5S 30 Second Rule

Can You Find Something in 30 Seconds or Less? – The 5S System

The 5S System

Have you ever spent too long looking for a piece of equipment, a file or a tool? Is your workspace disorganised? If the answer is yes (we have all been there!), then let us introduce you to the 5S system.

It is a system made up of five steps that, when applied, can help us organise our workspace so we can work more efficiently and effectively. It involves assessing and optimizing our workspace for the type of work we carry out.

If we organise our workspace we will spend less time looking for things, which means we can spend more time doing value creating work for our customers and we all want that right? 

Here at Nexus we have a rule that anyone should be able to find an item in 30 seconds or less, if they can’t then it’s time to apply 5S! Here’s how you can do the same…

Where Did 5S Begin?

The 5S system originated in Japan, it was developed by Toyota to help reduce assembly time in factories. By organising the workspace in a way which made tools and materials more easily accessible, production time was dramatically reduced.

Who Can Use 5S?

5S is not just for manufacturing businesses, it can be implemented into any type of business and even into our personal lives. Therefore, if you are the owner of a cafe, insurance company or perform any type of work, you can make use of this system.

Benefits Of 5S

There are many benefits, some of the highlights include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced processing time
  • Reduced operational cost
  • Workspaces are organised
  • Waste is eliminated
  • Safety is improved
  • Improved staff morale
  • New opportunities for improvement are uncovered

The 5S Steps (I have included the steps in Japanese too)

1. Sort (Seiri) Initially we need to assess our workspace and remove all the tools and equipment we do not need to do the work. Either return unneeded items to where they belong or dispose of them. In this case we often section-off an area for unused items which are not sure what to do with, we tag them with the date in 30 days and if nobody has come to get them within that period they are disposed of.

2. Set in Order (Seiton) In this step we organise everything left in the workspace so that it is easily accessible to do the work. For example, we might group items or tools together if they are being used for the same task. This reduces the amount of ‘movement’ someone has to carry out and we always know where to look for the tools we need.

3. Shine (Seiso) Keep tools, equipment and workspaces clean and tidy. This isn’t cleaning for the sake of cleaning. It’s an opportunity to look for improvements. If an area is dirty, what is causing it? What improvements can we make to reduce the need for future cleaning of that area. If computer files are incorrectly named, why is this happening, what can we do to stop this happening again in the future.

4. Seiketus (Standardise) This step is about setting and maintaining standards. In Step 2 – Set in Order we organised our tools and materials to optimise the workflow, in this step we are standardising our new layout, typically by labeling and marking where things belong. This makes it easier for everyone to maintain the new way of working.

5. Sustain (Shiksuke) This final step is about sustaining our improvements and the 5S system. There aren’t any specific rules as to how you sustain a 5S, so be creative. Here are some ideas we have come across, dedicated time each day for 5S, including 5S in team meetings and 5S workspace audits.


The 5S system is made up of five steps that when carried out, can help a business reduce the time it takes to complete work. By organising workspaces and removing unnecessary items, we can work effectively, increase productivity, and spend less time looking for things.

Would you like to increase productivity and efficiency in your business?

Do you think you will use 5S now that you have learned more about it?

If you want help getting started, we can provide onsite and online 5S training . Just drop us an email through our contact page.

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