The development of physical workplace optimization started shortly after the launch of the first industrial revolution more than 250 years ago. When production moved from small workshops to factories, it became apparent that the workplace needed to be organized beyond what employees were doing naturally. Managers looked for ways to improve the way work was done. As a result, methods like flow production, just in time manufacturing or total quality management improved productivity, reduced costs or increased quality of both product and services in ways never seen before.
But can you apply any of these methodologies when building or refining a digital workplace? Is there anything worth learning from the hundreds of years of trial and error in this field?
Today we will be looking at 5S, a Japanese workplace organization method.
What Is 5S?
5S is based on the idea that to have a productive workplace, it must be a clean, well-organized and well-maintained place. The name of the methodology comes from the five Japanese words that describe the steps required to optimize a workplace:
1. “Sort” (seiri): Means to go through all the items present on the workplace (tools and equipment, materials or furniture) and sort them to facilitate their findability. Things that do not belong should be removed.
2. “Set In order” (seiton): Each item in the workplace belongs in the best location based on frequency or type of use.
3. “Shine” (seisō): It starts with the physical cleaning of the workplace, but it extends to regular equipment maintenance so everything in the workplace is in good working order.
4. “Standardize” (seiketsu): Procedures, responsibilities, daily routines and checklists must be created to support the system.
5. “Sustain” (shitsuke): Refers to all the actions and activities needed to ensure the 5S approach is followed in the long term: training, regular audits, having feedback loops being open to improvement ideas are ways to ensure 5S’s long-term success.
How Can We Use 5S to Optimize a Digital Workplace?
Organizations can apply 5S principles to the digital workplace as well, but first they have to map the physical and digital environments.
What is the equivalent of a physical workplace in the digital workplace?
A physical workplace is where a worker performs a set of related and similar operations. In a digital workplace this equates to the place where similar tasks can be performed.
Think of a banking product such as a credit card. The employee should be able to supply customers information related to their card, to request a credit card, to replace an expired/stolen card, to cancel one or to issue a statement.
To do this, the employee will need access to:
- Specific business apps (preferably with deep links to the specifically required functionality).
- Support information such as the latest news related with the product, applicable product brochures, training materials, procedures, active campaigns, FAQs. The user should be able to easily find the find people in charge for support or to send feedback to product or process owners.
Ideally, all these would be accessible from a page that I call a topic page. Such a page would group together information from several repositories (and information owners), link to the specific application functionalities and support several related tasks.
In reality, the information is scattered in various repositories and large applications with numerous, complex functionalities. The managers assume each employee will figure out how to find the information they need to properly perform a task. This makes it rather complicated for the employee, and ultimately generates errors, costs and delays.
This article was originally published on CMSWire