The Complete Guide to 5S for Home Office Work

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Entrepreneurs and home office workers around the world are stressed with their limited time and energy–too little time and too much to do. It’s a common theme for anyone that works from home. What better place is there than the home office to apply the principles of 5S?

What is 5S?

5S is an approach to workspace organization that started in the manufacturing world but has found application in other business environments. It involves a methodical approach to work layout, cleanup and maintenance and has realized significant improvements in diverse operations around the world.
The Five Steps to 5S in a Home Office
The basic concepts of 5S are widely known. It consists of the following stages:

  • Sort
  • Set in Order
  • Sweep
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

A detailed explanation of each phase can be found in the 5S Overview article.

Sort Home Office Clutter

A clean and organized desk will be more efficient than one that is cluttered disorganized mess. If you cannot immediately find an important document when it’s needed, sorting is needed. One simple approach is to have two spots for your working documents-one for ‘pending work’ and the second for ‘completed work’.
These spots can be an inbox, shelf, or dedicated area on a desk. If desk space allows for two different spots, place them on the opposite side of your workspace so that a flow of material will occur. Left-to-right, or right-to-left-the choice is yours. For modest workspaces, a stacking inbox or drawer will conserve the used work area to a minimum.
In the ‘pending spot’, store all the mail, reports, forms and other items that require work. Limit the size of this box so that it will not become a catchall for work to be avoided.
The ‘completed spot’ holds all the outgoing mail, completed forms and files that need to be stored in a filing cabinet.
Electronic documents can use a similar approach through folder structures and discipline.

Set the Home Office in Order-Equipment, Folders, and Files

All home office equipment and supplies should be stored in a neat and tidy fashion. Items used less than two times a day should be stored in drawers, credenzas, or bookcases. If left on the desktop work area, they will get in the way and create unnecessary movement and waste.
Avoid creating ambiguous storage folders and piles. The ‘miscellaneous’, ‘other’ and other unspecific storage choices create opportunities for losing things and time. Resist the ambiguous urge-file, read, take action or toss it away.
How many pens or pencils can a person use at one time? That cup filled with various pens, pencils, and highlighters is a waste of desk space and contributes to disorganization. Leave one pen (or pencil) on the desk and move the rest to a drawer or shelf for storage.

Sweep up the Home Office Dust and Clutter

Now that all the mess has been removed from the desktop, cleaning what is left should be simple. Replace oversized garbage cans with a smaller can and then empty it every day. This routine will be revised in the final stage.

Home Office Standardization

Where possible, standardize on one when in the past you had two. One printer type, one type of pen-consumable materials can easily get out of control if this step is overlooked. If you have more than one work area, a work office, and a home office, consider using a docking station at both locations.
The same logic applies to printers and their consumable parts-toner and ink cartridges, ribbons, and rollers. Standardization will eliminate the waste of excess alternatives.

Sustain

Now image your newly organized home office, desk, or work area. To maintain this productive and positive working area do a little daily sustaining maintenance. If you are a morning person and do your best mental work before lunch, do the daily maintenance tasks at the end of the day when you are mental. Switch that around if you struggle to get up to speed in the morning.

Conclusion: Start Applying 5S Today for a Better You

With a little bit of effort and an understanding of the 5S process steps, you can have an efficient home office that will encourage productivity and improve your morale.


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