5S For Home Office: a TPS Inspired Operating System For Remote Work

The 5 principles for remote teams: Those of you familiar with the Lean community of practice know a “tool” referred to as 5S; commonly undertaken as a ‘clean-up’ effort to catalyze company-wide lean initiatives. Ironically, used in this way it fails more often than not. It fails because 5S isn’t a “tool” used to “fix.” 

5S is an operating system. A way of working systematically toward high performance.

5S got its name from five Japanese words used to create the physical working conditions that manifest optimum results by systematically reducing waste.

Shifting to a home office might find you without an optimal workspace, here’s what you can do with what you have:


Sort through all the tools, materials, etc in the work area and keep only the essential items needed to get your work done. Remove any other materials from the area.


Now set up those essential items in a way that promotes work flow. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.Reduce the time and energy-consuming need for searching and reaching for things (electronically as well as physically). Think about a surgeon’s tray: just what is needed, where it’s needed, when it’s needed. Be surgical in the execution of your work.


Spotlessly clean your work area as a routine part of each day. Now more than ever- prevent the spread of germs, and understand the mental impact of cleanliness.


 Get a standard (or structure) in place for your work practices. Taken in the spirit of the word, think about this in relationship to your daily routine. Be strict with your schedule so that your day (especially if you’re home with kids) develops a natural cadence. The consistency you create will allow for a higher quality of work, and set boundaries allowing space for creativity and improvement.


It is a vigilant discipline and commitment to check, adjust and sustain the above practices every day. It shows up as a daily practice to nourish, strengthen and support the preservation of your efforts. 

Not everyone has an established, equipped home office. Many of us are making-do with the space we have, dividing time and energy in many ways.

These five simple principles for remote teams will help you create a healthy work from home practice.


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