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5S – An initiative we can all get behind

How many times have we all used something and can’t remember where we put it afterwards? Perhaps it was a stapler, pen, pair of scissors, file or certain report that we’ve been working on. Maybe we have just kept things because we’re sure at some point we might need them, only to have them collect dust for years. Sometimes we find our desks so cluttered with ‘stuff’, or our workspaces so disorganized that we use valuable time just to find the tools to do our jobs.

It was this type of thinking that led Lee Anna Thornbury to undertake a 5S Green Belt project at City Hall with her team including Ashley McQuade, Tanya Polito, Crystal Valleau, Sarah Deyell and Mayor Ric as the Project Champion.

 “We thought City Hall would be a good place to start because there is a lot of traffic from outside and it was really a great opportunity to look at the individual workspaces and larger meeting rooms like the Victoria Room, Weldon and Kawartha Lakes rooms,” said Lee Anna, Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Initiatives Management.

But what exactly is 5S and what does it all mean?

5S is a component of Lean Six Sigma and is specific to workspaces and stands for Sort, Set-In-Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

“Our project was focused on Office Space Optimization,” explained Lee Anna. “Our team was called the OCD’s for Organize, Clean and Declutter, and what this project did was really empower staff to better organize their workspaces at City Hall.”

As part of that organization, staff were able to identify furniture – tables, chairs, filing cabinets and excess office supplies etc., - that were no longer required in their specific area.  As part of the Surplus Inventory Policy, a list was compiled of surplus office furniture and circulated to all departments. The response was overwhelming and a number of departments were able to request the surplus furniture and upgrade some of their department’s current office furniture. As well, some surplus furniture was taken to the City’s Re-Use Centre. 

Another process the 5S project identified was that at City Hall there were five individuals all ordering supplies for their respective divisions. As a result, a system in now being established in Corporate Services to consolidate the office supplies to create one centralized supply storage area and streamline the ordering process. 

As well, and as part of this project, new pictures will be appearing on the walls of City Hall.  This is a work in progress, with expertise and guidance from the Records Centre on archived historical pictures and prints.

“This project really created awareness in our own work areas to assess what was really required, and gave staff at City Hall the opportunity to eliminate what wasn’t really necessary,” said Lee Anna. “Our team contributed excellent ideas and had a lot of enthusiasm on the project.  As well, we really appreciated the participation of everyone in City Hall.”

While the initial project centered on City Hall, Lee Anna stressed that 5S is a form of process improvement that can easily be applied by anyone within the organization.

“The whole organization can benefit from 5S,” she said. “It is a great way to declutter individual workspaces to make sure that things are in the right place and that we pass on those items we no longer need.”

Lee Anna added that while 5S may seem like a small project when done individually, it can have a huge impact when everyone takes the time and opportunity to organize their workspaces.  “Our team really wanted to make City Hall a better work environment for everyone.  As a public office, we want to feel pride for what the residents and visitors to City Hall see throughout the halls and meeting rooms.”

“I really enjoyed working with my team on this project,” Lee Anna said. “Our hope is that everyone took a good look at their workspace and were able to realize the benefits from a de-cluttered work area.  I’m glad I had the opportunity to take part in this Green Belt project and work with such a great team.”

Before shot of the west hallway of City Hall     After shot of the west hallway in City Hall

Before and after shots of the upper west side hallway in City Hall

Before shot of the Weldon Room in City Hall     After shot of the Weldon Room in City Hall

Before and after shots of the Weldon Room in City Hall


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