A3.3. 5S workplace organisation

5S workplace organisation

What should I expect the outcomes to be of using the tool?

Unorganised and chaotic workplaces result in huge amounts of waste and can significantly hinder staff and customer experiences. By applying the 5S approach to your workplace you can:

  • Reduce time spent on searching for things/information
  • Make better use of time
  • Identify issues/problems before they happen
  • Provide a foundation for future improvements
  • Take control of your work environment so that it is properly set up to support you
  • Put a system in place to ensure that everyone understands the standards set as a team and that those standards are not only maintained but continually improved
  • Support your team to take responsibility and ownership of their working environment, creating feelings of empowerment in their roles

Tool/ method

The 5S approach is a structured process which involves five key steps to create an ideal work environment for you and your team; sort, simplify, sweep, standardize, sustain. Safety is considered at all of the five key steps to ensure that people and the work area are safe. The implementation of the 5S approach helps create a working environment where things are easy to find and there is room to store everything you need, exactly where you need it. Importantly the implementation of the 5S approach helps create order, reduces waste and maximises safety.

Why we may choose to use this tool/ method?

5S puts a system in place to ensure that everyone understands the standards that you set as a team, and that those standards are not only maintained but continually improved.

5S will help you to take control of your work environment so that it is properly set up to support you.

How you might use this tool/ method?


  • Decide and prioritise on which area of the workplace to focus on
  • Take some photos of the work area (just to record what it looked like before you change anything)
  • Organise a meeting with participants to prepare and plan for the 5S workshop, to gain an understanding of the current set up of the work area, including, any issues and potential solutions. Also, decide what equipment is needed to carry out the 5S workshop, for example, rubbish disposable, cameras, and post it notes (for labelling what to be kept or not). It is advised that this meeting takes place 2 weeks before the 5S workshop.
  • Organise a planned day for the 5S workshop to take place. All participants should be present. A collective goal should be set between the team for what they want to achieve from the 5S workshop.



  • Explain purpose and background about 5S to all involved
  • Decide who will participate in the 5S workshop (all of the team or representatives)



  • Beginning with the first S – sort using a three colour post it system the participants decide what they want to keep (green post-it), place in storage (amber post-it) and get rid of (red post-it).



  • The second S – simplify requires the team to work together to decide on where items are going to be kept. The aim of this is to ensure that every item within the workplace has a place.



  • The third S – sweep visually and physically keeping the workplace clean and clutter free.



  • The forth S – standardise agree on what needs to be done to maintain an orderly, clean and functional work area.


  • The fifth S – sustain everyone in the team must take ownership of maintaining the workplace as agreed. Checks are carried out so 5S becomes part of the everyday routine.


5S can be applied on physical workspaces as well as in computer folders and email accounts. Materials are more tangible than information, but in order to achieve more 5S should be applied on all workspaces. 5s can be applied to all areas of your work such as; emails. Electronic folders, forms, referral criteria etc.

What next?

· Keep going

· Try other areas

· Encourage others

· Consider more detailed work around waste (have a look at the Waste Wheel)

· This might lead on to using PDSA cycles

Examples/ case studies/ links to best practice/ evidence

Here are some examples from a 5S Workshop which recently took place in a Consultation Room in a GP surgery (before and after photos).



Contact for further information

Mandy Kennedy, North of England Commissioning Support



5S Workplace Organisation Visuals


Templates and visualisations: