Implementing 5S within a Japanese Concept in the Office & Personal Life

Some of us have heard about Kaizen for industrial advancement in Japanese culture. But most of us do not know about the complete 5S. Also called the Five S of Japanese terms. Five words starting with an S, creating a motto for visual management for industrial benefits.

The 5 S of Japanese terms are –

  • Seiri
  • Seiton
  • Seiso
  • Seiketsu
  • Shitsuke

Now we will see what these 5 terms mean in English and I will explain them for your benefit. As an HR professional for more than 10 years, I have got enough success implementing them at different situations for the overall benefits of the company.

The history behind the Japanese “5S”

Japanese 5S – Seirei, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke have been used in the Japanese industrial revolution for a long time. Sakichi Toyoda – the famous founder of the popular brand “Toyota” first implemented it in His industries and made a revolution.

You can use it in your industries, office as well as personal life.

Meaning in English for Implementing Japanese “5S” in the Office & Personal Life


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Explanation for Implementing Japanese “5S” in the Office & Personal Life

japanese 5s concept

Figure 1 Seirei, Keep Your Workplace Organized And Tidy

Seirei – Sort

The American term for Seirei is “to Sort”. It means the workpieces and necessary tools should be kept at the workplace.

You must create a workplace where unnecessary items will not stay.

Hoarding at the workplace should be avoided at any cost.

Every work has its own sets of tools and machines. Without them, any unnecessary things can create distractions in the workflow. So, it should be avoided at any cost.

a lady workng

Figure 2 Seiton, Keep Only The Necessary Workpieces At Hand

Seiton – Simplify or Set in Order

This term – “Seiton” is totally affiliated with applied physiology.

In a workplace, there are lots of movements.

Each and every work may need you to move from one place to another.

But every unnecessary movement can create work hindrances as well as you may lose time management. Besides, it can lead you to unnecessary distractions from time to time.

Seiton – means to use applied physiology to avoid unnecessary movements, even bending or reaching out to an extended place for any set of tools or workpieces.

The workflow should be in such a way that you do not need to move extra for any of the tools. They should be near.

The workpieces should come directly to you. You must not get them yourself.

After you finish the work, you must pass it to the next person who will be at the hand distance, not far from where you need to go for delivery.

The total meaning of the term shows us that the workplace should be created in such a manner that you do not need to use extra time or even extra gestures to get your work done.

This is one of the basic parts of time management or efficiency in the workplace.

working industry

Figure 3 Seiso, Keep Your Workplace Shining With Cleanliness

Seiso – Shine

Shine or Seiso is the third part of Japanese 5S at the workplace.

It is one of the most important parts to implement at the workplace but is often avoided due to negligence of the management.

Seiso means to take care of the cleaning and organizing process regularly. This is a disciplinary part of the workplace.

Keeping the working area clean can lead you to self-discipline in your own work. You will get more space and working ideas generated from keeping your area clean.

Every workplace should be kept clean and organized frequently.

Major industrial works create a lot of waste. They not only take up space but also create problems for health if kept for a long time.

When the area is kept clean, psychological happiness leads to new ideas and benefits for everyone.

So, to “Shine”, you must keep your area clean all the way.

two men working

Figure 4 Seiketsu, Create A Standard For Every Part Of Work

Seiketsu – Standardise

After the third term of 5S, we get the fourth term – Seiketsu or Standardise.

Standardise means creating standards for every part of your work at the workplace, not just for work procedures, but also for your outcomes.

Japanese 5S are associated with work at the workplace from head to toe. Among them, the most important part is to create standards for your works, workpieces, and outcomes.

Most of the industrial workflow has many parts of working with a workpiece. Even in a service industry like food in restaurants, you will find a workflow easily, like

Customer Entrance > Taking Orders > Food Preparation > Serving

Each and every part of the work needs its own standards. If the Entrance is okay, and taking order is late, then the workflow gets interrupted and results in a bad customer experience.

Likewise, If every part of the work has a good standard and it is maintained correctly, then you can easily get full standard and quality maintenance in your whole work.

Seiketsu means to create standards for each and every part in the workflow along with the outcome. You need to create and implement them at your workplace correctly.

Figure 5 Keep Regular Audits To Maintain Sustainability in The Standardisation

Shitsuke – Sustain

The last part of Japanese 5S terms is Shitsuke or sustain.

If you can implement the above four parts – Seirei, Seiton, Seiso and Seiketsu but cannot keep them sustainable at your workplace, then you will not reap their benefits.

To keep a sustainable balance at the workplace you need to do –

  • Regular Audits
  • Revise whereas there is any error in the workflow regularly
  • Create and implement backup plans from time to time
  • Maintain employee morals and self-disciplines regularly

If you can do that, you will reap the full benefits of the 5S of Japanese terms.

Implementing Japanese “5S” in the Office & Personal Life

Like industry, you can maintain the Japanese “5S” in your office and personal life –

In the Office

  • Seirei: Keep your workplace tidy and clean. Do not keep unnecessary distractions like a TV or anything so that you may get distracted from work all of a sudden.
  • Seito: Keep the main working tools at hand. If you need a lot of paperwork, you can keep the printer and computer at hand. Other less important things like files from other departments should be sent straight away.

Find out what you need most, make a list, and keep them at hand.

  • Seiso: Keep your working area clean and disciplined personally or with help. Do not let wastage and unnecessary things distract you from your work. Keep the space balanced all the time.
  • Seiketsu: Whatever work you are doing and outcome you get, whether it is paperwork or manual labor, make a chart with the highest standards you should maintain at the office. Keep the chart in front of you all the time and do not finish the job until you meet that standard.
  • Shitsuke: Keep the standards maintained all the time. Do not compromise with your work standards. Maintain regular check-ups on how you can develop that standard and implement any new ways you find effectively and efficiently.

In Personal Life

  • Seirei: Keep your house tidy and clean and keep the necessary things while letting the necessary things get away. Stop hoarding things for good.
  • Seito: Whatever you need often, keep them at your hand. Do not keep less necessary things like occasional dresses or any tool you hardly need nearby. Only keep the necessary things nearby.
  • Seiso: Like the work area, always maintain good cleaning order for the best scenario at your home. It will keep your family healthy and balanced.
  • Seiketsu: Keep yourself balanced in all your work. Every part of the home and personal life should be balanced and standards must be kept. You cannot ignore one part for the other. If you maintain a standard, maintain it everywhere in your life.
  • Shitsuke: Shitsuke means to keep the standards in check so that you do not have a loose footstep anywhere. Keep the enthusiasm up all the time for a constant balance in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 5S in Japan?

5S means the set of visual management Seirei, Seito, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke in Japan. They implement the standardization at the workplace and office. In the USA, the terms are interpreted as – Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.

What are the 5 phases of 5S in Japan?

The 5 phases of 5S in Japan are –

  • Seirei – Keeping the workplace organized
  • Seito – Keeping necessary things nearby and less necessary things far
  • Seiso – Always maintain cleanliness at the workplace for a better ideas and bigger space
  • Seiketsu – Create a definition of the standard for each work part and outcome
  • Shistsuke – Keep the standards in check by auditing regularly

What are 5S and Six Sigma?

5S is Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain. You can implement 5S to get good benefits of constant and sustainable benefits. On the other hand, Six Sigma are – Continuous improvement, a Culture of Quality, Lean, Process Management, Root Cause Statistics, Statistics, and Value Stream Mapping in the workplace. Where 5S works on sustainable balance, Six Sigma is used to maintain a sustainable upward sloppy workflow. This is the core difference between them.

How will you apply 5S in your home?

  • Give away the unnecessary things that do not benefit you.
  • Keep the most important working tools, and clothes nearby. Keep the less important things far.
  • Keep the home always clean and tidy.
  • Always maintain a standard in keeping all parts of your home furnished.
  • Maintain sustainability in your work and personal life all the time.


The Japanese 5S is basically all about balance. If you can maintain balance in all parts of life with the 5S, you will get a disciplined upward sloppy lifestyle easily.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Nadira

    Very Nice

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