Employees are now heading back to their offices, although the transition is still slow. There are companies which take advantage of hybrid work models to accommodate needs.

5S methodology is a method which will help to organise teams by lean management. It was developed by Toyota engineers in Japan and it is a way of working that relies on visual management and self organisation to help the team perform more effectively.

This entirely new hybrid setup brings a unique complexity which is:

  • How to make it productive to work both in the office and home at any time
  • How to meet effectively with a team of employees who are in mixed environments
  • How to manage the workspace, in case desk are shared with others while working remotely

5S can help team members focus on what really matters and get rid of the wasted time and resources following these steps.

SORT. When you get back to your desk at the office, it will probably be a fresh feeling. It will be a perfect opportunity to sort what you need from what you don’t need anymore. The more simple your system is, the easier it will be to manage it. Having two desks is definitely not an easy job. Before buying any extra folders, bookcases or even furniture, eliminate all the items you keep “just in case” but you actually never end up using ! Eliminate all the duplicates (pens, papers, folders).

Keep handy only what you will need now, and keep stored what you will need in the future. If you did not use some items throughout the last year, you probably don’t need them anymore. Define a standardised process to sort all your documents, files, mails and tasks both at home and in the office and eliminate those no longer required. If you end up sharing you space, define new “owners” for the drawers or paper trays. .

STORE. Review all the items you decided to keep and determine where and when you will need them to allow for an efficient workflow. Do you need them at your home? Or maybe your office? Alternatively, do you need them at both locations. You may want to duplicate some items to avoid moving them around, or you may want to organise tasks based on where you are located to avoid transportation.

Most of all confrontations in a team start when there are shifts and shared spaces. Define a “home” for each item so that everybody knows where to find them, including all the digital folders and documents, especially if you share computers. Label document trays to facilitate the communication with your coworkers on-site while you work remotely. These label system will allow third party to park documents for approval or storage. Last but not least, remember to store everything back in its “home” before leaving the workplace. It will be a sign of respect for your partner.

SHINE. Keep the workspace and meeting rooms clean at all times. Even though you may not need to use your mask anymore, it will be still good to keep the surfaces free of dust and bacteria by cleaning them frequently. The other benefit of cleanliness is that it prevents printers and other machinery getting ruined, especially when they have such a little use.

Assign owners for the maintenance of each location or/and item. Keep the essential cleaning materials close to where you will need them, items such as hand sanitiser, cleaning towels and brooms. Do not wait for someone to clean it for you, if you make a mess, you clean it. Prevent small problems from getting bigger.

STANDARDISE. Standards help everyone keep the first three steps going smoothly. You most likely have some manuals already, but they are very unlikely have the hybrid rules within them. I will advise to keep them updated as soon as possible. You may want o discuss this with your team and define some hybrid workplace rules and do whatever it takes to stick to them, as common sense is not such common for everyone. Create standards which all will respect and keep them visible.

Share it online for both remote and co-located team members. Define as a team the best way to organise meetings so that everyone can easily be part of the meeting. For instance, use the video even when meeting face-to-face, check everyone has contributed before adjourning and use digital boards even if you have your deal old flip-chart at hand.

SELF-ORGANISE. Now, when you all have new rules and standards, all you need to do is respect them, to respect your co-workers. A hybrid workplace requires individuals to be self organised to enable agile ways of working, no matter where they are located. Just like in remote work, you would not have your leader around at all times, so embrace becoming more autonomous over time. Commit to the standards even when nobody is looking. Decide when it is more convenient for you and the team to be in the office, and share your weekly schedule so that others know where and when to find you.

Observe your current process and redesign it as needed to make it more productive. Change what may look uncomfortable, discuss with your co-workers a better way to make it more effective and add it to your daily routine. Just like in the shine steps, do not wait for someone else to do it for you. Own the process and initiate the change.

Hybrid work models are here to stay, so the faster you adjust your routines to make them more productive, the better. there is much more to learn about 5S, but if you can agree with your ream at least on these simple routines, productivity will skyrocket right away.

Do you know any other productivity techniques. I will be thrilled to learn from you in the comment section below.

All the best,


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