Workplace organization is paramount to workplace effectiveness and efficiency. It is the process of organizing the workplace so that all the needed items for a particular job or function are readily available and can be found and employed quickly and easily. The motto for workplace organization is "A place for everything and everything in it's place.
Many companies have played with various forms of organizating the workplace such as 5S, but have not seriously applied the concepts in a sustainable fashion. They became just another "Flavor of the Month"! This typically is the result of lack of real management commitment and a poor understanding of what workplace organization is and the benefits it brings to any company that implements it properly.
Lack of organization in the workplace is a hindrance to finding anything (wasted time). In addition the accumulation of "stuff" presents a barrier to carrying out the essential tasks of business and also constitutes a safety hazard.
Workplace organization is about eliminating waste, predictability & standardization, as well as visual controls. How are workplaces structured and what implications does it have for people's say over their own work lives. All employees from top management to the janitor must be involved and "walk the talk" to sustain Workplace Organization as a way of doing business..
The concept of changing the workplace was developed by Hiroyuki Hirano and comes from the Japanese concept of 5s - the five pillars of the visual workplace. Basically it is a five step process designed to achieve an orderly work environment. The five steps include:
1. Sort: Determining what is in the workplace and removing those items which are not needed to support the daily work.
2. Set-In-Order: Organizing those things which belong so that they are easy to find and use
3. Shine: Cleaning and inspecting machinery and the workspace to ensure that quality product is produced.
4. Standardize: Making sure that the workplace organization process is applies the same across the organization
5. Sustain: Ensuring the program continues to contribute to the overall operation and the bottom line of the organization.
These organization programs must be properly planned and must be derived from strategic initiatives of the organization. Unless you build a sound business case for implementing workplace organization, you are unlikely to the results you desire.
There are a lot of workplace organization (5S) programs available, only a few properly lay the foundation for success through planning and linkage to strategic goals. If you are contemplating the implementation of one of these programs in your organization or if you have done it in the past and are thinking of re-establishing your program, make sure you determine the impact it will have on your organization. A good tool for this is the SWOT Analysis where you look at what it means to your organization in terms of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Another way to look at it is in terms of three questions you need to ask:
1. How will this help?
2. How will it NOT help?
3. What other problems will it create?
If you want to improve the productivity of your organization, you must have some form of workplace organization in play in your organization. If you do not have a workplace organization program in place, you will never achieve your potential.