them.

Seiton (Systematize)

Seiton is about classifying, storing and organizing necessary items.

After you locate necessary items from the Seiri stage, you will categorize them as per their usage frequency and need. Label them for quick identification in busy hours of need. Decide on the best rational storage area for each iteam and stack them accordingly. Those that are required immediately should be kept closer to the production area.

You should also make a list of all the items and their specific storage areas so that everybody in the office gets to know what is where at a quick glance.

Seiso (Shine)

Seiso is mostly about setting a cleanliness routine and carrying out all specified tasks in the workplace.

It starts with removal and clean-up of all trash, dirt and grease in the premises. A neat and tidy workplace assures a healthy working environ and also eliminates trip/slip and fall accidents. A thorough clean-up process also helps to identify potential issues with existing office equipment and possessions.

Seiketsu (Standardize)

This 4th step stresses the creation of guidelines and visual controls to ensure all the 3 steps mentioned above are maintained in proper order.

Shitsuke (Self Discipline)

Implementation of 5S is not a one-time procedure. It’s an ongoing process which has to be cycled regularly as per the needs of the organization. The manager is responsible to train and discipline all the workers in the office to maintain the 4 steps of the 5S in a timely, rational and effective manner. The 5th step works to make sure that the entire mechanism discussed above gets embedded into company culture.

Why should budding managers take 5S training?

  • To enhance workplace efficiency

A manager is responsible to amp up workplace efficiency through improvisations in the overall company culture. According to market reports, 5S implementation has shown to boost workplace efficiency from 10-30%.

  • To avoid accidents

Workplace accidents are a nuisance. On one hand, injured workers will lower production- on another, these mishaps ruin the reputation of a company big time. An organized workforce eliminates the threats of trip and fall incidents and consequently avoids accident risks.

Finally, management pass-outs with 5S training are always given more importance in recruitment rounds for industrial management jobs and are subsequently rewarded with higher salaries compared to those without 5S training.