5S in the 1.5 meter society


One of the main characteristics of 2020 is the one and a half meter society. A few months ago, the coronavirus emerged and a global pandemic emerged. After the first weeks and months of working from home, society is slowly becoming active again. There are also many companies and organizations that would like to propagate their mission and vision again and start their activities again. But the one and a half meter society makes this a lot more complex. How can companies ensure that they can resume business and take into account the one and a half meter distance? 5S can offer opportunities there. Read more about 5S in the one and a half meter society here.

What is 5S

First of all, what is it? 5S is a method to organize spaces and workplaces in an orderly way. An organized workplace contributes to four important aspects: safety, quality, efficiency and employee satisfaction. Usually a lot of waste can be found in companies, such as waiting for or searching for information. Or not having all tools and materials at hand. The use of 5S ensures that these wastages are minimized. Less waste then contributes to a more efficient process. 5S can therefore realize efficiency on the one hand but also secure it on the other hand.

An important fact to realize is that people need to be involved. In order to roll out 5S in the best possible way, it is essential to involve people. This ensures that people get ownership and can therefore familiarize themselves with 5S.

5S in five consecutive steps

  1. Sort
    First of all, we evaluate the state of affairs and start sorting. Everything that is hardly or not used is selected and gets a red label. Questions like 'What do we use a lot, little or never?' are central in this process. This also includes all self-evident things, such as documents that remain in a digital folder. This step mainly ensures that more space is created, something that will become an important commodity in our new society.
  2. Shine
    Then there is a focus on cleaning. This includes the cleaning of all objects on the one hand, but also the prevention of contamination on the other hand. We realize this by eliminating incidents and malfunctions. Think of the elimination of sources of contamination. Shining also takes on a new dimension in the other social distancing society. Think of the number of touches, the frequency of disinfection and the prevention of contamination at all.
  3. Set in order
    Then the essential tool or other material is given a suitable fixed place. The shop floor is also organized in such a way that everything can be found quickly and easily. Hygiene and ergonomics are also taken into account when looking for a suitable place for the material.
  4. Standardize
    When the first three steps have been completed, agreements are made about these three steps. They are standardized and this is determined visually. This visualization should ensure that the first three steps will be secured.
  5. Sustain
    In the last phase, the focus is mainly on guaranteeing the first four steps. Many companies and organizations often make this mistake. The distinction of being lean or not depends on how this phase is performed. This is therefore also the most difficult phase. Essential aspects of this stage are managerial attention and self-discipline. To realize this in the best way, we have a 5S App & Safety App that works in a browser, on tablet and mobile. This app is used to register deviations, to follow up on these deviations and to make their presentation easier. It ensures that there is no duplication of effort. The biggest advantage is that everything only needs to be done once. This app also efficiently carries out this assurance phase. Efficiency over efficient working, what more could you want?


As mentioned, society is changing enormously now. Companies and organizations are of course also subject to this. The 5S workplace organization is an incredibly important and good method to work more safely and efficiently. 5S is in essence the basis for a stable organization.

In view of the new measures surrounding the coronavirus and the creation of the other social distancing society, the workplace organization becomes even more important. Some people see the coronavirus and its consequences as a kind of reset. We have returned to people's basic needs, such as safety and security. This applies to individuals, but it will also apply to companies and organizations.

By having to keep a distance of one and a half meters, people will have to make even better use of valuable workplace space. So a workplace full of stuff that doesn't belong there is actually undesirable, right? The workplace should be as tight and organized as possible. In fact, this means that in many cases 5S will decide whether or not companies can operate.

But this also offers challenges. Michael Ballé, a lean management connoisseur and writer, spoke on Lean.org about how the whole idea behind lean is to learn to change and adapt to new and challenging circumstances. In addition, he also indicated that we need to implement the new methods right now so that they can be used calmly but effectively without people clashing with an entirely new workplace.

This can already be seen in society. An example of this is supermarkets. Many supermarkets have already made changes: you can only enter with a trolley, you have to keep a distance of one and a half meters at all times and there are plastic partitions for the cashier in many supermarkets. The supermarket is, as it were, set up in a new way in order to do shopping as effectively and efficiently as possible in view of the corona virus and the social distancing society. Even the visual aspect of lean can be seen: arrows hanging in the air or stickers on the ground indicate exactly where people need to stand in order to keep the right distance.


If companies and organizations do not adapt to their environment and close their eyes to it, it can even become dangerous for them. They will then stand still and no longer be able to respond to the demands that their environment places on them. If they do not keep asking themselves whether their processes have added value, waste can creep in mercilessly. Good things tend to act as a smokescreen for these wastages: they do not stand out. But at the moment when things are not going so well, then the realisation comes that there are a lot of wastages present. The danger of this is that it is then difficult to get things back on track if countless wastages are carried along.

Companies that constantly ask themselves whether their processes add value distinguish themselves on the basis of their basic stability. This stability can be achieved by means of the 5S method. By constantly focusing on the waste and whether the processes add value, there is less of an internal crisis when the environment changes. This makes it easier to keep an eye on the market and the outside world, and organizations notice faster when the environment changes.

The aforementioned changes and adjustments that supermarkets are making are a signal of a new way of working in the future. Precisely 5S can offer opportunities to implement these changes effectively. Whichever way you look at it, the social distancing society is a fact. We have to move on, but we want to move on too. And in order to guarantee the safety of employees, the application of 5S only offers possibilities. With a focus on stability and the drive to combat waste, companies will be better armed against sudden changes in the environment.

Dennis van de Bunt
Co-founder 5S-company and 5S specialist

Want to stay informed? Contact Dennis via Dennis.vandebunt@5scompany.com

This text was written in collaboration with Rocher Koendjbiharie.

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