This is the point in the 5S process where the rubber meets the road. You are sealing in your dedication to the process. Now that you have sorted and straightened out the elements of your office it’s time to make sure that all of your hard work does not go to waste.
The biggest problem with consistency in 5S is not returning items to where they belong. This second half of the straightening step will make sure that you do. All of the critical items that you have need to be labeled as to where they belong and then outlined with a colorful tape that will stand out. Before you put the tape down, be sure to test a small piece for a few days, especially on desks, to make sure that it is going to be able to be removed without leaving residue. Your layout of your items is going to change so the markings can not be completely permanent. Before you think I’ve lost my mind and I’m wearing a tin foil hat, this is why you do it.
Let’s use a stapler for example. Your stapler is used so much in your business that you decided that you were going to keep it on your desk. Great! Now, lets say that where you set it is at the top left hand corner of your desk. What you are going to do is take that stapler and outline it as close to its exact size as you can get with tape. After that you are going to take a labeling machine ( I use a Brother for small home office, but if you are doing a large office I recommend a P-Touch) and make a label that says “Stapler” and put it towards the front of the tape marking. Lastly, you sit the stapler in its new home.
If that stapler disappears, you know its missing. This prevents you from putting it down somewhere else. Its home is in that exact spot. That is where you pick it up and that is where you return it. What this entire process does is create a habit of taking and returning items. Now you are not running around wasting time wondering where you put it. It is always in that exact same place.
There is a point where it goes a little overboard so be careful. During my initial 5S at my old employer, there was a breakroom just outside of the work area. Someone brought in a plastic plant and set it in the corner of the room so that we had something nice to look at. The 5S team put tape around the base of the plant and labeled it “Plant”. Needless to say that was removed. Don’t go that beserk over it especially with things that are aesthetic. This is work related items only. Some will tell you to mark of pictures of your family and every item on your desk. In a practical sense, I think doing that is wasting too much time so stick with the important items.
This environment takes some getting used to, but it does work. Toyota Production Systems has been doing this for years and have a very streamlined process in their automobile assembly line. Think this is a little overboard? I challenge you to take your most commonly lost item and try just that. The amount of time you will save looking for it will make it worth your time to label everything and continue on to step 3.
What do you think about labeling all your items? Are you going to try it? Head on over to Facebook and fill me in! I’d love to hear from you.
Heather Santo is proudly an A Real Change Certified Virtual Assistant with over 15 years of customer service experience via face-to face, telephone and internet. She also spent time in corporate America as a Human Resources Manager performing generalist duties and specializing in recruiting.
She now enjoys using her talents to serve her clients and help them to operate their businesses efficiently.
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