When we talk about cleaning a facility it is often confused with creating a Visual Workplace. There is an entire process to address cleanliness and clutter known as 5S but we will get to that in future blog posts. The Visual Workplace is much more that organization.


Imagine traveling the interstates without exit signs, without GPS, or without a map? Can you fathom the inefficiencies? Imagine doing it with out a cell phone! Over the years technology and visual illustration have literally changed the way we look at the world. Now ask yourself as a leader, why our organizations do not reflect the same.

In a perfect world, we need onboarding and training to be – “simple”. As leaders, we often expect new employees to hit the ground running. Do they? Most organizations spend a couple of hours training basic company rules then send employees to the floor expecting fantastic results. Ultimately, without a visual workplace program in effect, we are setting them up to fail.

In a dream facility (where everything is always perfect) the operation is so well illustrated and automated that literally ANYONE OFF THE STREET can immediately begin work with little or no onboarding. A bridge too far? Consider the following:

  • When you go to an unfamiliar grocery store and you want to find bread – do you NATURALLY look up for a sign over the bread aisle?
  • When you want to turn onto a street from as dictated by your GPS – do you NATURALLY look for a road sign?
  • When you go to a fast food restaurant – do you NATURALLY look for menu?
  • When you go to a department store and are ready to check out – do you NATURALLY look for checkout lane with a light or indicator that is is open?

I’m guessing you answered yes to all of these questions. So why wouldn’t you want to gain a competitive advantage by building a facility that is as NATURAL as the outside environment where the workforce is coming from? By investing the time into the Visual Workplace, leaders can drastically reduce onboarding time. 


It goes beyond sign and floor striping. Remember the last time you wanted to fix something at home or had technical questions? I would venture to guess that you when straight to youtube. Within minutes you found out how to fix that leak or repair that squeak.  However, when leading your workforce – you create an arsenal of paper documentation for your processes, try to manage them through a revision system, and worst of all – expect your newly onboarded employees to spend hours reading information they will forget after 12 minutes.

Leaders get creative with visual workplace techniques by placing themselves in the in the role of the receiver. Step back and pretend it was your first day on the job – what could be done to make the environment more NATURAL. Take the time to query new employees to find out what opportunities for improvement exist in the onboarding process.


Before you can go VISUAL it is beneficial to invoke lots of 5S events. Afterward, take the time to sit with staff and employees and BUILD A VISUAL PLAN. Utilize available tools to get the most of what works with your budget. Focus on building an environment that is NATURAL.