Utilizing 5S Methodology in the Modern Era

5S is a technique of organizing the workplace that focuses on five keywords: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. It is the pillar of the traditional lean methodology used in the six sigma companies. Now, it can organize modern workplaces as well! 

This concept was first introduced in the Toyota manufacturing system which later developed just-in-time manufacturing. In this article, we will see the fundamental aspects of 5S and how it can be implemented in today’s world.

What is 5S

Every business or company tries to eliminate waste, boost sales, and become more agile with the changing environments. 5S philosophy achieves these things by reducing:

  • Mura: Inconsistency or imbalance
  • Muri: Overburden, unreasonableness
  • Muda: Immoderate activities

It can increase team coordination, recognize abnormalities, reduce waste, and improve productivity and safety.  

Benefits of 5S

  1. Optimized workplaces
  2. Better efficiency
  3. Large storage space 
  4. Boosted confidence and morale
  5. Enhanced safety
5S methodology

Also, read the top 5 principles that define the Kanban system.

Sort (seiri)

Sort is the initial phase that focuses on clearing the clutter from the designated cabin, room, or a particular space that needs to be organized. Individuals can identify the required items based on the usage frequency. Discard everything you don’t use regularly and keep things essential to your everyday life. The list includes tools, materials, and machines. This first step sets the groundwork for 5S and ensures its successful implementation. 

The unnecessary stuff should be red-tagged and located in suitable places.  The red tag indicates whether items should be recycled, replaced, relocated, or eliminated. 

This stage accomplishes the following:

  1. Maximum utilization of available space
  2. Removal of obstacles or distractions
  3. Saving of time 
  4. Sophisticated process

Set in order (Seiton)

Here, all the valuable items should be stored systematically using labeling, and markings. Tools should be collectively kept in a toolbox. The main purpose is to make them easily accessible. Refer to the following tips while performing this step:

  • Place the stuff in an orderly manner.
  • Keep handy the frequently used tools or devices
  • Group the instruments that are used together. 

Labeling: The art of labeling materials, tools, and devices is a common practice in many industries. Using it makes it possible for an unfamiliar person to find the right location and to understand the essential placement of items. The scope of labeling covers signboards, banners, posters, and other visual media that convey various messages. 

Line marking: This indicates work areas including manufacturing, testing, quality, packaging, etc. Floor paint or tape can be utilized to do the line marking. It improves the workflow, balances the process, and enhances productivity. 

Different types of tools can be stored in a toolbox or hanging tools system.

Shine (Seiso)

This step is all about making the workplace clean and shiny. A clean environment will keep individuals and tools in a good condition. It indirectly boosts the morale of employees. Maintenance and inspection play a crucial role in this phase.

Standardize (Seiketsu)

Using Standardize, five-sense tasks are performed on a daily basis following a set of routines and checklists.  To standardize, one must know his/her responsibilities, follow a daily routine, and conduct a periodic evaluation.

Sustain (Shitsuke)

The concept of sustainment or shitsuke refers to self-discipline by everyone involved in the process. This can be ensured by:

  • Arranging training sessions
  • Improving whenever possible
  • Examining regularly

Refer to our article on how to combine Six Sigma activities with information techniques to learn about the successful execution of six sigma.

Modern 5S methodology

COVID-19 has changed the scenario of work culture for many individuals. Over half of the population now works from home, causing WFH culture to grow. As a result, 5S is not limited to any particular industry, but can also be applied at home to improve productivity.

Difference between a cluttered and organized desk

Sort your desk

Clear the unnecessary stuff from your desk and keep only the valid items useful for day-to-day work. Also, clear useless files, folders, and cookies from your laptop. This will allow easier access to essential stuff in no time. 

Set in order

Keep the required things handy. Place the less important stuff in designated drawers so that it will always be accessible.  You can either mark it or put sticky notes on it for labeling.


Make your desk neat. Get rid of all the dirt from your room and surrounding.  It will increase the effectiveness of the work and brighten the mood.


Adhere to all the above steps and follow them regularly. Standardization will happen once these activities become routine. 


This is all about consistent self-improvement. Keep thinking about ways to make your job easier, faster, and more effective by improving, saving, or simplifying it. 

The 5S methodology can be applied in a variety of industries and different types of jobs. If followed correctly, it can lay the foundation for ultimate success.  


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